‘Diamonds’ sparkle at Todd County School District Staff Recognition Night

Todd County School District held its annual staff recognition dinner and awards ceremony last Thursday at the high school’s Ben Reifel Auditorium. Event organizers created an elegant atmosphere around the theme “You [school staff] are the diamonds in our children’s lives.”

The evening opened with a welcoming address by Dr. Richard Bordeaux, Todd County School District Superintendent, who also served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies. The Lakota Flag Song by Gabe Red Kettle and the invocation by Roger Allen also preceeded dinner. 

Below is a summary of the evening’s recognitions, with photos and bios graciously provided by TCSD Curriculum Center Public Relations and Dreamcatcher Editor Phyllis Littau. (Editor’s Note: The bios have been edited in the interest of brevity.)

Retiring in 2019

Laura Peterson (35 years),  has a talent for specific special needs programming best directed toward learners who need reliability, predictability and kindness - as all children do - and has worked with the earliest learners in elementary and pre-school settings.

Vicki Klein (34 years) has taught at Happy Valley, Klein, South, White River, Todd County and North Elementary schools. She has been a technology mentor and reading specialist, and spent the last five years teaching third grade at TCES.

Diane Linster (31 years) has taught various math classes at Todd County High School, including Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Independent Geometry and Integrated Math, and is hanging up her calculator after 31 years of teaching.

Sharon Hair (30 years) has been working with students in the Todd County School District just one year shy of three decades, serving preschool and elementary-age  children in St. Francis and Parmelee communities.

Lynne Longcor (27 years) has been at Rosebud Elementary as a paraprofessional for nearly 30 years. “Rosebud has always been a great place to work. The people are wonderful and always have a smile on their faces,” she said.

Brenda Borer (25 years) spent most of her time at North Elementary and most recently at TCES as a paraprofessional in the Exceptional Education Department.

Leslie Whipple (23 years), whose dedication to the students and her job, as well as her reliability, has always been evident and undeniable.

Dr. Richard Bordeaux (16 years +1) will be retiring from TCSD (again) at the end of this school year, having come on board to steer the ship  as Interim Superintendent until another captain could be found. “Bon Voyage, Doc. We wish you smooth sailing.”

In Memory

Tonya Whirlwind Soldier (April 9, 1970-December 8, 2018), Teacher, Coach, Friend. “Truly a diamond in our children’s lives.”

45 Years of Service

Alice Hansen, Payroll, District Office. Alice started as an aide at the High School then moved to the Business Office, where she currently serves at Supervisor/Payroll Clerk. She helped to write the handbook for support staff, helped to establish a Wellness Program, and served as an officer (including president) with the South Dakota Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Steve Heinert, Teacher, Middle School. Now in his 45th year of teaching, Steve has been a Paraprofessional, student teacher advisor, teacher, and coach. Instead of becoming an administrator, he says, “I want to be in the trenches with the students.”

35 Years of Service

Cindy Bachelor, Head Teacher, Littleburg School. For 35 years, Cindy has been a boo-boo kisser, hand-holder, silly song singer, story teller, shoelace double-knotter, jumprope twirler, word sounder-outer, tear dryer, and (of course) teacher to some 400 kindergartners. Her name has become synonymous with Littleburg Elementary over the past four decades.

Claudette Crow Eagle, Paraprofessional, Rosebud Elementary. As a paraprofessional at Rosebud Elementary, Claudette has worked with all grade levels and is currently with the kindergarten class. She enjoys working at Rosebud Elementary and plans to be there another 30 years!

Laura Petersen, Teacher, Elementary and Pre-School. See bio in retirement listing.

30 Years of Service

Sharon Hair, Teacher, St. Francis and Parmelee. See bio in retirement listing.

Gwenda Jackson, Secretary, Bus Shop. Gwenda’s first jobs at TCSD were as Suburban driver, substitute in the classroom, and cook. She worked as an Exceptional Ed teacher at Spring Creek, subbed at lunch halls, drove for basketball games, ran the clock and kept score, and made activity bus runs for Lakeview and the high school. She has been the secretary and dispatcher at the Bus Shop for 17 years.

Marlys Walkling, Principal, Rosebud and Lakeview. Marlys has shared her enthusiasm for teaching and learning with everyone for 30 years! She completed her National Board Certification in 2011 and Specialist in Education degree in 2013, allowing her to become principal of Rosebud Elementary and Lakeview School.

25 Years of Service

Brenda Borer, Paraprofessional, Exceptional Education Department. See bio in retirement listing.

Carol Galbraith, Exceptional Education Director, Resource Center. Carol started at TCSD in the Gifted and Talented Program and was given additional responsibility as Exceptional Ed Program Coordinator. After completing her Master’s Degree, she began her tenure as Director of Special Education, and will assume the mantel of TCSD Superintendent in July.

Melissa Larvie, Secretary, Todd County Elementary. Melissa has worked the last five years at TCES, most recently becoming one of the secretaries. She can always be counted on to make sure no student is hungry and that each student has what they need to be successful in school.

Marie Reagle, Secretary, Todd County Achievement. Marie has driven a Suburban and worked as a custodian and secretary at the Bus Shop. Since then, she served at the District Office, and is currently secretary at the TC Achievement School.

20 Years of Service

Everett Bordeaux, Paraprofessional, Rosebud. Everett spent his first couple of years in the Exceptional Education Department and the next seven as School Librarian. For the last 11 years, he has been a Paraprofessional in a variety of classrooms, including Mrs. Hammer’s where together they have created a strong intructional team.

Patrick Bordeaux, Security Guard, Rosebud. Pat wears many hats at Rosebud Elementary, starting as a Paraprofessional and now as the Security Guard. He also coaches basketball, serves as Athletic Director, and drives a bus.

