Gina Strain, White River, SD

My name is Gina Strain. I am a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at the White River School District. I have been employed there for 19 years. I and three other White River employees, with the help of UniServ Director Laura Haug, organized our union in 2004. I was appointed as a Co-President with a fellow employee during our formation. We formed our first agreement with the board of Education for the 2005–06 school year. We have been negotiating our agreement every year since. I have served as President, Vice President, Sec./Treasure, and have been on the negotiations team every year. I organized/joined because there was a need for unity, a professional organization to help the classified staff with salary, benefits and a workplace that is conductive. The best part of belongs to a supportive organization.

Tess Canet, White River, SD

My name is Tess Canet. I am a member of the Todd County EA and currently the president. I am also a member of the SDEA Board of Directors for the Plains Unit. I joined TCEA/SDEA/NEA the first year of my teaching career in 1997. I joined because I knew it was an organization of my peers, who would give me support and encouragement when I needed it. As a member of the TCEA/SDEA/NEA, I have a voice — locally, state-wide and nationally. My voice is heard through political action such as lobbying for better learning conditions for students and better working conditions for employees of Public Education. There is power in numbers!

Penny Osborne, Rapid City, SD

My name is Penny Osborne and I am a paraeducator in the McKinney-Vento Program for the Rapid City Area Schools. I am the para representative on the executive board for the RCEA. I have been a member for 1 year. Initially, I joined because I had some difficulties with my position and felt like I needed some support. I am so glad I joined! I feel more empowered in position knowing I have support. The professional development and leadership opportunities have helped me become involved in so many things that affect our roles.

Bobbi Schmidt, White River, SD

Hello! I’m Bobbi Schmidt from White River. I belong to our local ESP at the White River School District. I’m currently in the start of my fourth year of being the Elementary Secretary and my 11th year of being part of the White River School District! I joined the ESP 13 years ago and have held various offices. This is my 11th year as our locals’ president. Joining our local has been a huge experience for myself. I have had the privilege to attend three national conferences! I originally joined to belong to a professional organization. I wanted to be a voice in the making of our negotiations and take advantage of SDEA benefits. The best experience I have had is attending the national conferences and all the wonderful workshops!

Sabrina Henriksen, Rapid City, SD

Sabrina Henriksen – Chemistry/Physical Science teacher at Rapid City High School, 13 year member, and Faculty Rep. – 2nd year My reason for joining SDEA was for the professional development and support network. I wanted a way for my voice to make a difference for my students. Being a member has created long lasting friendships and professional growth I wouldn’t have had on my own.

Krista McCorkle, Aberdeen, SD

I am Krista McCorkle, a nine year member of SDEA. I currently teach 2nd grade in Aberdeen. I joined SDEA because of the work they do to benefit the education of children. SDEA works tirelessly to do what's best for kids. My favorite part of being a member is being among other educators that are as passionate about education and students as I am.

Emily Lafrentz, Sioux Falls, SD

Hello, my name is Emily Lafrentz, a teacher in the Sioux Falls School District for the past 20 years. I am a proud member of our local teacher association; SFEA. I joined when I was first employed by the district in 1997. I joined because I thought it was “the thing to do”, but as the years have gone by I realize it’s much more than that. It is my and countless other educators’ voices working together for what is best for education and our profession. If I were not so passionate about helping my students succeed in life, I wouldn’t work so hard to advocate for them. This is what my association helps me accomplish. I thank SFEA for the opportunity to meet and learn from so many awesome educators with the same goals as myself. SFEA Rocks for me and countless others.

Tim Eckart, Sioux Falls, SD

I am Tim Eckart, a second year member of SFEA but a 17 year member of NEA. I am a band director in the Sioux Falls School District. I joined SFEA because of my belief in a unified voice for the promotion of quality education for all students and supporting teachers to achieve that goal. The best part about being a member of SFEA is having the opportunity to influence the shaping of our students’ education for the better.

Brent Turnipseed, SDSU

At a recent COHE-SDSU event for new faculty, Membership Chair Brent Turnipseed and Co-president Mary Kraljic discuss SDEA/COHE benefits with new member Stephanie Jacobson. Professor Turnipseed teaches in the Agronomy program and runs the SDSU Seed Testing lab. “I have been a member for over 10 years. Among the reasons why I joined is the ability to vote on the contract, the liability insurance, and the regular updates on issues that impact university faculty.  What I like most about SDEA is that the organization listens to our issues and, through our UniServ Director, they address our concerns and needs.  We have an excellent UniServ Director in Dolores Tufaro who works with the COHE units across the state and is helping drive conversations with all COHE-eligible faculty about the benefits of membership. Growing our membership is a priority for strengthening our position during contract negotiations. It is a major route for implementing positive changes for faculty and higher education in South Dakota.”

Danyelle Cleveland, Sioux Falls, SD

I'm Danyelle Cleveland and I am an active member of SFEA. This is my 21st year as a teacher and my 14th year as a member. I was not familiar with SFEA when I was hired. My reason for joining is due to a co worker telling me more about SFEA; in addition, a few years later I was asked to take more of a leadership role in the organization. Ever since I agreed to serve alongside SFEA, I have learned so much about our organization and have continued to educate others about the importance of our organization and why all teachers should be a member. It has been such a rewarding experience to meet people throughout the district, state and nation. I am proud to be a part of our professional organization and look forward to future endeavors!