Cecelia White Eagle: Defining Resilience

"Resilience means getting up and showing up. It's the hard times that lead to the best days of your life--walking across that stage and they're calling your name." 

Cecelia White Eagle is reflective as she discusses the path that led to her recent graduation from Western Dakota Tech with a degree in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement Emphasis. Cecelia is the first in her family to graduate from college.

There were many hard times, including leaving high school at 17 and later becoming homeless at one point, but Cecelia kept moving forward and finding a way. She knew that she needed to complete her GED® to make a better life for herself and found the support she needed at the Career Learning Center of the Black Hills (CLC).

"The best thing about [the CLC] is the people who are here because they see me...They believed in me when I didn’t. They were a torch in the dark."

Cecelia says she will continue pursuing higher education. "I love school--I found out I'm a nerd!" she laughs. She plans to go on to earn her bachelor's and master's degrees.

Summer Fun at Tech Camps for Kids

For the second year in a row, TIE held "Adventures in Tech" summer day camps for students. This year a two-day camp just for girls was added, as well as scholarships provided by grants from Rapid City's Cosmopolitan Club and BHSSC

TIE Learning Specialist, Julie Erickson, helped facilitate the camps and her enthusiasm for the topic shines as she says the goal is to provide more exposure to computer science for younger students.

"I didn't have a clue what went into computer science and engineering until I was in college. At the tech camps, kids make connections with hands-on activities--creating circuits, using breadboards--it’s just so fun to see them tinkering and problem solving."

Julie says there are so many applications for the skills students practice through exploring computer science. 

"Collaborating, trouble-shooting, taking risks, failing--and building confidence, creativity, and persistence as they do these things. What excites me is when kids can leave here and apply what they’ve learned other places.”

National Customized Learning Summit

Educators from Maine to California convened in Rapid City for the third-annual National MCL Summit in July.

It was an opportunity for educators to network with each other and do "deep dives" into topics related to Customized Learning, the movement to make K-12 education more learner centered. TIE has been at the forefront of this in South Dakota, guiding school districts in the process of customizing their curriculums to meet learners' individual needs.

In her welcoming remarks at the summit, TIE Director, Dr. Julie Mathiesen, said "this is where education is headed, and we're committed to being at the leading edge of this effort."

Learn more about what Customized Learning is all about in a "day-in-the-life" at Medary Elementary School in Brookings.

NFJP Success Stories

Raedon Anderson began working as a hired-hand farm laborer in middle school and continued through high school. Raedon knew he wanted to pursue post-secondary education and decided to attend Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), enrolling in the Power Line and Construction Maintenance Program.

During his first year at MTI, Raedon worked part time, taking care of livestock, but found that his wages were not enough to cover his living and school expenses. He considered quitting school in order to work more. Then he learned that he qualified for the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) and could receive assistance with school costs, rent, and groceries.

This support enabled Raedon to focus on his academic goals and graduate with his lineman certification. He went on to find full-time employment with benefits. According to Raedon, "the NFJP proves that hard work is rewarded." 
Timothy Hawkins is a father of two daughters and walleye-fishing enthusiast. Tim did seasonal farm work on a large farm near where he grew up in Nebraska and liked the work, but it did not provide the employment stability he needed to take care of his family.

After overcoming difficulties due to substance abuse and nine months of incarceration, Tim moved to the Black Hills for a new start. It was here that he connected with NFJP. After determining his eligibility for the program, NFJP provided Tim with rent, gas, and food money as he searched for a job.

Tammy Sellars, Tim's NFJP Caseworker at the Career Learning Center of the Black Hills, helped him find full-time employment at TruNorth Steel in Rapid City. This new-found stability let Tim have his daughters for longer visits in Rapid City. Tim says he's grateful for NFJP’s support and the experience has shown him that “perseverance pays off!” 
Copyright © 2019 Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, All rights reserved. Black Hills Special Services Cooperative is a public entity, an extension of 12 western South Dakota public school districts. We are an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 218, Sturgis, SD  57785

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Black Hills Special Services Cooperative · PO Box 281 · Sturgis, SD 57785-0281 · USA

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