Teen Teachers program earns recognition

Courtesy photo: Debra DeBates, South Dakota Youth Foundation board member from Brookings, displays a Career and Technical Education award for the foundation’s Teen Teachers program.

BROOKINGS – High School Teen Teachers, working through the South Dakota Youth Foundation, completed their teaching of Character Counts! lessons to grade school students during last school year and earned scholarships for their post-secondary educations this fall. 

Using the Character Counts! curriculum, the lessons emphasize the importance of “character” and focus on six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. 

Locally, there have been Teen Teachers in both the Brookings and Sioux Valley schools as well as schools in 30 other communities across the state.

In recognition of this program, the South Dakota Youth Foundation received statewide recognition as the Friend of CTE (Career and Technical Education) Award. This award is given to provide recognition for the commitment and dedication this group has demonstrated to Career Technical Education. 

Deb DeBates of Brookings and S.D. Youth Foundation board member says, “Research has documented that younger students are much more receptive to receiving important lessons if they are taught by older youth. They listen more closely and, therefore, the education is much more effective. Teens speak the right language, and, as role models, teens provide younger students something to aspire to and help maintain their involvement.”

The South Dakota Youth Foundation is the only organization in which all programs are delivered to younger students through a Teen Teacher network. High school students are selected to become Teen Teachers and through a rigorous leadership and teaching orientation they learn about classroom management, age appropriate lessons and lesson planning. Once prepared, they go into elementary school classrooms and deliver the lessons. Because of the COVID-19 situation, this year’s lessons will be delivered through hybrid/virtual learning by the Teen Teachers.


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