Earlier this morning, Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation staff and volunteers surprised Sue Bills at Whittier Middle School. Bills will begin her 44th year in the classroom tomorrow. She has spent her entire career teaching special education at Whittier.
The Education Foundation will celebrate its 15th anniversary during the 2023-2024 school year, and Board members and staff brainstormed ways to highlight the milestone. One of the suggestions was to recognize the longest-tenured teacher in the Sioux Falls School District.
To kick off the festivities in honor of our 15th anniversary, we sponsored a hot, breakfast buffet for all staff at Whittier. During the meal, we made an announcement and presented Bills with a flower and balloon bouquet. Carrie Aaron, a retired Sioux Falls School District teacher and administrator and current Education Foundation Board member, spoke about how education has changed throughout the last 40 years. Aaron and Bills were colleagues at Whittier.
“To spend more than 40 years in one profession is amazing, but to dedicate 44 years to education is phenomenal,” said Allison Struck, executive director of the Education Foundation. “This was a surprise to Sue, but when district staff found our what we were doing, they said, ‘Sue is the best!’ and ‘Sue is fantastic, there’s no one who deserves the recognition more!’ We try to show our appreciation for all staff throughout the year, and we had an incredible morning at Whittier.”
Bills started her career in the district in 1980. She teaches reading. She said the most significant change she has seen in 40+ years is the student population. When she started, there were more than 1,000 students enrolled at Whittier. Now, the number is closer to 600. She also said she has noticed the significant shift in student ethnicity. Minority students currently compose more than one third of the student population.