Local teachers participate in Professional Development Center program through USD

Local teachers participate in Professional Development Center program through USD The Vermillion School District is participating in the innovative Professional Development Center (PDC) program through The University of South Dakota. Veteran teachers Barb Hansen, Scott Brink, Kelly Gilkyson and Anne Manning will be mentoring Travis Hensch, Jason Gault, Erin Reynolds, Andrew Fisher, Courtney Anderson and Kirsten Iverson.

Manning has 16 years of teaching experience. For the past 10 years she has taught at Austin School in Vermillion. Previously she taught kindergarten at St. Agnes School and in Elk Point. She will be mentoring Courtney Anderson, kindergarten teacher and Kirsten Iverson, first-grade teacher. Manning's other duties for the school district will include co-chairing a committee on the year long NCA review, compiling grade level handbooks, and developing curriculum. Accepted to the USD graduate school, she is pursuing a doctorate of education degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading. She and her husband, Dan, have three children: Shanna, Shane and Troy.

Anderson is originally from Milford, IA and is a 2000 graduate of USD with a degree in elementary education. She will be teaching kindergarten at Austin Elementary School this year. Anderson will be pursuing a master's degree in early childhood special education.

Iverson, a Vermillion native, is a 1996 graduate of Vermillion High School and a 2000 graduate of USD with a degree in elementary education. She will be teaching first grade at Austin Elementary School while working toward her master's degree in elementary education.

Gilkyson is a veteran teacher who has taught fifth grade in Vermillion for 22 years. She will be mentoring Andrew Fisher, fifth-grade teacher. Her other duties for the school district include co-chairing a committee on the year-long NCA review, compiling grade level handbooks, and developing curriculum. Gilkyson has been accepted to the graduate school at USD, and will be pursuing a reading specialist degree. She and her husband, Kim, have four children: Jenna, Brittney, Blair, and Blake.

Fisher will be teaching fifth-grade at Jolley School during the 2000-2001 school year. In May, Fisher graduated with a B.S. in education from The University of South Dakota. He will be pursuing a master's degree in school counseling. During the past three summers, Fisher has also worked at Camp Foster YMCA in Okoboji, IA.

Hansen has been teaching British literature, English I and drama at Vermillion High School for the past two years. Prior to 1998, she taught in Hurley. Hansen graduated from high school in Murdo, and received her undergraduate degree from Northern State University. She lives in Hurley with her husband, Bill, and three children, Kristian, Jasmyn and Logan. Hansen is pursuing a master's degree in secondary education. For the 2000-2001 school year, Hansen will be mentoring Travis Hensch and Jason Gault and co-chairing a committee on the year-long NCA review.

Hensch comes to Vermillion from Bethel, AK, where he has been teaching for the past two years. He received his B.S. in secondary education English from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, MN in 1998. Hensch has coached varsity/junior varsity basketball for the past four years and wrestling for the past two. He lives in Vermillion with his wife Shana, son Bryce, and daughter Brandy. Hensch is pursuing his master's degree in technology for training and development, while teaching composition and publications classes at Vermillion High School.

Gault will be teaching English I, British Literature, and drama at Vermillion High School during this school year. He graduated with a B.S. English education degree from The University of South Dakota in 1998. Gault was employed by Vermillion High School as a part-time English teacher in the spring of 1999 and has returned to Vermillion after teaching language arts at Marshall High School in Marshall, MN. He is pursuing his master's degree in technology training and development.

Brink will be mentoring Erin Reynolds in social studies at VHS. Brink has been at VHS since 1997 and has taught American heritage, world geography, geography II, and current events. While mentoring Reynolds, he will continue to teach American heritage as well as assisting with a new tutor program and aiding with NCA review. He will also continue to be the senior class advisor and involved as a volunteer soccer coach. Bink has a BSED in history education with a minor in social sciences from USD. He will be working towards his master's in interdisciplinary studies through the PDC program. Brink lives in Vermillion with his wife DeLana and his son Ethan.

Reynolds will be mentored by Brink. She graduated from USD with a BSED in history with a social science minor. She now lives in Elk Point, but is originally from Oklahoma City, OK. She will be teaching American and world history at Vermillion High School. She is pursuing her master's degree in curriculum and instruction at USD.

The PDC program began at The University of South Dakota in 1993 and has evolved into an effective program for first year, as well as for mid-career teachers. The USD-PDC groups, which this year include Beresford, Bon Homme, Dakota Valley, Elk Point-Jefferson, Vermillion, and West Central were initiated to encourage experienced teachers to exchange ideas and to demonstrate methods and strategies with the first year teachers to improve teaching and learning for all students.

Research has shown that beginning teachers leave within the first few years of their educational careers. The PDC is aimed to combat their feelings of isolation and frustration by pairing them with experienced mentors who are committed to education and professional development. All first year teachers have received a bachelor's degree in their field; they perform all functions and hold all responsibilities of a regular classroom teacher. Veteran teachers are afforded the opportunity for professional development and significant effects have been shown in self-efficacy, collegiality, and conceptualization of teaching. Experienced teachers in the PDC program are also provided with time to spend working on a project specific to each district, which may include curriculum development, technology integration, and community involvement. All teachers also undertake the task of advancing their degrees through The University of South Dakota.

The benefits of the PDC program are numerous and exciting. Vermillion School District will have increased opportunity to demonstrate, evaluate, and develop the best curriculum, learning activities, and teaching methods for their students. The PDC also fosters collaborative interactions among primary, secondary, and higher education teachers for opportunities to influence both existing practices in schools and teacher education programs at the university level.

The children in the district receive the ultimate benefits of the PDC. The goal of all PDC teachers is to provide quality instruction to the children in their classrooms. This is accomplished through the collaborative efforts of novice teachers, experienced teachers, and district staff and administrators, and the USD teacher education faculty.

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