33rd Annual Teacher of the Year 2021

The Story of Dr. John Harris

Dr. John Harris served as superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District from 1968-1992. Dr. Harris led the school system with compassion and integrity, touching the lives of thousands of students, teachers, and employees, and guiding the system to be one of the finest in the country. He is remembered for his gentleness, humility, graciousness, professionalism, intelligence, and sincere interest in people. He lived his philosophy that human contacts are the key element to education.

At a ceremony on August 30, 2007, a memorial plaque, purchased by the John Harris P.T.A., was dedicated. The plaque is mounted in the front hallway of the school to remind us all of the special men for whom the school is named. The plaque reads:

“Human contacts are the key element to education.
What we are really trying to do is open doors and expand horizons.
The horizons are different and the doors lead to different opportunities,
but what we are about has not changed.”
-Dr. John Harris

Nominations are now open for the 33rd Annual Dr. John W. Harris Teacher of the Year Award!

The Sioux Falls School District is proud of our staff and teachers for your commitment to our children and encompassing the same values and passions as Dr. Harris! Each year the Sioux Falls Public Schools and Vern Eide Motorcars jointly sponsor this prestigious award, so please lift up and nominate a deserving teacher!

Nominations are due by 5:00 pm Monday, January 25th, 2021. A judging panel will choose the finalists and all nominees will be celebrated along with the announcement of the Teacher of the Year on Monday, March 8th, 2021!
More details to come.

Outstanding, full-time teachers in ANY accredited Sioux Falls school are eligible for the award and $4,000 in prize money donated by Vern Eide Motorcars! Classroom teachers that have at least three (3) full years of teaching experience, a class of his/her own and teaches students at least three (3) or more hours per day, five (5) days a week, for six (6) or more calendar months during a school year are eligible.

Criteria for Selection include:

  • Differentiates instruction based on meeting student needs
  • Designs engaging lessons to improve classroom and/or school culture
  • Inspires students to recognize their potential impact and role in the larger community

Additional Things to Consider:

  • The desire for professional growth
  • Community involvement
  • Dedication to the teaching profession
  • Rapport with students, parents, and staff

Only three (3) letters of support will be attached to any one (1) nomination for an individual. Questions please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Classroom teachers may be nominated by a colleague, parent, administrator, student, or community member by filling out the nomination form.

If a nominator asks you to help support their nomination for an individual, please submit a Letter of Support

Past Winners

Janelle RevierCTE Academy2020
Lynn ThomasonLincoln High School2019
Kimberly DobsonHorace Mann Elementary2018
Stefanie HageJohn Harris Elementary2017
Janet SwierWashington High School2016
Gretchen JohnsonCleveland Elementary2015
Sarah HenrichsAxtell Park Middle School2014
Allison HutchinsonCareer & Technical Education Academy2013
Donna LeiningerWashington High School2012
Nicole GardnerFinalistHarvey Dunn ElementaryFinalist2011Finalist
Teresa TimmermanLincoln High School2010
Cher MayTerry Redlin Elementary2009
Barbara MyersAxtell Park Middle School2008
Sharon AndrewsChallenge Center2007
Karyn VeenisPatrick Henry Middle School2006
Barbara DowlingHawthorne Elementary2005
Brent EliasonWashington High School2004
Roxie AhlbrechtRobert Frost Elementary2003
Sally RiceEdison Middle School2002
Jeff LukensRoosevelt High School2001
Linda CarmodyEugene Field Elementary2000
Audrey LofgrenRobert Frost Elementary1999
Bob DolanWashington High School1998
Alice SylliaasenEugene Field Elementary1997
Don ReiffenbergerCleveland Elementary1996
Don DeckerLincoln High School1995
Judy DavisPatrick Henry Middle School1994
Phyllis KrugerHarvey Dunn Elementary1993
Julie AshworthHawthorne Elementary1992
Lois SudbeckLittle Flower Elementary1991
Sharon SchuelerRoosevelt High School1990
Joan ConnerLincoln High School1989

To be considered for Regional and State Teacher of the Year, the District Candidate should:

  • Have a superior ability to inspire students of ALL backgrounds and abilities to learn;
  • Be an exceptionally skilled and dedicated classroom teacher;
  • Have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues;
  • Play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school; and
  • Be poised, articulate, and have the energy to withstand the demanding schedule that would accompany selection as the South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

District Teacher of the Year becomes a nominee for his or her district’s Regional Teacher of the Year Award. If the District TOY is selected as the Regional TOY, he or she becomes a nominee for the South Dakota TOY. If chosen as the South Dakota TOY, he/she then becomes a candidate for the National TOY.