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Black Hills State University is a partner in grant funding of nearly $6 million that will be used to enhance teacher education programs with several of the programs focusing on increasing the number of math and science teachers.

Dakota ASSETS, an acronym for All Students are Served by Exceptional Teachers, is a major collaborative grant awarded to BHSU, Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE), and Teach for America. The five-year $5.9 million grant will support the recruitment, training, and placement of talented individuals into teaching positions in high need K-12 classrooms and support them during their first year in the classroom.

BHSU, which has the largest teacher education program in the state, will call upon the strengths of the existing education programs as these new initiatives are developed.

“These grant funds will be instrumental as Black Hills State University continues to take the lead in developing innovative learning opportunities,” Dr. Kay Schallenkamp, president of Black Hills State University, says. “These advances will position BHSU as a national leader in teacher preparation innovation. We are meeting the national call for high quality science and math teacher preparation programs.”

Nationwide, there is a growing need for math and science teachers, and BHSU is responding to that need in a variety of ways. These grants enhance the University’s efforts to increase the number of highly qualified teachers available in the state.  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.

All of the Dakota ASSETS programs stress theory into practice, which means participants will work toward certification as they teach regularly in a classroom, matched with a mentor teacher. Scholarships of up to $3,500 support the cost of tuition, transportation, living needs and childcare for individuals teaching in high-need schools upon graduation.

According to Dr. Nancy Hall, the Dakota ASSETS grant will provide funding to expand a successful program for mid-career professionals considering a career in teaching. It will also provide incentives for graduates to consider taking teaching positions in high-need schools within the region.

Doug Rowe and Maggie Austin, co-leaders of Dakota ASSETS at TIE, note the grant is a great collaborative project. The two organizations (BHSU and TIE) have a long history of working collaboratively to develop creative solutions for the advancement of K-12 and higher education.

“From our perspective, the power of the Dakota ASSETS grant is that it was designed to incorporate the strengths, successes, and partnerships of previous federal grants which have been awarded to TIE and Black Hills State University. This grant will enable us to continue as well as expand on proven accelerated teacher preparation models. It will also allow us to help high need schools hire and retain great teachers for South Dakota’s students,” Austin says.