Breakout Sessions

Please note: breakout sessions, presenters and descriptions are subject to change.

Student Achievement

Classroom Improvement Toolkit with Coach Support

Presenter: Tea Area Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Nebelsick Lowery, Curriculum Director Elizabeth Herrboldt and Continuous School Improvement Coaches Ryan Decker, Kylie Coyle, Laura Berg, John Westhoff, Tracy Schmidt and Val Sheppard

This session will explore how Tea Area School District uses Continuous School Improvement (CSI) Coaches to support the hardwiring of PDSA cycles of improvement at both the building and classroom levels. Research supports the use of short cycles of improvement in testing change quickly to determine whether or not the change is effective. Tea Area’s coaching team has developed a strategic plan for implementation that supports leaders and staff through multiple stages of continued improvement.

D&D In My Classrom!?

Presenter: Harrisburg Director of Instruction & Federal Programs Dr. Michael Amolins and Harrisburg North Middle School ELA Teacher Kade Wells

This session will explore the vast learning possibilities for the game of Dungeons and Dragons as classroom instruction and provide feedback from teachers who have just learned how to play to exhibit a fresh perspective of what this game can do for children. State standards for ELA will be coordinated with the learning tasks of the game and a list of cross curricular activities made clear to prove beyond any doubt that a game such as D&D can be a powerful learning tool and is worth having in schools.

The South Dakota School Safety Center: ONE Year Later!

Presenter: South Dakota School Safety Center Program Director Brett Garland and School Safety Specialist Sara Kettwig

The South Dakota School Safety Center provides an update on the available resources designed to keep schools safe, including two new programs aimed at helping children in crisis, heal and thrive. Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches school staff to identify risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, select interventions, and provide help. Handle With Care is a program that promotes school-community partnerships to help children exposed to trauma.

Learn, Dream and Grow with South Dakota Public Broadcasting: Preschool through K-12 Education

Presenter: SDPB Director of Education Dr. Marcy Drew and Education Specialists Steven Rokusek and Kevin Nelson

In this session we will cover the educational resources parents and educators for learners from preschool to high school. We know that raising or educating a child can be one of life’s most challenging missions. SDPB’s Education Team is here to help make it a rewarding one. Education is in our DNA, and for over 100 years, we have been dedicated to helping all learn, dream, and to grow.

Leading STEM Education in Your Schools and District

Presenter: BHSU and SURF Science Education Specialist Dr. Ashley Armstrong

At SURF, we believe students benefit most when learning and growth is implemented through a multi-pronged approach. We provide professional development which allows teachers access to the research-proven tools that will improve their classroom. We engage students through interactive virtual and in-person field trips and presentations. We support teachers in their classrooms with curriculum units that align with SD Science Standards and engage students in the science and engineering that is taking place at the Sanford lab.

Behavioral Health Resources and Supports Available to Schools

Presenter: SD DSS Division of Behavioral Health Assistant Director Melanie Boetel

Come learn about the wide array of behavioral health resources available in South Dakota that support the wellbeing of students. Resources include the promotion of mental health awareness to reduce stigma, to training opportunities for students, educators and families which provide tools for responding to individuals in need, to social-emotional learning resources to provide students with the skills needed to be successful, to individualized referrals and treatment services to address the most intensive needs.

Governance & Policy

Continuous School Improvement: How Systems Work

Presenter: Tea Area Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Nebelsick Lowery, Curriculum Director Elizabeth Herrboldt, School Board President Kristen Daggett and School Board Member Tara Johanneson

This session will provide attendees with insight into tools and strategies that can be utilized when creating systems within an educational environment. An introduction to the 9 Principles of Excellence and hardwiring will serve as a foundation for leaders to connect specific behaviors and expectations to their own improvement work. Tea Area School District’s system provides staff members with the modeled support that is essential for long term fidelity and sustainability.

