Our Voice

New School Year. New Roles. New Challenges.

The start of the 2020–2021 school year is like no other. For me, the new year brings a new role as your SDEA President. My new title comes with a lot of responsibility, which I take very seriously. SDEA members entrusted me to be the steward of the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) and to represent educators across the state. I am eager to be your voice, and I know that if we work together, we can bring positive change to our public schools, but I need your help.

As your new president, I know I have a lot to learn. Just because I was elected to this position, doesn’t mean that I have all the answers. I believe the best leaders do less talking and a lot more listening. I want to hear it all—the good and the bad. I need to know what is working, and I need to know what is NOT working. What can we, collectively as an Association, do to help you do your job better? Maybe you just need an ear or maybe you need more support and resources to help you be a better educator in these unprecedented times.

This brings me to the start of the 2020–2021 school year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools opened in August and early September, educators did their best to prepare for what was to come. However, it didn’t take long for concerns and confusion to arise. Educators are being designated as essential workers, cases are spiking, and schools lack the resources to keep students and staff safe. So, what do we do?

I have always believed that in order to make it through this pandemic we must do this together. Now more than ever, SDEA is committed to supporting our members. We continue to develop tools, such as the Guide to Educating Safely, to help educators, students and their families navigate these uncertain times. SDEA continues to push for additional funding to make sure you have what you need to do your job safely. We continue to remind everyone, including state leaders, school board members, administrators and parents, that they MUST put the necessary measures in place to keep students and teachers safe.

I am so honored to represent the most committed educators in the country. You truly inspire me. Being an educator was never an easy job but educating during a pandemic makes South Dakota’s educators miracle workers. On behalf of the students of South Dakota, thank you for continuing to be there for them. I look forward to the year to come and I look forward to hearing from you.