District heads into 20th homecoming with emphasis on innovation, community engagement

By Garrett Ammesmaki,

Editor


Tea Area Improvement Team accepts the Little Red Schoolhouse Award in August. The award was given to them by the School Administrators of South Dakota for their innovative approach to education programs. Photo: Courtesy


This new school year marks the 20th homecoming for the Tea Area School District.


The milestone spurred the creation of a 20th anniversary celebration committee. Along with planning upcoming festivities, the committees responsibilities include sharing the past of the district, while thanking the individuals that have played key roles throughout its formation.


“One of the goals of the committee is to look at the stories of Tea Area and make sure we don’t forget the incredible work that was done by some amazing people and an amazing community as we grow,” said Tea Area Superintendent Jennifer Lowery.

To do that, they’ve begun recording a podcast that features interviews from employees through all levels of the district. They are also establishing a hall of fame.


The hall of fame will include the four categories of academics, athletics, arts and titan pride. Though the location of the hall of fame is still in the works, its reception and inauguration will be held at the homecoming football game.


Along with the past, Lowery said they’re keeping a keen eye on the future. The district hopes to to emphasize communication with the Tea community throughout the upcoming year, while maintaining their award-winning principles and mission “to educate and empower.”


TASD was awarded the Little Red Schoolhouse Award in August by the School Administrators of South Dakota. The SASD gives the award to school districts within the state that implement “the most significant, innovative and successful education program or project.”


It was awarded to the district for their use of continuous school improvement coaches and their implementation of Plan/Do/Study/Act cycles.


“PDSA isn’t just academic,” Lowery said. “It’s a lifestyle — people need to have a plan and a strategy, and then quickly adjust if that strategy isn’t working.”


Students set the tempo and expectations, while the coaches support “the implementation of promise/purpose statements.”

With innovation in education programs and a solid plan for continued growth, the administration is more than prepared for the 125 new Titans that enrolled in the district this year.


With those new Titans, enrollment numbers now sit just under 2,300 students. And, though the growth is substantial without any signs of slowing down, it isn’t catching anyone at the district by surprise.


“Our growth is so extreme, so consistent, that we’ve put it into our strategic plan,” Lowery said.


That plan includes, amongst other things, a focus on engaging Titans and the surrounding community.


The work in the district’s communications will be realized by Executive Administrative Assistant Audrey Arndt. Arndt has worked for the district for the past two years, and will emphasize communications with the community using various social media accounts and other online platforms that include a new Tea Area School District smartphone app.


“We’re looking to meet our families where they are at, and be purposeful about our communication,” Lowery said.