Elementary Education

About Us

Quotation MarkTeammates is such an awesome program to be a part of! There is nothing more rewarding and exciting than to see the smile on your Teammate's face when you walk into their classroom.Quotation Mark Riley Haefele, junior Elementary Education major

Teammates at BHSU is a program designed to connect education majors with children in the local schools. These children are chosen by school counselors based on recommendations from teachers and parents. The criteria for child-selection may include children with only one parent at home, children who have difficulty making friends, children whose parents are going through a divorce, etc. For Elementary Education majors, children are selected from West Elementary School and East Elementary School in Spearfish, SD. Secondary Education majors volunteer at the local middle school or high school, with a focus on building relationships during academic tutoring. 

After completing the application process, BHSU Teammates are paired with their student and meet together for one hour a week. The schedule is determined by the student's teacher and the BHSU Teammate, working around both the student's schedule as well as that of the college mentor. During these weekly meetings, Teammates build a relationship through playing games and spending time together. Secondary Education majors also help their mentees with homework and other academic activities. For ideas on what you can do with your student, visit Teammate Tips.  

Goals of Teammates The original goal of Teammates was to provide to young students a positive college student role model. After conducting Participatory Action Research evaluation of the program, the new goals became: 

  • To provide extra academic, social and emotional support to targeted elementary school students.
  • To provide university students with theory-to-practice school experiences.
  • To provide theory-to-practice experiences for future teachers to develop caring skills.
  • To provide positive adult role modeling for K-12 students.
  • To provide future teachers with experiences that familiarize themselves with the school setting.

What are the benefits of being a Teammate? Mentors frequently ask: "Am I making a difference?" "What are the signs of progress that can be considered successful in a mentor/mentee relationship?"  For some, it may be ten years before a “former” mentee looks back, in retrospect, and says – “You know who made a difference in my life? My mentor…when I was in second grade.” Below are benefits which mentors cite: 


  • Increased self-efficacy as a teacher
  • Insights gained into children’s developmental growth stages
  • Recognition within the school system
  • Better theory-to-practice correlation


  • Feeling good about myself through service
  • I enjoy my role-model status
  • I see I do make a difference in a child’s life
  • I now have in-school contacts
  • I now have a current gauge of my legal and certification status for teaching
  • Other: many continue in the program

Children's Benefits:

  • Have a consistent long-term role model relationship
  • Better at making friends
  • Increased social skills (esp. trust)
  • Have non-judgmental adult presence in their lives
  • Increased status at school (“I have a Teammate!”)


  • Helps my child through crisis/transitions (i.e., military deployment, divorce, we just relocated)
  • Grateful to the college Teammate- who stresses the importance of doing well in school
  • “I just appreciate the extra help.”
  • “My child is motivated to go to school on the day he sees his Teammate.”

Are you interested in becoming a Teammate? 

Visit our Getting Started page to learn more about the steps involved in becoming a Teammate or contact Dominique Charlson at Dominique.Charlson@bhsu.edu or 605-641-3621 for more information.