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Experience matters when representing Sioux Falls schools
Guest column by Dawn Marie Johnson, Sioux Falls Board of Education candidate
I am a highly active leader in the Sioux Falls community. Since 2021, I have served on the Bridging the Gap Community Foundation, Sioux Falls School District Indian Education Parent Committee, and graduated from the Leaders of Tomorrow leadership training. In 2022, I was appointed to the Commission on Human Relations. I was selected to champion the National Partnership for Student Success through the Department of Education and was featured as a keynote speaker at several community engagement events and conferences. In 2020-2022, I served as the Career Technical Education and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District in the Joe Foss Program at Axtell Park. Currently, I am the Director of Leadership and Culture for the South Dakota Afterschool Network, serving children, families and programs statewide to ensure South Dakota is growing healthy communities. I have a Master's in Social Work from the University of South Dakota and received the Legacy Alumni Achievement Award for Emerging Leader in 2022.
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Part of my mission is to connect the community to Native American roots and history. In 2020, I was awarded the Dreamstarter Grant through Running Strong for American Indian Youth. I was able to offer traditional art practices to my students and connect Native leaders to youth through this. Students, Native and non-Native, were able to participate in the creation of beadwork which became a regularly-attended workshop in the Axtell Park building in the fall of 2021. Joe Foss students who participated in the making of ribbon skirts were able to wear their creations at their graduation in the 2022 Native Honoring Ceremony.
I chose to run for Sioux Falls School Board because our best investment is in our children, and I want to continue contributing to the great work already being done. Much of my work over the last decade has supported youth to boost their positive self-identity and improve their mental health, ultimately leading to academic and personal success. My passions lie in providing students with exposure to different college and career opportunities, ensuring all families have access to quality afterschool care, educating and encouraging people on the importance of mentoring youth and expanding alternative-learning options for students.
Providing a background as an educator, social worker, afterschool professional and mother to a child in the Sioux Falls School District makes me uniquely positioned to provide a meaningful voice to support all students and educators in a capacity that extends both in and outside the classroom. My greatest strength is my ability to unite the community as a collaborator and bridge-walk diverse conversations to nurture future generations. By working together, we can help all young people have access to the education they need to succeed.