By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education
I spent quite a bit of time this past month visiting school leaders. John Pedersen and I hit the road to attend regional superintendent meetings, and the Superintendents Advisory Council met in Pierre. I also met with a principal group and attended part of the Aspiring School Leaders Conference.
Those face to face meetings are critical for getting a feel for your most pressing issues and concerns. Obviously, funding is one of them. But I also heard you voice concerns about other important issues, whether it was assessment or curriculum, reauthorization or federal regulations. Please be assured that we at the department take your feedback seriously; it is always a factor in our discussions and decisions. I also see my role as trying to facilitate opportunities for discussion between schools and the Governorís Office, and I will continue to advocate for open and honest dialogue.
Perhaps the visit that struck me the most came this past week, when I was able to tour the Juvenile Service Center in Rapid City where they serve at-risk kids and kids who are already in trouble with the law. The dedication of those educators and the situations of those students reminded me of why so many of us became educators in the first place: We care about kids, and we care about doing the right thing.
Being a school leader is tough work, but it is also deeply rewarding work. Kudos to South Dakota educators for all you do for your students, your schools and your communities.