Anatomy of a School Board Hearing

Presenter: School Law Attorneys Gerry Kaufman, Rodney Freeman, Jr. and Sam Kerr

Dissect a School Board hearing along with three experienced school attorneys. The session will cover every component involved in School Board student and employee hearings: (1) request for and requirements for a hearing, (2) scheduling a hearing, (3) giving notice of the hearing, (4) designation of a hearing officer and role of hearing officer, (5) pre-hearing procedures, (6) evidentiary hearing, (7) Board deliberations and decision, (8) Board notice of decision, and (9) appeal of the Board decision.

Un-walling Universal Toilet & Locker Rooms

Presenter: JLG Architects Learning Strategy Specialist Jim Holbeck and Principal Architect David A. Leapaldt

Universal Toilet Rooms and Locker Rooms are emerging as a critical design conversation for schools looking to address safety, privacy, and the social-emotional concerns of all students. Jim Holbeck, JLG Architects’ Learning Strategy Specialist and former K12 educator, administrator, and superintendent, will present with JLG’s Dave Leapaldt to explain how Universal Toilet/Locker Rooms are making a big impact in controlling negative behavioral problems including bullying, gambling, fighting, predatory digital images, vaping, and graffiti.

Dealing with Controversy

Presenter: Wolsey-Wessington School Board Member Ted Haeder

Controversial issues eventually arise at all schools. Some issues are obviously controversial. Some controversies come about as a complete surprise. This session will include specific experiences dealing with controversial issues and best practices for addressing controversial topics.

Hearing and Being Heard: Legal and Practical Strategies of Managing Public Comment

Presenter: ASBSD Director of Policy & Legal Services Jessica Filler

In our current times, school boards and administrators are tasked with the responsibility of actively demonstrating that they are listening and considering comments and concerns from the public of many different and polarized views. This session will focus on strategies to accommodate and manage public participation in school board meetings and identify recommendations for superintendents and school boards. 

School Boards 101

Presenter: ASBSD Board Development & Member Services Director Jim Holbeck and ASBSD Board of Directors

Covering a wide variety of topics school boards face.


Presenter: SDHSAA Executive Director Dr. Dan Swartos

Providing an update on the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Finance & Legal

They Can’t Say That…Can They? The Intersection of Freedom of Speech and Personnel Issues

Presenter: KSB School Law Attorneys Karen Haase, Tyler Coverdale, Bobby Truhe, Sara Hento and Jordan Johnson

Whether it is rainbow flags on desks, Psalm calendars, or accusations of Critical Race Theory, First Amendment issues come in many shapes and sizes for school districts. This presentation will cover the extent to which schools can control various statements and actions by employees, and the factors that affect their authority to do so.

Title IX Two Years Later: A Panel Discussion on Sexual Harassment Regulations and What Changes to Expect

Presenter: School Law Attorneys Sam Kerr, Rodney Freeman, Jr., Gerry Kaufman, Tyler Coverdale and Jessica Filler

Many school districts have been laboring through the legal requirements associated with the August 2020 Title IX regulations as sexual harassments complaints have risen across the state. So, what have we learned these past two years? This panel discussion, with experienced school law attorneys from across the state, will share their experiences in dealing with these difficult issues and will also discuss the current administration’s recently published proposed changes to these regulatory requirements.

Know (And Follow) the Open Meeting Laws

Presenter: School Law Attorneys Gerry Kaufman, Rodney Freeman, Jr. and Sam Kerr

Veteran and new School Board Members, and veteran and new administrators, need to know the Open Meeting Laws. Having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the open meetings laws is critical in order to comply with these legal requirements. Join three experienced school attorneys as they discuss the laws and their requirements and give real life examples of what to do and what not to do.

Mental Health and School Attendance: Legal Obligations for Schools

Presenter: School Attorney Christian Shafer

This session will explore the legal obligations that arise when a student’s mental health impacts school attendance. The presenter will discuss practical ways to address school districts’ obligations under applicable law, how to engage reluctant learners and their parents, and more.

