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Kelly Patterson:
Shining a Light in the Darkness

     The education profession, of course, is dedicated to intellectual and emotional growth in children. Realizing there are adults in communities who systematically program low self-esteem into the brains of youth and other vulnerable people is gut-wrenching, especially for teachers.
     This wide-spread attack on self-worth is the very basis of human trafficking, a modern form of slavery that forces victims into prostitution and other types of exploitation. 
BHSSC, through its National Farmworker Jobs Program, is organizing a state Human Trafficking Awareness Conference in Pierre, March 7-8, 2019, that will feature speakers with firsthand knowledge of human trafficking horrors.
     Speakers include Rapid City's Kelly Patterson, hoping especially to "inform people who don't know anyone who has been trafficked, so that they will look at the world with different eyes." With fresh perspectives, it is possible conference attendees will recognize alarming activity in their communities. Is that girl (or boy) known as a free spirit who sometimes runs away from home actually controlled by someone else? Is the local guy charged with manufacturing pornography part of a well-financed group actively seeking new victims?
     Kelly grew up in South Dakota and is author of a book, 
From Trafficked to Treasured, available through Amazon. Often, she says, South Dakotans associate local human trafficking with outsiders drawn to the motorcycle rally or our hunting seasons. In fact, as she will explain, the problem runs much deeper. 
     Today South Dakotans are organizing as never before to shut down human trafficking and help victims regain hope. "There has to be a way for people who have been trafficked to get past the shame," Kelly asserts. "I know girls who have been brainwashed to believe everything that happened to them was their fault."
     If someone realizes she or he, or a loved one, is being trafficked, Kelly advises turning first to local law enforcement--if they trust local officers. Some victims have had law enforcement encounters that make trust difficult, and further reinforce the idea that they are to blame for their situations. In those cases there is a
National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.

To register for the 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Conference, visit
 https://bhssc.org/aware/

Emily Graslie: Bringing Wonder and Enthusiasm to Science

     Emily Graslie still remembers the 4th grade field trip she and her classmates took to the Rapid City mall to see an exhibit about extinct life of South Dakota’s Badlands: “It was totally mind blowing to me!” She brings that same enthusiasm for science to more than 488,000 subscribers worldwide through her YouTube channel “The Brain Scoop” and her role as “Chief Curiosity Correspondent” for the Field Museum in Chicago. Emily will be sharing her work as an out-of-the-box science educator at the TIE Conference in Rapid City, April 7-9, 2019.
     Growing up, Emily says she sometimes felt like the “odd kid” in school, but she always identified as a natural storyteller and lifelong learner. As a student at Rapid City Central High School, her favorite teachers included her painting and orchestra teachers, who were willing to accommodate the unique learning styles of individual learners. She pursued the fine arts in college, majoring in painting, and today Emily is passionate about the connection between art and science and says she’s never really understood why they are taught as separate disciplines in school. “Science is better when taught in conjunction with art,” she thinks. The messy, creative part of science is something that Emily wants students to recognize and enjoy. “You are wrong more often than you are correct [in the field of science],” she says.
     Emily feels that enthusiasm and a sense of wonder help make science more accessible to students. “We have only described 15% of all of the life on the planet—that is amazing and inspiring to me! What a way to empower students!” Emily says she is excited and grateful to be able share all that she has learned with South Dakota teachers and to be back in her hometown for a visit.
     If you aren’t able to see Emily at the TIE Conference in April, you might just bump into her at one of her favorite Rapid City spots—Black Hills Bagels, the Colonial House, Tally’s, Jerry’s Cakes and Donuts, “and, of course, Dinosaur Park!” she laughs.

Check out the latest "Brain Scoop" video with Emily Graslie

Connecting Families, Teachers, and Schools Across South Dakota

A new 5-year education grant, the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center, will focus on "cradle-to-career" supports for students, parents, families, and community-based organizations. The goal is to improve student development and academic achievement--especially for economically disadvantaged, minority, and English Language Learner students. BHSSC's Morgan VonHaden is a co-director of the effort and says, "We are so excited about this statewide partnership to help more students and families succeed throughout the state."

Additional SD Statewide Family Engagement Center partners include the
SD Department of Education and the SD Parent Connection.

Keeping Licensure and Certification Testing Local

     No way around it:  there's always some stress associated with taking a test that impacts employment or educational opportunities. But the Career Learning Center's Kay Crandall and Laura Hawley run a friendly, much-used test center in Rapid City that minimizes anxiety.
     "It's surprising how many people need tests for some type of employment, from food servers to trauma surgeons," says Kay.
     The Career Learning Center (CLC) in Rapid City welcomes more than 2,000 test takers annually--people seeking a vast range of professional assessment, licensure, certification, and entrance into educational programs. As proctors certified to administer exams for several national testing firms and the federal government, Laura and Kay themselves are tested regularly.
     Their pre-registered clients arrive at the CLC in the morning, show a valid form of ID, sign in and agree to exam rules, and store personal belongings in secure lockers. Virtually all testing is done electronically, and clients move into a computer-equipped room where no more than 12 test takers complete exams (applicants for federal employment are required to test in more isolated cubicles across the hall). A keyboarding test for a U.S. Postal Service job might take only five minutes, while assessment for U.S. Border Patrol positions take four-and-a- half hours. Accommodations for people with disabilities are offered. Usually test results are available before the client leaves the building.
     Test centers like this are rare across the sparsely populated Great Plains and Mountain West. Traveling from the Black Hills to Denver or Sioux Falls would pose a hardship not only for the test taker, but for his or her employer who would have to cover the position over a day or two. Conversely, clients from away certainly contribute to Rapid City's economy, buying meals, gas, and often renting a motel room.
     "Word has gotten out that you can take these tests in Rapid City," notes Laura. "Sometimes people come to us and ask if we can offer a test that we haven't done before. We research it, and usually we can." 

Copyright © 2018 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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