BHSU News & Events

BHSU mascot surprises local educators of the year

 
 Tammy Jo Schlechter, Class of '94 and current BHSU graduate student, was awarded the Custer School District's Teacher of the Year and outstanding teacher for Region 7.
 
 Lead-Deadwood School District Teacher of the Year Kim Fundaun, class of '79, is pictured with Sting and Tom Wheaton, BHSU director of alumni relations.
 
 BHSU mascot Sting surprises Kristin Wheaton, Class of '99, the Mead School County District Teacher of the Year.
The Black Hills State University Yellow Jacket mascot “Sting” spent the last several weeks touring the Black Hills making stops at local schools to surprise University alumni who were recognized as outstanding educators.

Sting and Tom Wheaton, BHSU director of alumni relations, stopped and congratulated five local teachers who received awards for teachers of the year in either their school or district. Those honored include:

  • Tammy Jo (Howard) Schlechter, Class of ’94 and current BHSU graduate student, was awarded the Custer School District’s Teacher of the Year and outstanding teacher for Region 7;
  • Kim Fundaun, Class of ’79, was recognized with the Lead-Deadwood School District Teacher of the Year;
  • Kristin (Schamber) Wheaton, Class of ’99, was honored with the Meade School County District Teacher of the Year;
  • Punky Engesser, Class of ’91, was honored as the Spearfish Middle School Teacher of the Year; and
  • Carlene (Schlup) Burke, Class of ’92, was awarded the Spearfish Creekside Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Schlechter, who is currently working toward her master’s in curriculum and instruction at BHSU, has taught math, American history and reading with the Custer School District for six years. Prior to joining the district, Schlechter taught fourth through eighth grade in rural schools. According to Custer school officials, Schlechter strives to build a rapport with her students and attends many of their events and activities.

Fundaun has taught a variety of science courses throughout the Lead-Deadwood District for more than three decades.  Several colleagues through the district commented on his support and understanding of students of all ability levels, and his constant positive attitude.

K. Wheaton has been teaching science,including biology, honor’s biology, AP biology and chemistry, at Sturgis Brown High School for 14 years.  “I simply feel honored to be recognized,” she said. “It is wonderful to know that I have the respect of my peers and administration.”  Wheaton said she enjoys challenging her student and helping those struggling students become successful. “I enjoy finding ways to educate students outside of my classroom walls,” she said. 

 
Punky Engesser, Class of '91, was recently honored as the Spearfish Middle School Teacher of the Year.
 
 Carlene Burke, Class of '92, was awarded the Spearfish Creekside Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Engesser has been a sixth grade special education for Spearfish Middle School for 21 years. “This honor is very special to me as it is nice to be recognized for doing a job I love,” she said. “It is a joy to work with my students every day and try to be a positive influence in their lives.”

Burke has taught fourth grade at Creekside Elementary, and the former Spearfish East Elementary, for nearly 20 years. “This honor means so much to me,” she said. “To be chosen by your own peers is very rewarding.” Burke said she loves teaching fourth grade because she feels it is a time when students are taking what they have learned and looking to expand that knowledge. “I want to give my students the best education possible,” she said. “Establishing the ‘I can’ attitude is one of the first things I strive to do with my students. I enjoy watching them achieve success and telling them, ‘See, you can do it.’”

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