Afterschool Learning Adventures at Horace Mann Elementary

On weekdays after school at Horace Mann Elementary School in Rapid City, the learning continues for more than 60 K-5th graders at the Discovery Center. Program Director, Desmond Keller, says the afterschool program offers a place for students to put into practice the skills they've learned during the regular school day. Horace Mann Site Coordinator, Relepha Laughlin, adds that she's proud of the community partnerships they have established, such as with Girl Scouts of America. Through STEM activities led by Girl Scouts representative, Jenny Paxton, boys and girls have the chance to explore science and technology topics in greater depth while having fun at the same time. During the "Apples-Ahead" relay race students studied gravity, force, and motion! Another exciting partnership is with the Orlando Philharmonic during Discovery's summer program. Students get the opportunity to explore musical instruments and attend a concert performed just for them.

Horace Mann Elementary's Discovery Center program also helps students practice healthy habits like exercise. During these cold winter months what better way to exercise than running up the hill at Horace Mann and sledding back down! Discovery provides sleds so that students can enjoy the snow outside. Relepha says, “Discovery makes a huge difference for these kiddos. They are in a safe, stimulating, and academically enriching environment learning social and emotional skills, eating nutritious meals and snacks, creating friendships, and having fun!”

Funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grants through the U.S. Department of Education, the new federal budget currently eliminates funding for afterschool and summer programs, such as the Discovery Center. If you believe these programs are important for kids and families, contact your local legislator to express your support!

Developing Trauma-Informed Practices for Employers

The Career Learning Center of the Black Hills hosted a "pilot" Employer Training about Trauma-Informed Practices recently at the Black Hills Community Bank for 20 local employers and employer representatives. The U.S. unemployment rate has held steady at 3.5%--remaining at its lowest level in 50 years. This has resulted in the need for training to accommodate a labor force whose needs may be different than that of the past.

Tracy Palecek, a Licensed Professional Counselor, of Palecek Therapy, provided the training, which included strategies in the workplace to decrease the stress of employees and the benefits of considering changes to policies and procedures in the workplace to retain employees. Survey results from participants afterward indicated there is a high interest in this type of training. One attendee noted that they learned "how important it is to involve and listen to employees to build flexible policies and practices to meet their needs." The next step in rolling out this training will be to contact those in attendance to identify what specific training they would like the CLC to provide to their employees or representatives of employer groups. 

This pilot training was provided through a Community Innovation Grant from the Bush Foundation entitled “Moving Beyond Trauma to Building Career Pathways" and is part of a long-term plan at the CLC to implement trauma-informed practices and to share these practices with the wider community.

Professional Internships for Students with Disabilities

Project SEARCH is a business-led, transition-to-work internship program for high school students with disabilities with sites all around the world. South Dakota has five Project SEARCH locations, two of which are partnerships with Monument Health in Rapid City and Sturgis. Students ages 18-21 who are eligible for special education services and who would like to get a variety of real, on-the-job work experiences are encouraged to apply! Applications for next year are due on Friday, February 21. Apply online! Learn more about Project SEARCH of the Black Hills.

View our new video!

Growing Our Special Education Training Services

For the past three years BHSSC's Special Education team has been piloting the Results Driven Accountability (RDA) system, in partnership with SDDOE Special Education Department, focused on improving outcomes for students with disabilities; the pilot has been implemented with 14 school districts in South Dakota. The program will launch statewide this spring. RDA Project Manager, Kyle Laughlin, says,“This is very exciting. Most states are shifting to this model, so that they’re focusing not just on the compliance part of special education programs, but on actually improving outcomes for students with disabilities. The process has been very eye-opening for districts that have taken part in it so far.”

In addition to South Dakota schools, BHSSC's RDA Team is also working with districts in Wyoming and is in conversations with multiple other states throughout the Midwest. The team has also expanded beyond this region and has been included in a Louisiana professional development guide for schools. For more information, contact Kyle Laughlin.

Upcoming Events

  • Black Hills Regional Job Fair - 3/11, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, 11AM - 5 PM
  • Families, Food, and Financial Wellness - 3/24, Fork Real Cafe, Rapid City, 5:30 - 7:30 PM - Includes a free meal and presentations for teens/adults and kids. Contact Lori Larson to learn more: (605) 394-5120
  • GED® Orientation: Learn about preparing for your GED® at this weekly orientation held Tuesdays at 11:20 AM at the Career Learning Center, 730 E. Watertown St., Rapid City
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Conference - 6/10, Sioux Falls, Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel - Sessions will be focused on three areas: Medical, Hospitality, and Labor
  • GED® Spring Graduation Ceremony - 6/12, Western Dakota Tech Event Center, 7 PM

Upcoming Community Ed Classes

Friendly, knowledgable instructors offer a wide variety of classes at affordable prices. Learn more!

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Check out the many opportunities for learning in the Black Hills and beyond!
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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