By the Book: School Discipline and Special Education Students

Presenter: School Attorney Christian Shafer

When addressing behavior for a special education student, it is important for building administrators and special educators to work collaboratively. Even more so than with other student discipline situations, it is important to do things by the book when imposing discipline against a student with special needs. From investigating alleged misconduct to manifestation determinations to enforcing discipline, this presentation will cover best practices and key insights for addressing student misconduct in the special education context.

Risk Management: Cybersecurity in Schools

Presenter: ASBSD CFO and ASBPT Director Holly Nagel and Associates

Discussing the importance of proper cybersecurity coverage in your school.

Risk Management Presentation

Presenter: ASBSD CFO and ASBPT Director Holly Nagel and Associates

Examining an array of risk management areas affecting schools.

Mental Health and Personnel

Presenter: ASBSD CFO and ASBPT Director Holly Nagel and Associates

Sharing information on and resources for school districts on mental health and their staffs.


Know Your Why

Presenter: Florence Superintendent Mitch Reed

Often times, we lose our way, our passion, our why. Rather than dwell on the problems that lie ahead, focus on why we started in the first place. In education, this concern is all too common. We have been posed with huge issues in the last three years and focus and mindset are crucial to prevail.

ThoughtExchange: Engage Stakeholders, Build Trust & Get Real Time Feedback

Presenter: Douglas Superintendent Kevin Case

During the 2021-22 school year, Douglas School District transitioned from traditional survey methods to utilizing ThoughtExchange as a tool to “crowdsource” information and engage the school community in conversations. ThoughExchange is a robust online tool that allows you to get unbiased insights from more people in less time.  You can solve complex problems efficiently, effectively, and confidently by giving all stakeholders the chance to voice their thoughts and solutions. TE utilizes Artificial intelligence and to theme conversations and provide real time feedback in minutes. Join us and participate in a live and engaging demonstration during this session.

Creating a Professional Learning Community by Focusing on Collective Efficacy and School Culture

Presenter: Harrisburg Freedom Elementary Principal Dr. Tanja Pederson, Harrisburg Director of Educational Services Dr. Tanya Rasmussen and Harrisburg Liberty Elementary Principal Aaron Weaver

In this session we will focus on building collective efficacy with staff by focusing on a strong school culture. Collective Efficacy is the foundation for creating an effective PLC in our schools. We will share ideas related to building collective efficacy, by implementing activities that are based on building a shared vision, building collaboration and establishing trust. We will share resources we utilized to build a common foundation for PLC’s in the district.

The Teachers You’ll Meet

Presenter: Watertown Middle School Principal Todd L. Brist

From Boomers and Gen Z to induction and career wind-down, our schools are full of a wide variety of educators. With an understanding of how generations in the workplace and the career cycle of teachers impact the perspective, attitude, and motivation of staff, school leaders can better differentiate and implement professional development, mentoring, and coaching for the adult learners in their schools. Come learn about the teacher’s you’ll meet so you can better lead them.

The SD School Safety Center & Safe2Say SD: Keeping South Dakota Schools Safe with the Preeminent Anonymous Tip Reporting Platform for Schools

Presenter: South Dakota School Safety Center Program Director Brett Garland

The South Dakota School Safety Center is proud to provide the premier prevention-based reporting system to South Dakota schools. Safe2Say South Dakota was designed to help schools and communities identify youth who are struggling in order to prevent violence and tragedies from occurring. A key component to Safe2Say South Dakota is educating and engaging students on what to watch for and what to report, while equipping them with the resources to confidentially report concerns.

Take Your Educators to the NEXT Level

Presenter: USD Graduate Enrollment Coordinator Wendy Thorson and Director of Graduate Admission Travis Vlasman

Superintendents and principals are retiring at record levels across the state, and you may have educators that know your school(s) well and can step into those administrative roles. This session will cover the various options for educators to move into an administrative role. Keeping these people in your district keeps their knowledge and provides continuity in your schools.

