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Veteran SD Teacher Goes "Back to School," Across the State

SDEA President Mary McCorkle has spent this American Education Week visiting schools around the state. (Jerry Oster)
SDEA President Mary McCorkle has spent this American Education Week visiting schools around the state. (Jerry Oster)
November 18, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. – More than 134,000 students attend South Dakota public schools in 170 districts, and Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, has been visiting many of them across the state this week, as part of American Education Week. She said this is a time to celebrate "all things education."

"This is a week where we really stop and we say 'thank you' to educators, we say 'thank you' to parents, we say 'thank you' to our education support professionals," she said.

The theme for this year's observation is "Great Public Schools - A Basic Right and Our Responsibility." American Education Week has been celebrated since 1921, and it's always the week before Thanksgiving.

McCorkle, herself a veteran teacher, said the classroom teacher's role has changed considerably over the years.

"Teachers were the 'Sage on the Stage,' where the job of the teacher was the dispenser of knowledge, and you dispensed the knowledge, and the students learned whatever it was that they needed to learn," she explained. "Now, teachers are facilitators of learning, and that's as it should be."

She noted the teaching profession is moving forward rapidly.

"People will say, 'Well, when I was in school, this...' That's not the education that I want for my granddaughter," she added. "I want education that will move her into all the opportunities that she will have in the future, some that we can't even imagine."

McCorkle said today's teachers face a number of challenges, including technology and achievement testing, along with some that haven't changed, such as students with family issues they're wrestling with at home.

Reach McCorkle at 605-224-9263. Info about American Education Week is at SD school enrollment info at

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD