Member Voices

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!

Skylar Smith, Black Hills State University

My name is Skylar Smith and I am the president of the Black Hills State University chapter of the South Dakota Education Association. I am a K-12 Special Education and Spanish Education major with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I joined in my first year of college for additional training to become an effective teacher. The best part of joining SDEA has been the professional development I have received, such as on Differentiation. I am excited to continue volunteering in the community and collaborate with members at the local and state level.

Becca Worden, Sioux Falls, SD

I am Becca Worden, a second year member of SFEA. Last year, my first year teaching, I signed up because I heard the Association provided great resources for professional development and legal support. While I wasn’t an active member during my first year, I recently attended a Social Justice training that reminded me of the valuable resources provided. As an elementary RISE teacher (self-contained special education), the best part about SDEA is the people who have supported my dreams and provided avenues for me to advocate for individuals with disabilities. I feel supported and believe I can accomplish big things!

Matthew Osborne, Aberdeen, SD

Matt has been a member of AEA (Aberdeen Education Association) and SDEA for 13 years. He is currently a kindergarten teacher and coach in Aberdeen. He joined SDEA/AEA to be part of something BIGGER than teaching and his classroom! What was the best part of joining SDEA? According to Matt, "That is easy! The people in SDEA and in other local groups. It is awesome to meet and learn from so many educators!"

Josh Thomas, Sioux Falls, SD

Being an SDEA member is important to me because it is about giving a collective voice to the people that work with our kids on a daily basis. As a fifth year teacher, I believe that it is important to give encouragement and guidance to new educators entering the profession.

Bobby Smallman, Aberdeen, SD

I joined Aberdeen's Education Association for the protection. However, I never imagined the opportunities that would be available through our Association. Three years ago I got my start by joining the negotiations committee, now I serve on the SDEA Board of Directors. I am also the vice-president of elementary schools at the local level.