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South Dakota Teachers: Working on the Future

American Education Week is a time to say "thanks" to everyone who helps educate our children. Credit: Jerry Oster
American Education Week is a time to say "thanks" to everyone who helps educate our children. Credit: Jerry Oster
November 20, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - They are very important people in our communities, but often go unnoticed and underpaid. This is American Education Week, and Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, says it's a good time to say "thank you" to all the people who help educate children - not only their teachers.

"We say 'thank you' to parents, to our community members," she said. "We say 'thank you' to our educational support personnel for all the work that they do because none of us does the work in isolation. Literally, it takes a village to educate our children."

McCorkle, who has been traveling around the state this week, stopping at schools to recognize educators for the work they do, said teachers have a central focus and motivation, which she also shares.

"It's the kids that I speak on behalf for, it's the kids that I miss, it's my own students," she said. "And it's so important to care about all the students in South Dakota to talk about what makes a great public school."

McCorkle said the best "thanks" teachers can get is to make sure they have the support they need, both in and out of the classroom.

"What we need to do to ensure that we have highly qualified teachers, that we're not looking at situations where districts are trying to figure out, 'What are we going to do? We don't have a teacher,' " she said. "When we have those conversations, that's the best 'thank you' that we can say."

The theme for American Education Week is, "Great Public Schools, A Basic Right, and Our Responsibility." Information about the observance is online at nea.org.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD