When Black Hills State University senior KeAnna Ward of Belle Fourche begins her first teaching job at Martin Elementary School this fall, it will be a homecoming. KeAnna will teach in the same fourth grade classroom where her student teaching experience was cut short this spring due to COVID-19.
“My clinical educator knew she was going to retire this year, and asked me if I would come student teach for her. She knew how I interacted with her students, and I knew how the school worked. It’s nice having that foot in the door,” says KeAnna, who majored in elementary education at BHSU.
KeAnna comes from a BHSU family. Her father, Vern Ward, attended BHSU. Like KeAnna, her father competed for the Yellow Jacket Rodeo Team. Her older sister, Fehrin Brindley, graduated from BHSU in 2018. KeAnna’s younger sister, Sierra Ward, is a sophomore at BHSU and plays on the volleyball team.
“I love the atmosphere of Black Hills State, that homey feeling, but there are also so many students that you can meet someone new every day. It’s nice having both of those aspects in one school,” says KeAnna.
This could have been KeAnna’s big year at the College National Finals Rodeo, which was scheduled to be held in June but cancelled because of the pandemic. KeAnna had qualified for the CNFR in two of the previous years in the goat tying event.
“I loved college rodeo. We traveled quite a bit and it was a great experience seeing new places. My favorite memory from college is our hometown rodeo, the Will Lantis Yellow Jacket Stampede. All of our friends from college were able to come out and support us,” says KeAnna.
At BHSU, KeAnna says Dr. Faye LaDuke-Pelster was her favorite professor. She appreciated Dr. LaDuke-Pelster’s energy and discussions, specifically about how reading theories could be applied in the classroom.
KeAnna chose to major in elementary education because it gives her the option of teaching kindergarten through eighth grade. A true South Dakota girl, KeAnna says she is most looking forward to teaching South Dakota history in her fourth grade classroom.
“Those years are very important times in a child’s life,” says KeAnna. “I remember elementary being the most fun years of school and that’s when teachers really made a difference for me.”