“No one teaching strategy will consistently engage all students. The local district is looking for ways to improve instruction for all students. CEEDAR funding provided this wonderful [culturally responsive teaching professional development] opportunity. K-12 teachers are very excited to learn great suggestions and research-based practices.”
—Principal Sue Galvin
South Dakota, which boasts sprawling prairies, fertile farmland, and glacial lakes, not only has a diverse geography, but also diverse educational needs. Since 2013, South Dakota, one of five states in the first cohort of recipients of the CEEDAR Center’s intensive technical assistance (TA), has made significant progress in its efforts to prepare knowledgeable and effective teachers to serve all students. The South Dakota Department of Education, University of South Dakota (USD), Northern State University (NSU), Augustana College, and South Dakota State University (SDSU) have partnered with the CEEDAR Center to support the state’s mission to graduate every student as college, career, and life ready. The CEEDAR Center, serving as a catalyst and bridge, has been assisting all four participating institutions of higher education (IHEs) in accomplishing institutional goals while establishing collaboration among the institutions and the state.
The IHEs have focused on including evidence-based practices (EBPs) in their courses and programs. Also, each has led a cross-IHE project involving all of the CEEDAR educator preparation programs and its school district partners. SDSU has established a leadership summit, NSU a mentorship program, and Augustana a series of online-on-demand modules to support the competencies the state and IHEs have determined that all educators must know and be able to do. This article focuses on the efforts of USD to ensure that IHE faculty and school district faculty are knowledgeable about culturally responsive teaching.
To address the persistent underachievement of culturally and linguistically diverse students, USD is providing professional development (PD) for faculty regarding culturally responsive teaching. This effort was kicked off by the USD- and CEEDAR-sponsored Culturally Responsive Teaching Conference featuring international scholar Dr. Geneva Gay. USD offered this PD for both faculty and school district personnel from across the state. In addition, the dean of the School of Education, Dr. Donald Easton-Brooks, and university faculty have committed to include in their educator preparation programs culturally responsive instructional techniques. Dr. Susan Gapp, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, describes the CEEDAR Center as a “natural fit” between USD and the culturally diverse communities in which its partner school districts are located.
Communication and collaboration are essential to implementing reform of this magnitude in several IHEs and multiple districts. Dr. Gapp emphasizes that CEEDAR has been a “great vehicle for collaboration so that we can work together and learn from each other.” With the support of the South Dakota Department of Education, CEEDAR’s TA has provided numerous opportunities to open lines of communication that allow for networking across all stakeholders.
If you are interested in learning more about the CEEDAR’s TA in South Dakota, contact Marty Hougen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dia Jackson (email@example.com).