Caroline Thompson, Elk Point, SD

Salutations fellow members and educators! My name is Caroline Thompson and I am part of the EPJEA. I will teach first grade this coming school year. I have been a member of SDEA for three years. Initially, I joined SDEA for the liability protection benefits. It wasn't until this summer that I really began to see the benefits of SDEA membership. The professional development offerings and personal connections made within this exceptional organization are amazing and lasting. The best part about being part of SDEA is the ability to be an active voice to advocate for real change within our educational system. I look forward to using my voice and hope others will join in order to make our collective voice louder, stronger, and heard. Our students deserve strong and vocal advocates.

Fallon Budmayr, BHSU

Hello! My name is Fallon Budmayr. I am currently attending Black Hills State University as an Aspiring Educator. At BHSU, I am studying Special and Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood. I have been a member for a year now. My reason for joining SDEA is because coming into my freshman year, I was eager to get involved in clubs who would be able to help further benefit my future as an Aspiring Educator. I was introduced to our local association, then the state association, and lucky enough this year to also be introduced to the association on the national level. As I was able to attend both the Aspiring Educator Conference and Representative Assembly in Houston, Texas. The possibilities through SDEA/NEA are endless. The best part of joining is that I have connected with so many others as a support system with similar values. Lastly being an active voice for educators is very important to me, and SDEA/NEA allows me the opportunity to do that.

Charles Arseneault, Custer, SD

I am Charles Arseneault and I have been an educator for 28 years. In Junior High I teach 7th and 8th computers and IT as well as US History. At the High School level I teach Computer Tech and Video Production as well as being the Website Advisor. I am also currently the President of the Custer Education Association and have been for the last 12 years. I have been a member of SDEA for all 25 years in Custer and I became a member because of a bad experience in my previous teaching job. Our association is a must have not only for liability but for representation and recognition. Being a member is about being a leader and joining in on the operations of your association.

Tony Martinet, Sioux Falls, SD

My name is Tony Martinet.  I am finishing my first year as the Local President in Sioux Falls. I have been in education for 14 years, with 10 of those teaching high school Speech/Debate/Composition. I joined the association when I first started teaching to be a part of my professional organization. I have stayed with SFEA and SDEA to have the means to advocate for my profession. No other organization allows me the chance to develop as an educational leader and truly influence my own profession. The more involved I have become, the more I have benefited from the association. 

Heather Harmon, Rapid City, SD

My name is Heather Harmon. I am a part of the Rapid City local and am a paraprofessional at RCH. I have been a member since October 2018 and I joined because I now have my own classroom. Once I joined, I was welcomed enthusiastically and thrown into the midst of various leadership type roles within my local as well as district. I have enjoyed getting to know how our union chapters/locals operate and the benefits that exist that no one tells you about.

Grace Gill, Sioux Falls, SD

My name is Grace Gill. I have been teaching in Sioux Falls for two years. I joined SFEA because I am passionate about the issues my local prioritizes. SDEA works to represent students and support teachers across the state. SDEA membership provides opportunities to advocate for students during a time their voices need to be heard the most.

Brooke McLellan, Spearfish, SD

My name is Brooke McLellan & I am a member of Spearfish local chapter for the third year. I teach K-2 Technology and STEM in my district & I love my job! This year was my first experience being a member of the local Negotiations Team and witnessing the process of advocating for my peers on this level. It is by far my favorite part of being a part of this association, because I believe we as teachers need to be a part of that decision-making process in order to be heard and make change.

Kama Konda-Varilek, Harrisburg, SD

I'm Kama Konda-Varilek from Harrisburg, SD, and for the past four years I have been a member of SDEA. I currently teach English and Speech in the Customized Learning Program at Harrisburg High School. I joined SDEA because my family of educators voiced the importance of being active within our union. The best part of being a member, so far, has been helping plan the SPARKS retreat for early career educators!

Jamie Van Winkle, Yankton, SD

My name is Jamie Van Winkle. I am a member of the Yankton Education Association. I am currently in my first year as co-president. I’ve been a member of YEA for approximately 28 years. I joined YEA to be an active member of my professional organization. The best part of being a member is being part of an organization that wants to do the best for all students in our Great State!

Abigail Benson, Yankton, SD

My name is Abigail Benson. I am an SDEA/NEA member from Yankton, SD. I love being a member of YEA and discovering ways to be active within it. Currently, I am part of our negotiation team and membership committee. I have been a member for 4 years, ever since I was hired to teach 1st grade at Lincoln Elementary. I personally feel that being a member of your local and state organizations is one of the best decisions any teacher can make. The support they offer to their members, young and old, is invaluable.