Baby Steps: How to Take a Vacation from Your Problems

Presenter: Sioux Falls Superintendent Dr. Jane Stavem

Using humor and clips from her favorite movie: What About Bob? Dr. Stavem will prepare you to handle whatever the upcoming year throws at you. Using intentional strategies, participants can take steps to reduce stress and anxiety that results when difficult situations cause both distraction and disruption. Take a break from your problems and enjoy some laughter with Dr. Stavem and Bob while building your resilience for the coming year.

Family Engagement Champions Panel

Presenter: Black Hills Special Services Coop. Family Engagement Specialists Celina Frear and Julie King

When schools engage parents and families, students do better at school. Come hear from a panel of diverse group of educators who are leaders of Family Engagement in their schools. Over the course of five months, panel members of school staff from across South Dakota convened to learn about the power of true school and family partnerships, reflected on current practices in their work environments, and experienced activities that facilitated school, family, and community engagement. Panel members will describe how they became Family Engagement Champions, while creating lasting and professional friendships with other cohort members.

Poverty Escape Room

Presenter: Black Hills Special Services Coop. Statewide Family Engagement Center Project Director Morgan VonHaden

We all know you can’t truly “escape” poverty, but could you survive a day in the life of someone in the crisis of poverty? Participants experience one day of the life of an individual who lives in poverty. Experience firsthand the barriers those living in poverty are asked to navigate each day and will then be asked to discuss the simulation experience with other participants. The hope is to bring awareness of how poverty impacts students we work with on a daily basis and to begin conversations around the support we, as educators, might need as we continue our journey in providing after school experiences.

Conquering CTE: Ideas for Overcoming the Challenges Unique to Career & Technical Education

Presenter: Sioux Falls Lincoln Applied Arts Teacher Christian Swenson

CTE is a whole different ballgame! The challenges related to providing career and technical education to students are unparalleled. However, these particular demands can be met by equally unique solutions. Come hear a plethora of ideas about overcoming the obstacles which frequently hinder CTE programming.

How Data Can Inform and Supercharge Your Reading Instruction Strategies in the Early Grades

Presenter: NWEA Early Reading Specialist Heather Cella and Senior Account Managers Shelley Ghannam and Laura Krebs

You may already be familiar with NWEA’s K-12 MAP Growth assessment, but did you know we offer a Pre-K through 5th grade early literacy assessment called MAP Reading Fluency that works in tandem with MAP Growth and includes a dyslexia screener? Learn how NWEA’s solutions help you take giant steps forward in closing opportunity gaps for ALL students by providing the full picture of data necessary for instruction of early and fluent readers, including foundational skills and oral reading fluency with progress monitoring.

Educate, Explore, Experience, Engage: The Four E’s to Transforming Community and School Relations

Presenter: Harrisburg Innovative Programs Director Travis Lape

In this session we will look at the power in the 4 E’s and how they can be used as a framework for schools to bring business and industry in as a partner in preparing our learners for the future. This framework is used in the elementary, middle, and high school levels. It takes a team to bring these to life, but they can provide some incredible experiences.

School Safety Roundtable

Presenter: Vermillion Superintendent Dr. Damon Alvey and South Dakota School Safety Center Program Director Brett Garland

With threats in schools looming, what can school personnel do to reduce threats and distinguish between real threats and frustrated speech? This session will focus on a discussion of threat assessment models and their use in South Dakota schools, along with examples of ways schools can engage their students and staff. A round table format of best practices will be shared, and audience members participation will be encouraged so participants walk away with ready to use tools to deal with potential threats.

Black Hills Online Learning Community: Offering Online Courses to South Dakota School Districts

Presenter: Black Hills Online Learning Community Program Coordinator Connie Godfrey

Looking for ways to expand your course offerings? Black Hills Online Learning Community (BHOLC) can help! As an approved provider through South Dakota Virtual School, we offer quality, standards-aligned courses in all content areas.