Back to School 2023
From the President
Back to School 2023
If you're like me, you have found yourself starting so many recent conversations with "I don't know where my summer went! It just went so fast!" I feel like I say it every year, but for whatever reason, I'm really feeling it this year. Maybe it was all the snow, and the late spring. Maybe it was the 5 summer conferences I committed to during all those snow days. Maybe it was the fact that my children are growing before my eyes. Maybe it was the blur of all the snacks and meals I prepared and cleaned up. Whatever the reason, it sure seems like those blessings make time go so, so fast.
At the same time, I also feel like I'm heading back to school with so many tools, ideas, books, and feeling more ready and excited than I have in a couple of years. I have so many of you to thank for that as we collaborated at the SDCTE conference and over Summer YOUniversity. I'm so excited for the opportunity to be your SDCTE president for the next 2 years. This community has been so welcoming, uplifting, and supportive. I am excited about growing our reach in the next two years and expanding our opportunities for teachers to learn and grow in this community.
One opportunity that I am especially excited about is the plans for a SD group to attend NCTE in November, and I hope you'll consider joining us. There are already a handful of teachers committed to going, and there's room for you, too. Check out the information below on an informational Zoom session to talk more about the national conference, travel, cost, etc. NCTE released their speakers this past week, and I am so excited for the opportunity to see so many of these speakers in person.
We have other opportunities to gather together. The Bored Teachers Comedy Tour will be stopping in Sioux Falls, and we'll have a group ticket option. We're finalizing our plans for the spring book study, so look for that information later this fall. We are also contemplating some fall sessions on AI if that would be something to help us check in with each other on what is working, and what isn't. We started the conversation at conference, but I know it is something I'm still working out for myself and my classroom.
As you start your year back in your classroom, I really hope you'll consider inviting a colleague (or two or three) to join our group. Invite them to the Facebook group to see this community at work. You'll see below that we have a new shirt design you can order. I hope you proudly wear it in your classroom to tell others about us. Don't forget take a selfie and share it on the Facebook group!
I hope you take time to check in with each other as you start the year! It is so easy to grind through the blur of the first few weeks of school doing our own thing. I encourage you to make a point to check in with your colleagues in your building, across your district, and even those in neighboring towns. We can best serve our students when our own cups are full. One way to keep your cup filled is by seeking out community and checking in on one another.
I am looking forward to this year together as we support our students and one another. My inbox is always open! I'm looking forward to hearing how your first days go!
2023 Teacher of the Year: Leading through Collaboration and Relationships
Meet Laura O'Connor
"My biggest advice for young teachers is simply this: don't be afraid to tell others if you need help, and don't ever stop learning!" Laura O'Connor embodies her own advice. (Pictured above, Corrine Kallemeyn (left) presents Laura O'Connor the 2023 SDCTE Teacher of the Year award at the June conference). She wrote a few words to reflect on her teaching and involvement in SDCTE. She especially notes the value in community that she has found as part of this organization:
I started teaching in the fall of 2002 at Hot Springs Middle School where I had seventh grade ELA. I truly was fortunate to begin my career in such a wonderful school with incredibly supportive colleagues and administrators. I had a mentor teacher who I remain in contact with even though she retired several years ago. After three years teaching there, I got married and accepted a job in my hometown and school. Since the fall of 2005, I have taught 9-12 ELA at Philip High School and have loved the challenges that come along with being the sole teacher of the high school English department!
I knew shortly after switching to the high school level and being on my own with only one other teacher in my discipline to really share ideas and support me that I would need a professional organization if I wanted to survive this thing called teaching! I have been attending the SDCTE conference since I was a relatively new teacher, and I have gleaned an incredible amount of knowledge from the many teachers who have been role models and supportive colleagues. And I have met so many wonderful teachers who have become dear friends.
I would encourage all young teachers -- or even teachers who find themselves lacking new ideas or enthusiasm -- to consider joining and attending an SDCTE conference. If the conference date doesn't work, then consider being part of the book study SDCTE offers in the spring. It's a great way to stay connected to great teachers while learning things to benefit you and your students.
I want to take a minute to say thank you. On the drive home [from conference], I was thinking about how many years ago I joined SDCTE. While I can’t put a year to it, I know it was when I was just getting started and felt as though I was an island as the only high school ELA teacher at my high school.
I needed people who could help me with ideas, listen to my fears and frustrations, laugh with me over the you-can’t-make-this-up moments, and share in the unexplainable joy that comes with teaching. I found all of that and more by simply joining SDCTE!
So you young ones just getting started, please stay with us! Be active and be willing to share your knowledge with those of us who may be in need of fresh ideas and perspectives. And to the veterans who keep showing up to conference: thank you for continuing to love what you do enough to keep sharing and guiding us all.
To my dear friends Jessica Eikmeier Magelky and Michelle Mansfield, you totally surprised me and I love you dearly for your friendship that started with this organization! And to Marisa, Lisa, Corrinne, Susan, Nicole, Adam, Anne, Sharon…I thank you for your leadership and continuing inspiration. It is appreciated so very much.
Thank you all for a wonderful conference! I am no better than any of the rest of you, and I am no longer on an island but on solid ground because of you.
Thanks for being my people!
2023 SDCTE Teacher of the Year
Order a SDCTE shirt FOR A LIMITED TIME!
Click here to order! https://w.mawebcenters.com/grocott/ecommerce/sdcte-2023.html
Shirts are made at Grocott Ink and Thread in Hartford, SD. You can select shipping at the time of purchase, or Nicole Finnesand will be able to pick up for you if you can arrange to meet Nicole at an oral interp contest, if you're in Sioux Falls, etc. Reach out to Nicole directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like to work something out!
Don't miss out on some bright, fun back to school swag!
