‘Your kids need sleep’: retired SFSD teacher reflects on over 40 years of teaching
SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – With over 40 years of teaching experience at five different schools in Sioux Falls, Dar Steenholdt has a great recipe for student success.
Thursday was Steenholdt’s last day with the Sioux Falls School District. She officially retired after 44 years of teaching, including stays at Summit Oaks, Whittier Middle School, the old Washington High School, the new Washington High School, and her last 11 years at the Career and Technical Education Academy.
In an interview with KELOLAND News, Steenholdt reflected on his time with SFSD and stressed the importance for parents to stay involved in education and for students to find ways to connect with schools.
She had a direct message for all parents.
“Your children need sleep. We all need sleep, ”Steenholdt said. “They can’t stay awake all night, chatting, texting, and playing video games.”
At CTE Academy, Steenholdt served as a Human Services Instructor – helping students find a career path. She has helped teach interview skills, professional shadows, and area of interest assessments.
One of her favorite teaching memories was a one-time survival class at the old WHS. She has taught life skills – visiting apartments, working on finances, planning meals, and shopping.
“The boys took a special interest and it was rewarding,” Steenholdt said. “Now one of those alumni is my own doctor, so that’s been fun.”
She helped teach child development at the new WHS and served as a senior class counselor where she helped organize 13 proms and homecoming.
The biggest change in her 40+ years has been the number of women who now hold leadership positions in the school district.
“Before, there were men in administration and female teachers,” Steenholdt said. “Now we have divided it more evenly.”
The 2020-2021 school year was a new challenge for teachers and students, but Steenholdt agreed to return to the classroom after the in-person learning abruptly ended in 2020.
“I was delighted to come back. March, April and May were not my cup of tea, ”Steenholdt said. “We’re a hands-on school and activities with the class, you just can’t do that with Zoom.”
She said the students were happy to be back in class. She noted that the room was spaced out and that everyone was wearing masks. She never got sick and while some students lacked the time to be in close contact, she felt that few students actually had the virus.
Importance of teachers
Steenholdt said she had a former student who is now a teacher at George McGovern. For new teachers, Steenholdt suggested finding mentors right away.
“The colleagues are huge. Colleagues and administration make your day, ”Steenholdt said. “It is the community that the school makes.”
She stressed that teachers need to understand their role in helping young people.
“They shouldn’t be friends with students. They should be friendly, but the kids have a friend, they have a mother, they need a teacher, ”Steenholdt said. “They need a strong person to follow the line and be a role model teacher.”
Retired Steenholdt joked that she will miss her alarm clock that goes off twice a day. She plans to learn to fly a drone on her own, play Frisbee golf, and attend a few NASCAR races. She will spend a lot of time with her family and her retired husband.