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

The 2021 Dr. John W. Harris Teacher of the Year event was held on Monday, March 8th.

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. Due to COVID, the program will look different this year as we plan for the finalists and their guests attending in person at the Axtell Park Building. The event will be Livestream for all nominees and community members to attend virtually and enjoy from the comfort of home. Please join us as we recognize each nominee and finalist, and ultimately crown the Teacher of the Year!

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

2021 Nominees

Germàn ArenasSonia Sotomayor Elementary5th Grade
Kristina BeckerRobert Frost Elementary3rd Grade
* Tyler BeischEdison MSScience
Virginia BerganEdison MSPhysical Education
Andrea BleilRobert Frost Challenge Center4th Grade
* Jennifer BogueHawthorne ElementaryKindergarten
Christine BossmanPatrick Henry MSArt
Jennifer BoyleHarvey Dunn Elementary1st Grade
Millie BrowerRobert Frost Challenge Center4th Grade
Jennifer CastelloFinalistSonia Sotomayor ElementaryFinalist3rd GradeFinalist
Mario ChiarelloLincoln HSOrchestra, AP Music Theory
Robyn CostelloJohn Harris ElementaryKindergarten
Lois CristDiscovery Elementary3rd Grade
Eva DelgadoEdison MSSpanish Social Studies
Amy DrekeR.F. Pettigrew ElementaryKindergarten
* Amie EdwardsHawthorne ElementaryEarly Childhood
Erica EnglishSusan B Anthony ElementaryKindergarten
* Bobbi GreenfieldSonia Sotomayor Elementary3rd Grade
Eliana GutierrezSonia Sotomayor Elementary1st Grade
Kayci HalbersmaR.F. Pettigrew ElementaryKindergarten
Roxanne HarteLincoln HSAP/Modern US History
Caitlin HaugDiscovery ElementaryKindergarten
George HawkinsNew Tech HSHistory
Terry HelgetGeorge McGovernScience
Dawn HellbuschRoosevelt HSGerman
Alyssa HibbingRosa Parks Elementary5th Grade
Nicole HighbyR.F. Pettigrew Elementary1st Grade
Jamie HillEugene Field A+ Elementary1st Grade
Shannon HohwielerJohn Harris ElementaryKindergarten
Sandi HurstMemorial MSSocial Studies
James JarovskiLincoln HSChemistry/AP Chemistry
* Lindsey JohnsonOscar Howe ElementarySpecial Education
Megan KittisopikulGeorge McGovernLanguage Arts
Jessica KniggeRobert Frost ElementaryKindergarten
Kristi KoltzDiscovery Elementary4th Grade
Sheena KuipersRobert Frost ElementaryPreschool
Michael LongPatrick Henry MSMath
Stephanie LyngstadFinalistJohn Harris ElementaryFinalist1st GradeFinalist
Maria Martin-SepulvedaEdison MSSpanish Language Arts
Megan McManusR.F. Pettigrew Elementary3rd Grade
Victor NaranjoSonia Sotomayor ElementaryKindergarten
Michelle NelsonFinalistR.F. Pettigrew ElementaryFinalist3rd GradeFinalist
Barbara NewittRoosevelt HSPhysics
Bradley NewittLincoln HSPhysics
Florencia Nievas-HawkSonia Sotomayor Elementary2nd Grade
Diedra NissenRoosevelt HSGeometry
Lorena PantojaSonia Sotomayor Elementary4th Grade
Chad PesickaEdison MSSocial Studies
* Jessica PetersonJohn Harris Elementary5th Grade
Margaret PottratzWhittier MSSheltered Social Studies
Michael PowersRoosevelt HSEnglish, Yearbook & Sports Broadcasting
Laura PreheimEugene Field A+ ElementaryKindergarten
Teresa PurtellHarvey Dunn Elementary1st Grade
LeeAnna RabineHawthorne Elementary1st Grade
Rebecca RobertsJohn Harris Elementary5th Grade
* Ann RobertsonWhittier MSNative American Connections
Tricia RunyanR.F. Pettigrew Elementary2nd Grade
Andrea SiebenbornWhittier MSScience
Adam SmithWashington HSPhysics & AP Physics
Amber SmithJFKKindergarten/Junior Kindergarten
Susan ThiesGarfield Elementary5th Grade
Jillian ThomasWashington HSEnglish Language Arts
Laura TjadenEugene Field A+ ElementaryMusic & Drama
Lali TriaduSonia Sotomayor Elementary4th Grade
* Rachel TurnerRoosevelt HSAccelerated Chemistry & Sheltered Chemistry
Jaime WestraPatrick Henry MSRISE
Sara WiebelhausOscar Howe ElementaryKindergarten

*Highlighted names are Finalists

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.