Come to NCTE!
NCTE's national conference is Nov. 16-19, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. We have a group traveling to attend, and we want you to join us!
We're hosting a Zoom call on Monday, August 28 at 7:30 pm. This is a time to learn about NCTE, discuss travel options, conference schedule, cost, etc.
NCTE's website includes the speakers, conference schedule, and lots of information. Visit https://convention.ncte.org/. There is a discount on registration if we have a group of 10. We already have a group of SD teachers committed to going, so come learn more about it!
Can't attend? We can send the link, or email us and we'll answer your questions as best as we can. (email@example.com)
SDCTE is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: NCTE Informational Session
Time: Aug 28, 2023 07:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 837 1774 5938
Executive Council Spotlight
Meet the New VP!
It’s hard to believe, but I’m already going into my 11th year of teaching! My first five years were spent teaching language arts and reading at the middle school level. In 2018, I moved into the Harrisburg School District, and I’ve been teaching high school (primarily freshmen) since. We are moving into our new Freshmen Academy facility this year, and I’m so excited to be part of the big changes happening in our district. Since joining the Harrisburg community, I’ve been fortunate to step into a few other roles, including advisor of the HHS Student Council and assistant director for the Harrisburg Summer Performing Arts (SPA) program. I live with my husband, my three kids, and our two black labs. I like sushi, Skittles (purple bag), painting and crafting, cooking and baking, and doing a mediocre job of managing my two fantasy football teams.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from South Dakota State University in 2013 and my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Florida in 2016. I’m currently working on a specialist in education administration through USD. My favorite part of SDCTE has been networking and sharing ideas with master English educators across the state. I’m thrilled to step into the role of VP, and I can’t wait to see what exciting opportunities for professional development and collaboration our organization will offer this year.
2023 SDCTE Conference Recap
Two South Dakota English teachers were recognized by the South Dakota Council of Teachers of English (SDCTE). Laura O’Connor of Phillip High School, Phillip, SD, was recognized as the 2023 SDCTE English Teacher of the Year, and Janelle Bakke of Sisseton High School, Sisseton, SD was named Young Leader. SDCTE also honored Layli Long Soldier as the Author of the Year.
These awards were presented at SDCTE’s annual conference, which was held at Arrowwood Cedar Shores Resort and Conference Center near Oacoma, SD, on June 14-15, 2023. The theme of the conference was Multimodal Literacy: So Much More than Words on a Page. This conference provided professional development for English Language Arts (ELA) teachers in South Dakota by local teachers.
SDCTE is committed to honoring outstanding teachers in South Dakota by recognizing and fostering leadership both in the classroom and in the profession. The Teacher of the Year Award recognizes a teacher who demonstrates leadership in the classroom and among their peers. According to Kadoka English teacher Jessica Magelky, O’Connor “works diligently to improve her work and collaborate professionally with others. She loves to attend the annual SDCTE conference which gives her the chance to gain new ideas to bring back to her students. She has also partnered with me, the high school ELA teacher in the neighboring district, to bounce ideas back and forth about what is and is not working for our students.” O’Connor will represent South Dakota for the High School Teacher of Excellence for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
SDCTE’s Young Leader award recognizes teacher leaders early in their careers who show a commitment to professional development and a commitment to increasing their effectiveness as a teacher. Janelle Bakke of Sisseton has taught high school English for 8 years at SHS. She was recognized for her impact on her school, her growth in confidence and effectiveness, and her developing role as a professional and leader within the ELA community in South Dakota. Colleague Sharon Prendergast explained, “She has high expectations for her students. She gets them to really read and analyze their text. But she is so willing to help kids.”
Layli Long Soldier was named SDCTE’s Author of the Year. At the SDCTE conference, she recited a poem from her recent book Whereas. She spoke about her path to becoming an author, poet, and artist and how she found her voice. A member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, she earned her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA with honors from Bard College. Her 2017 poetry collection Whereas won a National Books Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
The conference also included a keynote performance by Dakota Daughters, an awards banquet, and breakout sessions hosted by teachers and professors from South Dakota. The sessions covered a wide range of teaching topics but overall provided participants an opportunity to enhance their classrooms with many forms of literacy including drama, film, music, and technology.
Members of the 2023-2024 council include President Nicole Finnesand (Tri-Valley High School, Colton), Past President Corrine Kallemeyn (Watertown High School), Vice President Samantha Hettinger (Harrisburg High School), Treasurer Susan Farrell-Poncelet (Sanborn Central High School), Secretary Jennifer Lacher-Starace (Mickelson Middle School, Brookings), and Post Secondary liaison Jennifer Weber (Mt. Marty University).
Founded in 1941, SDCTE is the state affiliate of NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English). Its mission is to increase the effectiveness of English teaching throughout the state; to foster helpful, friendly relationships among its members; to help teachers keep up to date on technology and new practices; and to stimulate professional development. For more information visit www.sdcte.org.
2024 Conference - SAVE THE DATE!
Proposals for 2024 conference are now being accepted! 2024's conference theme is "Renew. Reimagine. Rejoice: Growing and Thriving in the ELA Classroom." We will meet at Cedar Shores outside of Chamberlain, SD, on June 5-6, 2024.
Check out the website for more information! SDCTE.org
Worth a Read
Shedding some light on current topics in teaching
SDCTE Executive Council
President: Nicole Finnesand, Tri-Valley High School, Colton
Vice President: Samantha Hettinger, Harrisburg High School
Past President: Corrine Kallemeyn, Watertown High School
Secretary: Jennifer Lacher-Starace, Mickelson Middle School, Brookings
Treasurer: Susan Farrell-Poncelet, Sanborn Central High School, Forestburg
Post-Secondary Liaison: Jennifer Weber, Mt. Marty University