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The Newsletter of Black Hills Special Services Cooperative
June 2021


BHSSC's Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) Division is a partner on the federal grant, Rethink​ing K-12 Education Models (REM), awarded to the South Dakota Department of Education. South Dakota State University and the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center are also partners.

The three-year project's goal is to help students learn successfully at school, home, or with blended learning approaches and support families as they navigate these options. Grant activities include:
  • online courses on competency-based instruction for more than 1,600 SD educators 
  • colloquia on competency-based education for school leadership teams
  • teacher candidate preparation in competency-based teaching
  • opportunity to earn a Teaching Online Certificate
  • partner with the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center to assist families in supporting their child’s learning and to support schools in engaging with families.
TIE Learning Specialist and REM Assistant Program Director, Dr. Cari Kennedy, says, "Competency-based education provides students the opportunity to grow and be an active, engaged participant in their education. It provides for time, choice, flexibility, and individuality. The opportunities that this grant has afforded for professional development will lead our students into a bright future."
Learn More

Recent Highlights

Check out a few of the many projects happening in our Five Divisions of Service:

Community, Family, & Special Services

During the 2020-21 school year, Family and Community Engagement Learning Specialist, Jeanne Burckhard-McKenna, coordinated a series of Regifting Store events throughout the Black Hills region.

More than 1,000 adults were served at these events, which offer free gently used clothing, bedding, housewares, and other gently used items. A Rapid City Homeless Connect partnership event will be on June 24, 2021 in the old Albertson's building. In addition to the BHSSC Regifting Store, there will be 19 community agencies, including the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center, to help participants find resources in the local area.

Additional Regifting Store events are being planned for this summer at the Mother Butler Center in July and Douglas School District in August. If you would like to donate items or volunteer, please contact Jeanne Burckhard-McKenna:
I'd like to volunteer or donate!
Through a partnership with the South Dakota School for the Deaf, the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) has presented two virtual storytimes in American Sign Language (ASL).

Carmen Steen, Assistant Professor of ASL at Augustana University, shared Porter the Hoarder and the Ransacked Room in ASL and says, "So many agencies came together to make these videos happen. Thank you for helping make our vision a reality in providing signed stories to our deaf children."

Lance Sigdestad, Community Service Specialist at Communication Service for the Deaf, signed the story How to Trap a Leprechaun and says, "I feel honored to be a part of a wonderful team who lets me share my language with other deaf and hard of hearing children."

Twenty families attended the Porter the Hoarder ASL Live Event, and the story recordings have received hundreds of views on SD SFEC's YouTube channel. More stories in ASL are planned for the future!
Watch the ASL Storytime Video

Developmental Disabilities Division

Relaxing in the sensory room, experiencing "Jurassic World" dinosaurs with VR goggles, planting squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, and wildflowers -- these are just a few of the activities that people supported by the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Division can take part in again.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, staff have diligently followed CDC guidelines. DD Division Assistant Director, Ronda Feterl, says she wants to commend the knowledge and planning of the division's medical team and the dedication of "a great group of staff."

With 41 years of combined work experience in the field, staff members, Ashley Yellow, Diana Hayford, Shanna Callies, and Mikkal Black, say they are excited to be back and look forward to being able to plan more activities this summer. Feterl says, "These guys are amazing -- they have the confidence to handle anything."

Education & Workforce Development

Project SEARCH of the Black Hills -- a business-led transition program for students with disabilities -- held its graduation celebration on May 3, 2021 at Rapid Skillz.

This year 21 businesses located in Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, and Hot Springs partnered with the program to provide internships for students. Nine interns graduated and have already found or are working toward permanent employment!

Thank you to local partners: About You Physical Therapy, Barnyard Vet, Black Hills Bagels, Black Hills State University, Creekside Christian School, DuPont Realty, Fischer Furniture, Forget-Me-Not Floral, Fork Real Cafe, Godfrey Brake, Hot Springs Elementary, Love, Inc., Monument Health in Rapid City and Sturgis, Rapid City Area Schools, Rapid Skillz, Runnings in Rapid City and Sturgis, Southwest Middle School, Sturgis Meats, and the YMCA.
Project Skills provides students with disabilities the opportunity to learn different skills in a variety of paid job placements before they graduate with the assistance of a job coach. Project Skills helps to first build the student's work history and professional references and later helps them move into different and better jobs as they mature and are ready to take on new challenges.

The program is a cooperative arrangement between the state vocational rehabilitation agencies and local school districts. BHSSC coordinates Project Skills for several school districts in the region, including Belle Fourche, Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead/Deadwood, Douglas, and Hill City.

Program Coordinator, Kimberly Scott, says, "I am extremely passionate about this program and have been able to be a part of it for the past 18 years. The best part of this job is being able to help students get work experience that they might not otherwise be able to and watching them grow, mature, and gain confidence in their abilities. It’s not as scary for the students to find work after they graduate knowing they are capable of working and doing a good job."

Scott works with an average of 40 students per school year and helps students during the summer as well. A few of the work sites this year were CBH Cooperative in Belle Fourche, Richter’s Tire & Exhaust in Sturgis, and Piedmont Valley Elementary School.
South Dakota's National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) was an event sponsor at this spring's Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention held West River for the first time in nearly 100 years of the state convention's history.

BHSSC's NFJP staff enjoyed the opportunity to meet and discuss future plans with FFA students from across South Dakota. NFJP is a federally funded program, administered locally by BHSSC, that provides financial support to individuals who have earned wages doing farm or ranch work.

Students with ag backgrounds who’ve benefited from NFJP have expressed how the program helped with their education: by receiving financial support, NFJP provided them with the opportunity to obtain the skills and training they needed to pursue high demand, high paying jobs they enjoy. 

Health & Human Services

The Transition Summer Institute will be July 12-13, 2021 at the Ramkota in Pierre, SD.

This training provides high school general and special educators, paraprofessionals, and special education directors valuable information regarding transition to adulthood topics for students with disabilities.

Join us for two full days of in-person learning and networking with colleagues, as well as an opportunity to meet adult service agency representatives from around the state!
Download Registration Form

TIE Technology & Innovation in Education

In partnership with, TIE is offering year-long virtual Computer Science Professional Development for teachers!

The kick off is this summer with a 5-day virtual training July 19-23, 2021. Earn up to 3 graduate credits for the year!

"Computer Science Discoveries" is geared for grades 6-10 teachers and "Computer Science Principles" is aimed at high school teachers. 
Learn More
#TIE21 Virtual Conference was held on April 18-19 with over 1000 registrants. Thank you to all the presenters, sponsors, and attendees.

Save the date for next year's conference: April 3-5, 2022 LIVE in Sioux Falls, SD! 
Copyright © 2021 Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2885 Dickson Drive
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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