Member Voices

Julie Prasek, Hayti, SD

Julie Prasek has been a fourth grade teacher at Hamlin County School District and an SDEA member for the past seven years. The best part of SDEA is being part of a professional organization that supports teachers and students.

Bridget Ebert, Colton, SD

My name is Bridget Ebert. I am a member of the Tri-Valley School District Education Association. I have been a member for the past 16 years with our organization, TVEA. This past year I was elected to take the role of TVEA President. The reason I joined TVEA and SDEA was to be part of a professional community that included my teaching colleagues within the district. I also joined SDEA because I wanted an opportunity to make a difference with teachers and for teachers where our progress would lead to a great educational opportunity for our students. I love being part of a community that promotes heart, passion, engagement, and leadership. SDEA does that for me and allows me to build that same type of community I desire in my local organization. Along with the benefits I receive through this professional organization, I feel I can give back because I have been able to gain so much along the way. This is a give and take foundational approach to leading by example, listening to perspectives, and providing a way to make education better for all.

Stephanie Ballard, Brookings, SD

South Dakota Teacher of the Year: Region 1 My name is Stephanie Ballard. I am currently a special education teacher at Mickelson Middle School in Brookings, SD. I am in my eighth year of teaching and my fifth year as a SDEA member. I joined SDEA to learn more about what goes on in my district and the state. I participated in the NEA Early Leadership Institute earlier in my career and am excited about how this program can help me grow in the skills as an educator and be more involved in SDEA.

Barbara Nicholas, Huron, SD

South Dakota Teacher of the Year: Region 3 Huron Education Association Elementary Music Educator at the Buchanan K-1 Center 40 years as an SDEA Member My reason for joining this organization is because I have always had the highest regard for teachers. Being a member affords me the opportunity to join the professional organization that represents educators and fosters a relationship among its members. It is rewarding to know that I am among professionals who like myself are dedicating themselves to educating students to the best of their ability. I believe that it is highly important for our organization to continue its effort to encourage new teachers to become members. Educators who are non-members need to be apprised of the necessity to have professional representation in their local, state and national organizations that will interface with legislators and legislative issues, local school boards and administrators, and contractual issues. Our future is dependent upon the growth of our membership to remain the most relevant educational organization in our state.

Koreen Hammel, Hot Springs, SD

South Dakota Teacher of the Year: Region 5 Koreen Hammel — Hot Springs Education Association. I am a 5th grade teacher at Hot Springs. I have been a member for 14 years. I joined SDEA because I was encouraged to in college. The best part about joining is helping teachers have a voice in their profession. I want to help our teachers grow in their profession and be leaders in what they do.

Jenna Peters, Britton, SD

South Dakota Teacher of the Year: Region 4 My name is Jenna Peters. I am a 6-12 English/Language Arts teacher at Britton-Hecla Schools. I am starting my 14th year of teaching, and I have been a member of SDEA for five years. I joined because I wanted to learn more about the legislature governing education. I have learned SO MUCH since joining SDEA. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I also feel that my fellow members and I have a special comradery and support system that I was missing before joining.

Kristi Desaulniers, Tea, SD

South Dakota Teacher of the Year: Region 2 Kristi Desaulniers — TEA (Tea Area Education Association) Currently Grade 4 at Legacy Elementary in Tea, SD 30 years as an SDEA member (Watertown, Lennox, Tea Area) As a South Dakota educator for more than 30 years — as well as three additional years of teaching internationally in England, Switzerland, and Canada — I joined SDEA with my first teaching position which was in Watertown, SD. Joining SDEA allowed insights and opportunities to pursue continued learning on both personal and professional levels. Being part of a larger organization to work towards having one's voice for students be more visible has been a beneficial aspect of belonging to SDEA. Recently, I had the honor of being selected as the Region 2 South Dakota Teacher of the Year. But most importantly, I celebrate all of my colleagues, students, and parents who have been impacting components of my teaching career.

Michelle Andrews, Beresford, SD

Michelle Andrews President, Beresford Education Association 6th grade Reading Teacher, Middle School 14 years as an SDEA Member Reason joined: to have a voice at the table. This is my professional organization. Best Part about Joining SDEA: Joining a community, and getting support from other colleagues. I also value getting new information and ideas. ZOOMing with other local members to talk to each other during the pandemic has also been really good. I have helped with negotiations for years. Meeting monthly with the superintendent has been really constructive. I’ve felt very pleased about the amount of input we have been able to get into the district’s American Rescue Plan proposals. Leadership is hard and messy sometimes but it’s worth it when you can find a good compromise and give everyone a voice.

Teresa Meland, Sisseton, SD

Teresa Meland Science teacher at Sisseton High School 32 years and SDEA member for 31 years. I joined because it’s my obligation as a professional to support my fellow teachers and the education system. The best part of being a member is the support of my fellow teachers and SDEA staff. It means I know I always have someone to turn to.

Beth Hansen, Vermillion, SD

Beth Hansen | Vermillion Education Association Reading Specialist at Austin Elementary School – 29 years as a member I joined initially for the liability insurance and have enjoyed it ever since. I think the best part of being a member of VEA is knowing that I am a part of a professional organization that works together to ensure that all members have a voice. It also is great to be able to bring positive change to our organization and watch it grow over the years.