It's no secret that some of the best and brightest teachers are coming from South Dakota these days. Being married to an educator myself, I get the opportunity almost every day to hear about all the talented people who are helping to inspire, educate, and mold the minds of our youth.

This week another phenomenal South Dakota educator has received the esteemed honor of being named the 2018 South Dakota Teacher of the Year. Her name is Rachel Schaefer. Rachel is a kindergarten teacher at Elkton Elementary School.

Schaefer has been teaching in the Elkton School District since 2015. In the past, Rachel has also worked at the Boys & Girls Club of Brookings, where she served as an administrator and taught preschool, along with junior kindergarten. Early on in her career, a research project Rachael collaborated on as part of her master’s thesis was also adapted into an article for Young Children magazine.

According to Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp, Schaefer received this honor not only for her great work in the classroom but, also because she is a strong advocate for the teaching profession as a whole.

A panel of South Dakota educators selected Schaefer from six regional finalists.

Being named, South Dakota Teacher of the Year definitely has its perks. Prizes include a $5,000 cash award from the West River Foundation and a $1,000 honorarium from the South Dakota Board of Regents to present a series of professional development seminars to aspiring teachers. The various prize packages are made available through the generosity of private businesses and organizations statewide.

What's next for Rachael? She gets the opportunity to represent South Dakota as a candidate for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year award.

The new National Teacher of the Year will be chosen during a ceremony next spring in Washington, D.C.

Good luck Rachael! Thanks for doing South Dakota proud!

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