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BHSU grad to design the first autism classroom in Meade School District

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, April 29, 2019/Categories: Students, Students in the News, Academic Affairs, Alumni, Campus Currents, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Community, Faculty, Staff, 2019

Full-time jobs, internships, and advanced degrees. In this series, Black Hills State University will highlight the future plans of some of the University’s May 2019 graduates.

Name, major, and hometown?
My name is Makenzie Skovlund. I’m from Sturgis, South Dakota, and I am a special education major.

Who is your favorite professor at BHSU?
Dr. Jessica Zanton. She was always willing to help. I took many classes with her – she’s very knowledgeable and I really connected with her. I’ve talked with Dr. Zanton about the classroom I’ll be teaching in next year; she’s already a great resource for me in that sense, too. In one of her classes I wrote my first-ever Individualized Education Program (IEP). For special education, that’s a huge part of our job. Having the class to practice and her feedback was incredible.

Tell me about your plans after graduation.
I accepted a position with Meade School District at the Sturgis Elementary School. I’ll be building an autism classroom, it’s the first in the district. I’ll be building it from the ground up.

What were you involved in during college?
I was a program aide at an afterschool program. Because many of my classes were online, I was also able to be a paraprofessional at a school in Sturgis. It was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience while I was going to school.

Tell me about a moment when you experienced growth during college.
Student teaching. When you’re in the classroom every day, you realize there is so much that impacts student learning. The biggest thing I realized is that it doesn’t always matter what’s in your lesson plan. If the child is having a bad day, they just need their teacher to be there for them, to give them a hug, and to encourage them. That’s what I learned through student teaching – sometimes the content of your lesson plan is going to take the back burner and you just need to be there for those kids, love them, and be there for their emotional health as well, not only the mental and academic aspects of teaching.

What will you miss about Black Hills State?
I think I’ll miss the comradery – having those other special education majors that I can talk to and text. That sense of belonging that I’m a SPED major and I have all these people on my team.

What’s your favorite memory at Black Hills State?
I loved homecoming week and going to the football game. BHSU is not a huge school and you still have that “hometown” feel here, along with the college athletics.

How are you feeling as you approach graduation?
I feel ready. Black Hills State really prepared me. The education program is wonderful. I’m also a little sad. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this chapter and have that new one on the horizon.

How has BHSU prepared you for your future?
Having all those opportunities to be in the classroom, even before you get to student teaching, is very helpful. Having the Field Experiences Office at BHSU, Micheline Nelson and Jean Osborn, there for you during the entire process and you can always turn to them with your questions. I’m so thankful I came here. My mom said the same thing – she earned her teaching credential from BHSU. It’s a great program and it really prepares you for your future and your teaching career.

BHSU will celebrate the university’s 177th Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center. The public is invited to join and celebrate the students’ achievements. An honorary doctorate will be bestowed upon Major Dr. Brett Theeler, BHSU Class of 2001, a neurosurgeon in the U.S. Army. An honorary doctorate will be bestowed upon Major Dr. Brett Theeler, BHSU Class of 2001, a neurosurgeon in the U.S. Army.

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