Janet Colombe, Technical Assistant, Middle School. Originally at the High School Dining Hall, Janet currently works at TCMS, where students and staff alike think they have the best food in the district, because it is made with love by the Food Service Team.

Georgia Guerue, Teacher, He Dog School. “Dete” has been  with the Exceptional Education Department at He Dog School all her 20 years, where she is also a long-time coach for girls and boys basktetball, track and cross country. She is definitely a “Team Player!”

Sandra Hausmann, Teacher, TC Elementary. You can find Sandra in her constantly busy second grade classroom at TCES, or leading her collaborative team in planning lessons and activities to improve student learning. She also volunteers with Boy Scouts and her church.

Cindy Sokol Homan, Teacher, Spring Creek. During her years of service, Cindy has worn many hats at Spring Creek Elementary, including classroom teaching and technology/instructional coach, as well as Eighth Grade Advisor.

Patrick Johner, Teacher and Coach, High School. At TCHS his entire career, Patrick has taught World Geography, U.S. History, and Personal Finance throughout his tenure. He’s also an assistant coach for football and girl’s basketball.

Phyllis Littau, Public Relations, Curriculum Center. For 20 years, Phyllis has been the face behind the camera at school events and board meetings. Her tireless work allows families and the community see students and teachers at work, featured in the school newspaper, “The Dreamcatcher,” which she publishes each month, and in the yearly calendar.

Candice Reagle, Exceptional Ed Teacher, Resource Center. Candi has already had a long career in education, working with children in different capacities, including kindergarten, computers, and Exceptional Education. This year she joined the pre-school Exceptional Ed population.

Carrie Reinders, Counselor, Rosebud. A counselor at Rosebud and Lakeview schools, Carrie has also been a Cheerleading Coach, Peer Mediation Coordinator, and head of the Counseling Department.

Rhonda Stoecklin, Teacher, Middle School. Originally a Language Arts Teacher, Rhonda has been leading classes in a variety of performing arts for the past two years.

David Worsech, Paraprofessional, Middle School. Dave has spent the last five years working at TCES following 15 years at other locations in Todd County.

15 Years of Service

Bryan Burnette, Dean of Students, Curriculum Center. A proud graduate of TCHS, Bryan works tirelessly to make sure the date entered in Infinite Campus is correct, so that every student is counted and they have the best opportunities in life.

Bobbie Cox, Principal, Todd County Elementary. Starting as a teacher and now Principal of TCES, Bobbie has been an influential leader in the Todd County School District for 15 years.

Ira High Pipe, Paraprofessional, He Dog School. Bringing years of experience in his Native Lakota Languange and Culture, Ira worked for several years as He Dog’s Lakota Language Instructor before moving to the classroom.

Patricia Iron Shell, Paraprofessional, High School. Patricia started as a high school and middle school substitute teacher, then as attendance secretary, before finding her passion in the high school Exceptional Ed Program.

10 Years of Service

Carla Felton, Paraprofessional, Todd County Elementary. Carla is an Exceptional Ed paraprofessional at TCES currenly working on becoming a certified teacher.

Joseph Heinert, Manager, Supply Office. Even though still a young man, “Joe is an excellent boss and great guy to work with,” his employees say.

Stephanie Schuyler, Teacher, Resource Center. Steph works with infants, toddlers, pre-school, and Headstart children, and is the provider for some of the lower elementary students on IEPs.

Willie Thompson, Head Custodian and Bus Driver, Rosebud. As Head Custodian, Willie is one of the reasons Rosebud Elementary looks so good and is always in tip top condition.

5 Years of Service

Darci Arnold

Timothy Cournoyer

David Ecker

Mark Edwards

Rayni Gassman

Ki Kuhre

Josh Larson

Theodora Marshall

Melina Orengo

Colleen Pettigrew

Jordan Rahn

Mary Lu Rich

Barbara Sully

Gwen Wenig

Paula Wortham

Teachers of the Year

Carrie Kornely, TCES, whose dedication to her students and the teaching profession is clearly evident the second you walk into her warm and inviting classroom. Evidence of what the class is learning hangs on the walls in colorful displays of students’ work. A National Board Certified Teacher, Carrie attended elementary and high school in Todd County, and is a graduate of Sinte Gleska University.

Ray Taddeo, TCMS, is a rare find - a teacher who has battled and defeated his own school demons. Through his perseverence, he has succeeded where others have failed. He brings this indomitable spirit to his classroom and the school. Ray is also a football coach and advisor for the “Wildcat News’ school paper.

Mary Lu Rich, TCHS, makes classes interesting and challenging. She is a student favorite because she works hard to help them become better. They also know she really cares about them as students and individuals. One student said, “...she gives up hope that we will succeed in life.”


of the Year

Pat Eddie, TCES Paraprofessional, is a community member and a critical connection between school and other community members. She is the voice of reason and advocacy for students and the school, and celerated 25 years of service in 2018.

Bus Drivers

Jim Williams (32 years of service), Theresa Pretty Bird (29), Harry DuBray (26), Everett Felix (17), Lori Leese (15), Keith Olson (15), Pat Bordeaux (13), Harlan Walking Eagle (13), Donnie Farley (9), Sally Herman (8), Walt Hernandez (8), Vern Knox (7), Francis Young (7), Kenny Hespe (5), Tim Cournoyer, Jr. (4), Daniel Razo (3), Calvin Jones (3), Lacey Bettelyoun (3), Justin Klein (3), Randy Klein (2), Spencer Bear Heels (2), Rebecca Childers (2), Kelley Lafferty (2), Craig Scott (2), Josh Wilson (2), Mina Dillon (2), Fontaine Big Crow (1), Paul Mitchell (1), Torrie Guerue (1)


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