One of the country’s top researchers on a rare, neurodegenerative disease, called Batten Disease is an SDIL staff member, Dr. Jill Weimer of the Sanford Research Center. Recently Dr. Weimer was a guest on The Doctors to discuss the disease that commonly begins in early childhood and is marked by seizures, personality changes, blindness, and loss of motor skills.

Learn more here and view the TV video here.


The Digital Desperado Featured In Rural Schools Collaborative

DeglategateThe Rural School Collaborative recently shared an interview with SDIL teacher Jeff Schneider. He talks about his long-term connection to teaching and how he came to join SDIL.

Jeff, aka The Digital Desperado, embraces technology in teaching and helps students use online and digital tools to solve problems. Jeff brings real-world problems to the classroom, problems that kids can to relate to. Here’s just one example that is cited in the interview.

Q: Can you give an example of the “hands on” approach to learning that utilizes technology?

A: For example, the Monday following the New England Patriots controversy (the infamous deflated ball accusation), the 9th grade Physical Science classes tested how ‘bouncy’ (or not) a deflated ball was. They downloaded a slow motion app for their phones to get a more accurate measure of the height of the bounce.

SDIL and PAST Foundation are proud of all our staff and teachers. Jeff is certainly a great example of the kind of dedication they all bring to classrooms and schools every day.

Read the interview here.

SDIL & PAST Featured at 2015 CGI America Conference

SDIL and our work in South Dakota with PAST Foundation, Mid Central Educational Cooperative, and Sanford Research, our partners, was featured at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America conference last month. CGI America highlighted our work, using this video to open the CGI Commitment Progress Report. In 2012 PAST committed to redefine rural and Native American STEM education by training 450 teachers to implement  an innovative and culturally relevant approach to learning.

At the 2014 CGI America conference PAST Foundation was recognized by President Bill Clinton for our work. At that time he said, “In 2012 the PAST Foundation and its partners committed to improve STEM education in rural and Native American reservation schools in South Dakota by equipping 450 teachers with the necessary training to implement an innovative, a culturally relevant approach to teaching. It’s now known as the South Dakota Innovation Lab, a statewide STEM professional development program that so far has provided 8,300 students with access to quality education that meets them where they are and prepares them for the modern economy.”

Today over 25,000 students have had the opportunity to expand their studies to include STEM education in transdisciplinary problem-based learning environments through the work of PAST and SDIL.

Receiving this recognition is amazing, but even better is the impact our work has on teachers and students. Along with our partners, we are transforming education in rural and urban areas, and every place in between!