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MSU College of Education partners with South Dakota tribal school

Trey Martin South Dakota PictureMorehead State University’s Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education developed an unexpected partnership with a tribal school in Waubay, South Dakota, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship for students in both institutions.  

The Enemy Swim Day School, a P-8 school, is a tribal Dakota school where faculty and staff integrate Dakota language and culture into the curriculum and the school environment. The school mistakenly sent a flyer to MSU (instead of Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota) looking to partner with colleges to send student-teachers to the school.  

“It was the spring of 2021, and many schools were closed to student observers. As a tribal school, I thought that this school might offer a unique opportunity for our students to engage with diverse students in a virtual environment,” said Dr. Kimberly Nettleton, director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation (QUAA) for the Volgenau College of Education and associate professor of education. “The more I spoke to the principal and superintendent, the more I realized what a unique opportunity this could be for both our candidates and the students in South Dakota.”  

Three students completed some or all of their spring student-teaching semester during the spring 2022 semester.   

Lola MeyersKatie Fraley (Class of 2022) and Lola Meyers (Class of 2022) went to The Enemy Swim Day School for student-teaching placement for their last eight weeks of the semester. Fraley is from Sandy Hook and Meyers is from Pikeville. Both graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Learning Behavior Disorders and Elementary Education.  

In January, Trey Martin (Class of 2022) arrived at the school and spent his entire spring semester there. Martin is from Mt. Sterling and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Education, Grades 8-12. He said the hands-on experience has been invaluable. He plans to sign a contract to teach at Tiospa Zina High School in Sisseton, South Dakota, in the 2022-23 academic year.   

“I had more experiences here in the first week than most people have with several years of teaching,” he said.  

The Enemy Swim Day School provided Volgenau College of Education faculty members with information concerning opportunities to partner with the school. Dr. Gera Nelson, associate professor of education, hopes to have her students work with Enemy Swim’s English Language Arts (ELA) students in the fall. The theatre education instructor, Octavia Biggs-Fleck, director of The Little Company touring theatre company, worked with Enemy Swim students when they came to MSU during their eighth-grade trip. It was a partnership neither school expected but has led to unexpected opportunities.  

“It’s surprising that a flyer sent to Morehead State University in Kentucky instead of to Moorhead in Minnesota could have such far-reaching consequences,” Nettleton said.  

To learn more about MSU’s Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau College of Education and its programs, call 606-783-2162 or visit www.moreheadstate.edu/education.  


Photos: MSU Volgenau College of Education alumni Trey Martin (Class of 2022, upper right) and Lola Meyers (Class of 2022, lower left pictured with students) completed student-teaching at Enemy Swim Day School, a tribal Dakota school in South Dakota.