Dr. Kay Schallenkamp, president of Black Hills State University, is taking part in a national Math and Science Education Commission in New York City this week. Schallenkamp will co-lead a discussion titled “Defining the University Campaign and Pledge for the Science and Math Teacher Imperative.”

Schallenkamp, a nationally recognized leader in math and science education who began serving as BHSU president in July 2006, has been spearheading national educational initiatives for many years. Throughout her career, Schallenkamp has been professionally active at the state and national levels. She is president-elect of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and currently serves on the board of directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Other members of the Math and Science Education Commission panel discussion are Richard Herman, chancellor of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Jim Geringer, former governor of Wyoming; Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa State Department of Education; and Shirley Strum Kenny, president of Stony Brook University.  

This meeting is a follow-up to the inaugural meeting of the University Science and Mathematics Teacher Education Commission that was held in June. The commission brings together nationally prominent professors, teachers, city and state superintendents, business executives, university administrators and former governors dedicated to helping schools across the nation increase the number of highly qualified science and math teachers. The commission’s objectives are to stimulate significantly greater commitment by science faculty to make teacher education highly valued; revitalize professional development for in-service teachers; establish and sustain mutually beneficial K-16 partnerships; develop an understanding of state needs for science and mathematics teachers; and analyze teacher preparation program components and their effectiveness.

Schallenkamp noted that math and science education is a priority for BHSU. The S.D. Board of Regents this year designated the increase of math and science educators as one of BHSU’s performance indicators. Schallenkamp is leading a plan dedicated to increasing the number of teachers who earn math and science teaching degrees from BHSU.

BHSU, which has the largest teacher education program in the state, is recognized as a leader in mathematics and science education. Several new scholarship programs have just recently been put in place to recruit and train future math and science education teachers. Dakota ASSETS, an acronym for South Dakota All Students are Served by Exceptional Teachers, is a major collaborative grant awarded to Black Hills State University and Black Hills Special Services (TIE) cooperative. This five-year $758,988 grant will support the recruitment, training, and placement of talented individuals from other fields into teaching positions in K-12 classrooms and support them during their first years in the classroom. In addition, BHSU recently received significant donations for science and math education scholarships. 

BHSU is poised to promote enhanced learning opportunities for math and science students through SUSEL(Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Lab) that will be developed at the former Homestake lab just 20 miles from the University. Last week, Schallenkamp was part of a delegation that traveled to Washington D.C. for a national conference focusing on research opportunities at the SUSEL laboratory in Lead. The meeting included international and national scientists who discussed possibilities for research at the SUSEL lab.

Schallenkamp notes that BHSU, with its tradition of excellence in preparing educational leaders combined with its strong science program, is uniquely qualified to develop the outreach activities associated with the national lab development. BHSU will take a leading role in the development of educational outreach which is a primary component of the lab development.

The Center for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education (CAMSE) at BHSU is a natural conduit for helping connect world-renowned scientists that SUSEL will attract to the area with K-12 students, teachers, and districts across the state. Dr. Ben Sayler, director of CAMSE, is working with Lab officials to determine how BHSU can facilitate collaborations during the development.

 “This is a natural connection for us,” Sayler says. “BHSU offers exactly what SUSEL is interested in – science education outreach.  Our proximity to the lab just magnifies that connection.”

CAMSE has been successfully providing science educational outreach for more than 10 years. The center has received over $5 million in National Science Foundation (NSF) awards for teacher education through its history and is, and will continue to be, actively involved in the design of educational programming and an interactive visitor center for the for the Lab. Thousands of teachers have benefited from CAMSE’s existing outreach programs. SUSEL will build on and draw from this expertise.

SUSEL will provide additional opportunities for BHSU students. Even as the water is being pumped from the former Homestake Mine students at BHSU are part of research project analyzing the water samples.