Then and Now: History Edition
Press & Dakotan

Then and Now: History Edition


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    PAGE 4C: THEN & NOW PRESS & DAKOTAN n MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 PHOTO: LINCOLN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL This archive photo shows a PTA open house held in the room of Lincoln School fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Fairbroth in the early 1950s. Those Who Can, Teach Teachers Change Methods To Cope With Changing, Challenging Times BY CHANCE MULLINIX T eachers have always had to adapt to a changing world. What was once a place for learning how to read, write and multiply, now hosts a bevy of other subjects students can learn. Arguably, the biggest change has occurred only recently, with the advent of technology in classrooms. Blackboards and projectors have been replaced by smartboards and laptops. Testing websites have joined pencil and paper in ways that schools can test students. Due to such legislation as No Child Left Behind and Common Core, more time is being spent on test preparation, leading to higher stress levels in classrooms. We ve really embraced Common Core and our students are taking off with it, but the testing on the other hand has increased the stress level of students and teachers both, Melanie Ryken, principal of Webster Elementary, who began teaching in 1995, told the Press and Dakotan. We are gearing our teaching towards (test preparation). It has made us more accountable, which is a positive thing, although, it is a little more stressful. We re practicing tests, to prepare for the spring tests that we do. So we re definitely more focused on tests than before. The amount of time students spend on homework has decreased. The busy lives of students outside of school have required teachers to reduce the workload students bring home. Back when I first started teaching, teachers were expected to send homework home every day, said Paula Weydert, a 4th grade teacher at Beadle, who began teaching in 1978. For third or fourth graders, that would be half an hour to an hour of homework. Nowadays, kids have a lot of activities, or their older brothers and sisters will have activities. It seems to me that kids just don t have as much time to do homework anymore, so we don t give as much. Weydert said that much of the homework they give out in class is finished before the Shots From Page 3C change immunizations forever, he said. The vaccine was theorized and then developed, he said. It was finally licensed in 1955. Every state and every community had vaccination clinics. Kightliner, who was born in 1952, remembered his own experience getting the vaccine. I grew up in Walworth County, the county nurse would come and they d inoculate sugar cubes, he said. We d all get a sugar cube and get our polio vaccine. Within the next decade, polio was controlled in the United States; South Dakota recorded its last case of polio in Minnehaha County in 1963. Worldwide vaccination has been extremely successful as well. According to Kightlinger, only eight cases have been reported in 2017 all of them occurring in Talibancontrolled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where healthcare workers have routinely been attacked. My hope is, this year, we ll finally be able to eradicate polio from the whole world, he said. It ll take a couple of years of very intensive surveillance to make sure no more cases are popping up. With the success of the polio vaccine came the development of other vaccines, such as the mea- day is over, either in class or in study hall. Many schools give ample class time for students to complete homework at school. Some still give take-home assignments that students must finish. But this can disadvantage students, whose parents weren t taught the same way when they were students. Back in the old days, we would teach only one way to do something, like long division, Weydert said. Students would do lots and lots of practice on that, before we would move on. Nowadays, we may teach five different methods of doing long division, and some of those ways are unfamiliar with parents because that s not how they were taught. That s not how I was taught. If assignments aren t completed, punishments are given. Most punishments come in the form of taking away recess or staying after school. But post-elementary school students don t have recess, and oftentimes don t finish homework. Amy Miner, a high school English and theatre teacher since 1991, told the Press and Dakotan that attitudes have changed when it comes to homework. I feel like there are a lot of kids that just don t do their work, Miner said. Either they don t see the value, or they don t have the time. That wasn t as prevalent 25 years ago. Punishments like detention and suspension are rarely given in elementary schools, but they are in middle and high schools. While many things that qualify a student for detention or suspensions are the same, it s become more complex for staff members. Twenty-five years ago, it was a pack of cigarettes, and if you brought it on campus, you got in trouble, Miner said. Nowadays, they have vape pens and e-cigarettes, and it makes it easier for kids to hide that they re carrying something like that. It s more complicated for staff and administration to keep an eye out for things. Unfortunately, another major change is the security demanded in schools. Lockdown drills have joined tornado and fire drills that students must practice throughout the school year. Visitors have to buzz in and talk through an intercom and there s a camera in the office so the secretary can see who she s letting in, said Roxann Hunhoff, a fifth grade teacher at sles vaccine in 1963. We used to have measles outbreaks every couple of years in South Dakota, he said. In fact, those of us that were born before 1957, we re just considered immune because it was absolutely ubiquitous we all got the measles back in the 1950s and early 60s. Now it s very rare. An outbreak that occurred near Mitchell in 2014 was the