New scholarship shows support for future teacher candidates


The people who provide the foundation for everyone’s education are often undervalued by society, according to some faculty in the Teaching, Learning and Leadership Department.

“Teaching is the profession that creates all others,” Mary Bowne, an Early Childhood Education professor at South Dakota State University, said. “Unfortunately, sometimes we are not as valued or appear to be valued as other majors and disciplines.”

But, with the new future teacher scholarship funded by Gail and Larry Tidemann, two $1,000 scholarships will now go to support future teachers each year at SDSU.

The scholarship is available to any student in their sophomore, junior or senior year pursuing their teacher’s certificate. It is not just limited to those within the college of Teaching, Learning and Leadership since the education preparation program cuts across several different colleges, Andrew Stremmel, the department head of Teaching, Learning and Leadership said.

“The teaching profession is one that is not valued and respected by a lot of people,” Stremmel said. “And when people of the caliber of Larry and Gail Tidemann say we want to provide a scholarship for people who want to become teachers, that’s a powerful message that is valued.”

In a recent press release, Larry Tidemann said he hopes the fund will encourage students to enter the field of teaching and it will inspire others to offer support.

“We’re hoping this primes the pump for other community members and alumni to consider donating,” Tidemann said in the press release.

In light of the recent teacher shortage issue in South Dakota, Susanne Brokmeier, an early childhood education professor and supervisor of the student teachers, believes this may help.

“We could talk or worry about teacher shortages, but it really comes to valuing the college students already as they enter the profession, not waiting until they’re in the classrooms,” Brokmeier said.

Though the scholarship is open to students in their sophomore, junior or senior year, Stremmel believes it would be especially helpful to senior teacher education students in their year of residency.

Students pursuing most of the teacher education programs are required to complete a year of residency within the schools during their last two semesters. This means the student will spend a year working collaboratively with a clinical educator, a teacher and will be involved with things such as classroom management, teaching strategies and lesson planning.

“We want to make sure our students are the best-prepared individuals going out into the educational system,” Bowne said.

This is beneficial because it gives the students a hands-on experience, getting them more involved with the day to day situations of classroom teaching, Bowne said.

“They’re able to get to know students, too. They’re able to build that relationship with them right away the very first day of class along with the clinical educator they’re working with,” Bowne said. “This allows for more time and growth to occur.”

The experience is beneficial, but it can also take a toll on the student.

“Our students face a challenge financially with student teaching for a full academic year,” Bowne said. “Student teaching in itself is a full-time job.”

Bowne estimates student teaching takes up at least 40 to 50 hours a week, if not more.

“There’s no way for them to really have another job to support their living accommodations and basic needs,” Bowne said.

Brokmeier agreed that the students face a financial burden.

“It can be a long time to go a semester, let alone a whole year without a part time job to support themselves,” Brokmeier said. “ Students are already under stress with having to take out student loans. And, even if they didn’t, I think that the whole feeling of support and acknowledgement of how important this time is, is also very valuable.”

Jill Thorngren, the dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, has hopes for the precedent set by these new scholarships.

“We want community members and alumni to invest in these young teachers and work out ways to help them through their yearlong student-teaching programs,” Thorngren said in the press release.

The student teachers are excited about teaching and what they are doing, so the amount of work it takes isn’t negative, Brokmeier said. But it is a large time commitment.

“Teaching is a way of life—it’s not a job you clock out of after five o’clock,” Brokmeier said. “It consumes you and I think that sometimes the student teachers aren’t always prepared for the way it takes over your life.”

Daryl Clark, is an early childhood education major with both a kindergarten and special education endorsement and is currently going through student teaching.

“Student teaching is a great experience. I think there’s a lot of value in it,” Clark said. “But we don’t get paid for it.”

Clark also emphasized the importance of teachers.

“Teachers spend eight to nine hours with these students,” Clark said. “They don’t even get that time with their family sometimes, so teachers become their main supporters.”

Teachers have the potential to strongly influence the lives of their students, Stremmel said.

“I think teachers, people who teach, do so because they feel like they have an opportunity to change a life, influence people in a positive way. And that kind of feeling that you can do that, to me, is intrinsically rewarding,” Stremmel said.

Teachers are an important part of society with no substitute, Brokmeier said.

“It’s a human endeavor,” Brokemeier said. “Building relationships and having personal connections is something that can’t be replaced by technology or reading about it in a book.”