Jefferson opened in the fall of 2021, and the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation was thrilled to award four Public School Proud Grants to educators at Sioux Falls’ newest high school.
Arlene Smith, Native American Connections teacher, received $1,500 for her proposal, “Tiyóspaye Owáyawa – Inclusive Drum Circle.” She will use funds to purchase a traditional Lakota drum that will be used by students in the Native American Connections Club. The club focuses on culture, history, and community, and the drum circle will meet twice a month after school to concentrate on culture through traditional song. In Lakota culture, a drum must be earned and built for those who use it; they are not produced commercially. The Native American Connections Club has found a Native elder who is a drum-maker, and he has agreed to attend the meetings to prepare the group to receive the drum. There are drum circles in other high schools in Sioux Falls, but this will be the first one where females are included as drummers and singers. Students will perform at multi-cultural events and Native American Day festivities.
Jared Hulstine is the second Public School Proud Grant winner. He received $1,398.30 for his proposal, “Art Gallery Display.” In the application, he wrote, “The art studio classrooms are state-of-the-art. However, there is limited display for showing artwork. There is great hallway wall space that could be utilized to show off the creative endeavors of students throughout the school year. A dedicated gallery space with proximity to our classrooms can provide opportunities for critiques and for students to design exhibitions and present their in-progress and final artwork. Having a unique and dedicated area for student exhibits and art shows will offer a real-world experience for students that doesn’t exist in many school spaces beyond bulletin boards or the odd display case. Students will learn how to prepare, curate, and install art displays and how to take care of the system for many years to follow.”
Emily Leitheiser and Cassie Blair received $1,904 for their grant, “Breakout with Knowledge.” They will use funds to purchase 16 Breakout EDU kits for 9th grade biology students. In the application, they wrote, “The Breakout EDU kits and the activities will allow students to fully engage with a locked box in front of them. The goal is to use their knowledge to solve the puzzles that give them codes and/or combinations which will open the locks holding the box closed. When they successfully answer questions and open all the locks, they are rewarded by ‘breaking into’ the box. These kits will allow students to understand the material and content in a different way as they collaborate as a team to unlock the box by answering questions and working together. These kits will allow teachers to create and use a multitude of resources to reinforce our science content. The scenarios will allow students to develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving strategies, and practice teamwork. They can also be used in a variety of ways. They may be used as a review tool before an assessment; to reinforce new science content; and, most importantly, as an opportunity to develop leadership skills, build strong interpersonal relationships, and see learning as fun and relatable.”
Last, but not least, Kevin Kurtz received a $2,500 Public School Proud Grant for his proposal, “Installing a Mirror in the Music.” He will use funds to fill the district’s music library with selections by composers who are currently under-represented. In the application, he wrote, “The SFSD Music Library holds 2800 compositions. Of those, less than two percent of the compositions were written or arranged by a female composer; however, females make up 49 percent of the SFSD student body. Of those 2800 compositions, less than three percent were written or arranged by individuals of color; according to the 2021 District Demographic Report, non-white students make up 40.7 percent of the total student body in the SFSD. The money from this grant will be used to fill the band library with music composed by female and diverse composers to increase representation.”