USD professor named 2008 â�?�?Champion for Childrenâ�?�? Dr. Gera Jacobs, a professor at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, has been named a 2008 Champion for Children by South Dakota Voices for Children. She was one of two who received recognition in the individual/professional category. A nationally recognized professor of the year and an award-winning author, Jacobs led the taskforce charged with responsibility for establishing South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines for preschool children. She also developed and delivered training on those guidelines in collaboration with the state Division of Child Care Services. Her book, â�?�?Play, Projects, and Preschool Standardsâ�? received both the Teacherâ�?�?s Choice Award and Best Instructional Book Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. Also recognized in the individual/professional Champion for Children category was Jeanne Burckhard, principal of Rapid Cityâ�?�?s North Middle School. She won recognition for her efforts to combat bullying, racism and poverty. As a result of her innovations, student behavior has improved, as has attendance. And families in need have benefited from the bags of food they receive through the schoolâ�?�?s Backpack Program. Sioux Fallsâ�?�? Wesley United Methodist Church is South Dakota Voices for Childrenâ�?�?s 2008 Champion for Children in the volunteer organization/community group category for outreach to children in its multiracial, often-transient Sioux Falls neighborhood. In the professional organization/community group category, the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper as a community leader and community partner in promoting available resources and services for the youth and children of the Northern Hills. This was also the inaugural year of South Dakota Voices for Childrenâ�?�?s George S. Mickelson Policy Leader Award. Named in honor of the late South Dakota governor, this first award was presented posthumously to him. It honors his effectiveness, compassion and leadership specifically in the areas of education and juvenile justice.