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Majors & Degrees

Generations unite

January 5, 2024

Stephanie Veltkamp’s grandmother, Arlene Johnson Hoek, graduated from high school in 1953 and went on to earn her teaching certificate from DSU, when it was known as General Beadle State Teachers College. Now, Veltkamp is earning her teaching degree from Dakota State through the Teacher Apprenticeship Pathway (TAP) program.

Prior to being accepted into the TAP program, Veltkamp wasn’t aware that her grandma was a DSU College of Education alumna.

“I knew she was a teacher, but I didn’t know where she went to school,” she said. “My kids think it’s fun that I am going to the same school as great grandma. I pray she will see me finish this program.”

Even with her grandma’s example, being an educator wasn’t always her dream. “Growing up, I never answered the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ with ‘I want to be a teacher!’”

Her original college background was in Health Promotion and Wellness. As a wife and mom to two children, Veltkamp was able to spend her children’s early years staying at home and working part-time for Sanford Health.

For the past six years, she has been working as an education assistant (paraeducator) at Sioux Falls Christian for its Special Education program while continuing to work part-time as a patient access representative at Sanford Health.

“I work on classroom inclusion, modified learning, and behavior modification with the direction of our amazing staff,” she said.

Her colleagues at Sioux Falls Christian and their giving nature have inspired her growing interest in education. This led her to reach out to Sioux Falls Christian’s head of accreditation about taking some online courses. He suggested the TAP program and put her in touch with Dr. David De Jong, Dean of the College of Education at DSU.

Veltkamp was accepted into the TAP program in June. She was initially scared of what came next, but so far, her experience in the program has been positive, and she’s found the staff to be supportive.

“I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in this program other than a degree in something I feel called to do,” she said. “But after one semester, I have really enjoyed learning the why behind what we do. I love being stretched and challenged in thinking through the schoolwork.”

“After taking in and sorting out all the feelings, I gradually let people know,” she said. “As I shared my acceptance and watched others get excited for me, I got excited too.”

“Since I currently work with learners that require classroom inclusion, I have really learned a lot of the why behind what we do in SPED,” she said. “I have been able to write sample lesson plans and measure data collected.”

Veltkamp is taking 17-18 credits per semester and hopes to graduate after student teaching in the spring of 2025. Upon graduation, Veltkamp hopes to teach second, third, fourth grade, or special education at Sioux Falls Christian.

“I will forever be grateful for this opportunity,” she said.

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