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Three candidates vie for two school board seats

Election set for next Tuesday, June 20th

On June 20, Tea Area School District residents will go the polls to elect two people to serve on the Tea Area School Board.

Three candidates: incumbents, Kirsten Daggett and Tara Johanneson, and one challenger Jay Ryan, will be will be vying for two 3-year positions on the Tea Area School Board.

The School Board election is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, June 20 with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The polling places of this district are as follows:

Lincoln County Residents will vote at the District Education Center located at 131 N. Poplar Avenue, Tea SD 57064.

Minnehaha County Residents will vote at Frontier Elementary School located at 2700 W. Lancaster, Sioux Falls SD 57106.

The official ballot can be viewed on page 6.

Tea Weekly sent questionnaires to each of the candidates, what follows at right their responses:

Kristen Daggett

Q: What motivated you to run for school board, and what are your primary goals for the school district?

A: I have two sons that have attended Tea Area Schools since Kindergarten. Just like any parent, I want the best education and opportunities for my kids. Being on the school board, I get to make the decisions that directly impact those options for my children and every Tea Area Titan. Just as I want the best for my kids, I equally want the best for your kids, grandkids, and every student in our District. I am proud of our work in we have done in the career and technical education programs. I will work to expand on those opportunities for our students. I believe these classes allow our Titans to explore their talents and use them to become productive citizens.

I will continue to push the Tea Area School District to its highest potential. I will focus on our commitment to continuous school improvement. Through this work, we enable our schools to be innovative and push our students and staff to set and achieve higher goals.

We are a leading school in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We built amazing programs and have incredible community members that support them and create opportunities for our students. I will continue to offer and expand these opportunities.

I fully support our district administration and am immensely proud to be part of the team. In the last 9 years, I have built partnerships with staff, teachers, and administration and together we continue to work hard to do what is best for our students and our community. I genuinely believe this is my call to service and would appreciate your support to allow me to continue this journey. As a board we shall review the district’s goals and objectives to ensure they stay relevant and current.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: I have served on the school board for the past 9 years and as your school board president for of those 4 years. I have served on numerous committees, such as Teacher of the Year, Policy Review and Implementation, Teacher Negotiations, Capacity Planning, TASK, Equalization and Continuous School Improvement.

I have seen some amazing things transpire in our district over my three terms. Our student population has increased by over 750. We have built 2 new elementary schools, added an addition to Legacy and eliminated the stick buildings. This spring we broke ground on the addition to our high school that will position us for the future. I have welcomed many new staff members and saw fantastic ones retire. These experiences are priceless. By voting for me and allowing me to serve a fourth term, you are getting 9 years of knowledge and allowing me to continue to work with an already amazing school board.

I have my bachelor’s degree in business administration. I started my education career at Southeast Technical Institute and completed my degree with a partnering school. I learned the value and diversity that our technical institutions offer as well as embraced the importance of the traditional four-year college. I have worked as a manager and compliance consultant for Wells Fargo for over 23 years. I help implement policies and drive change daily. These are primary functions for a school board.

Q: How do you plan to engage with parents, teachers, and students to understand their concerns and priorities for the district?

A: I listen. I share my email address and phone number on the district website, to allow anyone to reach out. If you have an idea, concern, or a question, I am available. When I am at school activities, I solicit feedback to improve our schools and community. Through the work for continuous school improvement, the school board has implemented surveys that go out to our staff, community, students, and parents. I value that feedback and use it to make decisions. I will continue to support those surveys and utilize the results.

Q: Who does your family include?

A: My husband Lee and I have been Tea residents for 25 years. We have two sons, Ben (proud class of 2023 graduate) and Jack (Junior). We also have nieces and a nephew that are Tea Area Titans. Three have graduated and I am so proud of their accomplishments and know they were prepared for their next chapter because of the foundations that our school district provided.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: I enjoy volunteering in the community. By volunteering my talents, I have made lifelong friends through Trinity Lutheran Church, tLink, TAPTO and the Tea Veterans Memorial. My family and I enjoy ATV riding and spending time with family and friends.

Tara Johanneson

Q: What motivated you to run for school board, and what are your primary goals for the school district?

