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Driven to Teach

October 29, 2020

Amanda Hargreaves is driven to teach, inspired by classroom learning and faculty at her alma mater Dakota State. She is the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.
Amanda Hargreaves is driven to teach, inspired by classroom learning and faculty at her alma mater Dakota State. She is the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

“I don’t know a lot of jobs that give you the reward that teaching does,” said Amanda Hargreaves. “I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Hargreaves has been teaching since 2010, after she graduated from DSU with an elementary education degree. She is now the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

Throughout the school year, Hargreaves will be a representative for all South Dakota teachers, conducting seminars for future teachers, and giving presentations at a variety of events. She will also represent South Dakota in the national Teacher of the Year event in the spring of 2021.  Originally from Parkston, S.D., she is a sixth-grade teacher at Mitchell Middle School.

The message Hargreaves plans to share throughout the year is the importance of building relationships with students, establishing a classroom community.

“Students come to school to be loved, and if they’re loved, they are going to learn, and they will perform up to your expectations,” she said, “My message as South Dakota Teacher of the Year is to love them first, and the other things will fall into place.”

Building relationships is what she experienced as a student at DSU, with small class sizes and faculty who get to know you and what you’re passionate about. “I will be forever grateful for Dr. Mark Hawkes,” she said. “He was that professor for me who continued to drive my passion about teaching.”

Learning about technology was another benefit from her Dakota State education.

“I remember walking into Mike Waldner’s Computer Hardware class not knowing a single thing,” Hargreaves said. “I had to work hard to do well in that class,” she recalls, but that became a lesson in empathy. “After having been in those shoes myself, I know that my students may not catch on quickly with something new.”

Teachers can learn right along with their students, and Hargreaves had a lot to learn this year with the changes created by the pandemic. Teaching e-learners and in-person learners simultaneously, or through recorded lessons, means students can log in and not miss out when they’re away from the classroom for illness. She has discovered that there are advantages to this; an example is for students who are away at extracurricular events. “This use of technology has been such a blessing,” she said, and is something she would like to continue doing post-pandemic.

Despite challenges and changes in teaching, Hargreaves would recommend it as a career. “Teaching is the most rewarding profession in the world. Even on my most challenging days, I can’t wait to go back the next day.”

And she would recommend DSU for that degree. “I think that DSU is a fantastic place to continue your education.”

Cover photo courtesey of Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic.

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