Nearly 70 Sioux Falls high school teachers ventured to South Dakota State University’s campus Feb. 5 for their own day of learning, which included science experiments, compounding prescriptions and other educational opportunities.
During the Sioux Falls School District’s in-service day, educators explored academic resources available across campus. Teachers made connections to utilize in their classrooms and give a firsthand account of educational options available to students considering their future plans.
“This was an important event for our institution as it is a way to connect our land-grant mission of providing access to the benefits of higher education, not only to future students but to those in critical roles that are impacting the business leaders, nurses, engineers, teachers, pharmacists and many other professionals of tomorrow,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said.
During their trip to campus, teachers spent the morning meeting with faculty and touring academic areas including engineering, family and consumer sciences, agriculture, physics, chemistry, heath careers and others.
“Teachers commonly talk to their students about their interests and try to help them formulate career plans based on those interests and passions that they are able to see,” Josh Hall, principal of the Career and Technical Academy in the Sioux Falls School District, said. “Knowing about what’s at the other end of those career pathways after high school is very helpful to our teachers, and it directly impacts those student conversations.”
This event was the product of a campus visit from Sioux Falls Superintendent Jane Stavem and the SDSU Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering’s participation in a NASA competition. This sparked interest from Sioux Falls School District and SDSU leaders to showcase the possibilities at the university for both prospective students and educators alike.
“We always say, ‘Of course we want every student to come to SDSU,’ but that’s secondary to students finding the path that’s best for them,” Vernon Brown, associate vice president for external affairs, said. “We were not selling SDSU today. We were selling the value of higher education and the affordability of higher education for these teachers to be able to then tell their students.”
In the afternoon, educators heard from academic deans about the options available at SDSU.
“It’s been nice to get some connections with people who can come into our classroom or for bringing students up for field trips,” Rachel Strum, family and consumer sciences teacher in the Sioux Falls School District, said. “This just helps me to be able to advise my students better on the post-secondary options that they have and help them with those career connections.”
Teachers also learned about the student support services offered by SDSU. Members from the offices of the Wintrode Student Success and Opportunity Center, Multicultural Affairs and Accessibility, Admissions and the Wokini Initiative walked educators through the support systems in place to ensure student success at SDSU.
“Our philosophy in terms of recruitment and outreach is really college exploration, and that’s where our connection to you all as high school instructors is at,” Shawn Helmbolt, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said. “Really assisting your students explore and identify what is the right pathway for them. When we talk about recruitment and outreach, it’s not really a hard sell, but it’s trying to find the best fit for your students,” he said to the teachers.