A: Initially I became interested in serving on the school board in 2016 when I started writing for the Tea Weekly and covering the Tea Area School Board meetings. At the time, I saw a need to have someone on the board who had “boots on the ground” classroom and educational experience. I am so proud to have been a part of the Tea Area School District School Board for the past six years and all that we have accomplished. We have managed our growth, improved and expanded our infrastructure, enhanced and grown our CTE and academic programs, excelled in the arts and athletics, and worked hard to continually be fiscally responsible and keep our tax rates as low as possible while still achieving our goals. All that said, it is important to be constantly reflective and not become complacent; therefore, I will move forward into the next term with two primary goals that guide all of my decisions: (1) focus on providing safe-learning environments and exceptional curricular and educational experiences to our students in order to prepare them for post K-12 life and (2) to continue to foster our district’s positive reputation as a quality employer who cares and respects are staff so that we can continue recruiting the highest caliber professional educators to join our ranks and provide superior education to our children.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: My two professional passions are education and technology. I believe that these skillsets are a valuable asset to the Tea Area School Board.

I hold a Master’s Degree in Technology for Education in Training from the University of Sioux Falls, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education, an Associate degree in Business Management, and a minor in Business Administration for Dakota State University.

I am currently the Director of Online Education for the University of Sioux Falls. I also spent 14 years as a 7-12 Computer Science educator (teaching basic to Advanced Placement courses) and the K-12 technology integrationist in the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools.

As a school board representative, I have served on the Tea Area Library Board, the negotiations committee, Career & Technical Education advisory committee, legislative committee, and the Continuous School Improvement committee.

Q: How do you plan to engage with parents, teachers, and students to understand their concerns and priorities for the district?

A: Input from all of our stakeholders is a key element of our district’s improvement. During the 2019-2020 school year, we began implementation of Continuous School Improvement. Adding stakeholder surveys (staff, parent, and student) was an essential component of our plans. I am a firm believer of leadership from within and since the members of the school board are not involved in the day-to-day activities within our schools, we value the feedback that is received in the surveys to help guide us in making policies, setting our goals, and planning for the future of the district. In addition, when there are topics of concern that I know are issues coming before the board to make decisions on, I often reach out to teachers, parents, and students on my own to ask for their input, opinions, and ideas. I really appreciate when members of the community attend board meetings and speak during our public forum time, as it is great for the whole board to hear the same message, be able to openly discuss issues, and have the opportunity to use the input provided to make real time decisions of impact.

Q: Who does your family include?

A: My husband, Jason, is the co-owner of R&R Mobility in Sioux Falls. His business focuses on providing mobility services for the disabled and specializes in adapting vehicles and homes with equipment that gives individuals freedom and allows them to live productive, quality lives.

Taylor will be a Senior at Tea Area High School. She is involved in Tea Trinity youth group and church council, Girl Scouts, Student Council, Educator’s Rising, SALSA, NHS, choir, bowling, board game club, and golf. Jaxon will be a freshman grade at Tea Area High School. He is involved in Student Council, cross-country, and basketball. Jadon will be in 8th grade at Tea Area Middle School. He is involved with golf, basketball, and track.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: In my free time, I love to bake, read, travel, research new educational technology software, watch crime dramas, play board games, and spend time with my friends and family.

Jay Ryan

Q: What motivated you to run for school board, and what are your primary goals for the school district?

A: I have always had an interest in serving on the Tea Area School Board. I want to be involved with providing quality education, addressing challenging growth issues, and collaborating with others to determine the best solutions for our Titans. With the continued growth of our community, there will be many more challenges and decisions in the future. As a parent of two Legacy Elementary children, I would be honored to serve on the school board to be a part of shaping our district’s future, and guiding our children’s academics, athletics, and Titan values. If elected, my goals would be to quickly acclimate myself with current school board projectspolicies, budgets and current challenges.

Q: What are your educational experiences and qualifications?

A: I have a Business Administration degree from Dakota State University, with a minor in Marketing. I currently work as a Senior Manager in Supply Chain for Valero Renewable Fuels where I negotiate contracts, manage a team of buyers that procures materials & services and provide sourcing support for thirteen ethanol plants located in the Midwest. I have worked for the company for 17 years. With the rapid growth of the Tea School District, I believe these qualifications would work well with the upcoming expansions and the building of a new school, as well as any future growth the school district will see.

Q: How do you plan to engage with parents, teachers, and students to understand their concerns and priorities for the district?

A: When issues or concerns arise from parents, teachers, or students, I will listen intently to understand their perspective and bring those concerns back to the school board committee for discussion of options. I will welcome any feedback & questions.

Q: Who does your family include?

A: My family has lived in Tea for 10 years. I am married to my wife Jesica and have four children. My two youngest are in second and fifth grades at Legacy Elementary.

Q: What are your hobbies or interests?

A: I am very active outdoors with my family. I do enjoy hunting, fishing, golfing and coaching my children in the Tea Park & Rec programs. My family is very active in sports.


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