first case of measles observed in the state in 17 years. Another outbreak occurred at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1990. HIGH VACCINATION RATES Research into vaccines over the years has led to recommendations, and even requirements, for students to get certain immunizations before and during their school years. With the school entry law back in the 1970s, it was mandated that you have certain vaccines to be admitted to schools in this state, he said. Additionally, resources have been made available to help children in low-income families get vaccinated, such as the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program. There s no barriers to getting vaccines, and that s good for public health because we look at the vaccine in a couple of ways, he said. One being for the well-being of the individual who gets the vaccine it s prevention and they won t get KELLY HERTZ/P&D Lincoln Elementary School fourth-grader teacher Sheryl Rehurek works with one of her students on a Chromebook laptop computer in class. Technology is used increasingly in classroom education settings in order to help children excel and succeed in a computerized world. Beadle Elementary. Miner said changes began after the Columbine massacre in 1999. In the early days, we could come and go and trust, probably naively, that everyone was there to get an education and move along, she said. There have been enough instances that that reality has changed profoundly. I understand that it s a necessity, but I can t explain the way it feels, to sit in a dark room, with 25 kids completely quiet, and hope it s a drill. You know it s a drill, but there s always it s too real. It s too real anymore. Ryken said that schools are also becoming that disease. And then it s for the whole public. The more people you can get vaccinated, the less likely it is that you re going to have an outbreak of disease or the disease is going to transmitted from person to person. In Yankton County, Kightlinger said that all but 0.4 percent of kindergartners were vaccinated in 2016. That s just excellent, he said. That s a lot of different vaccines measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, pertussis. Statewide, South Dakota does well for youth vaccination for the most part, he said. For our young kids our kindergarten aged kids we re one of the top (states) in the country, he said. (But) our teenage vaccination rates are lagging. Exemptions are available for religious and medical reasons. Kightlinger said even beyond youth immunizations, South Dakota has a claim to fame when it comes to one of the most well-known vaccinations the annual flu shot. We are number one for flu shots in the whole country, he said. We ve been number one five out of the past six years. We just have great flu vaccination participation. He said 56.6 percent of South Dakotans were vaccinated last year, well above the 45.6 percent national rate. more family centered. We really take a vested interest in getting to know the families and we appreciate their input, she said. We really want to work as a team, because we want the same results. We want their kids to flourish, to be safe and happy when they re with us. We value those connections and relationships. There have been many changes in recent history. Hunhoff said one of the most important things hasn t changed. One thing that has never changed is that the success and well-being of the students has always been first and foremost, she said. THE ANTI-VAXXER MOVEMENT It s hard to discuss the current climate of immunizations without discussing the anti-vaccination movement in America. The movement largely gained traction in the 90s when English doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article in The Lancet linking the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to autism. The claims would later be found to have been falsified, the article was retracted and his medical license revoked. However, the damage had been done, with many parents opting to unnecessarily delay vaccines or skip them entirely. Kightlinger said the anti-vaccination movement hasn t had a major impact on South Dakota so far. With our kindergarten class this past year, we had 2 percent of our kindergarteners that had an exemption that weren t vaccinated, he said. (That s) a tiny slice because we had 98 percent who were. Of those exemptions, 21 were due to medical factors while 219 children were exempt citing religious reasons. Last year, there were 12,081 public and private kindergarten students in South Dakota. By contrast, the state only recorded two religious exemptions statewide in 2003 and 22 the following year. It s still not a problem, as such, because we have good herd immunity, Kightlinger said. Those children are protected because all the kids around them will not get measles and spread it to them. However, he said there are still some lingering worries about a growing number of unvaccinated children. We have kids with medical exemptions, or kids whose immunity doesn t take (vaccination), he said. We have kids with cancer, kids with leukemia that are in school and kids with other immunodeficiencies and they re very vulnerable. If we have a couple of kids in there that aren t vaccinated because their parents have some idea that (vaccination) is not the thing for their kids, (they could) transmit the germs and viruses to the kids who are really vulnerable. IMMUNIZATIONS ARE FOR LIFE While most people tend to associate vaccination with young people, Kightlinger said adults have a number of immunizations to keep track of as well. When you re an adult, you need to keep up your vaccination, he said. You should be getting a tetanus shot every 10 years, and your doctor should be keeping track of that. When you get to be 60, you should get the shingles shot, and when you turn 65, you can get the pneumonia vaccination. And each year, residents who are able to are still encouraged to get their flu shot. Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.
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