Rebecca Darland Denke, who is a Special Education Aide at the Blunt Elementary, says that she has found everything about the position surprising.
In her position, Darland Denke works one on one with a student, a departure from her previous experience. “This is my first time working with a student one on one,” said Darland Denke. “It’s a huge change, and I’m learning things I’ve never known before. It’s very different as a Special Education Aide working with an individual and focusing on just one student.
After being told that she would be a “great music director” by her high school choir director, Darland Denke attended South Dakota State University in pursuit of a degree in music education. She later found her niche at Black Hills State University where she graduated with a degree in Secondary History Education.
“Music and history are huge passions for me,” said Darland Denke. “I like history – I like to make it fun and entertaining for students, and ask things like ‘If this didn’t happen, what would be different?’ Not just show students films and PowerPoints, but teach critical thinking skills.”
After finding that there wasn’t ‘high need’ in her area of certification, Darland Denke applied for the Special Education Aide position at Blunt Elementary; which she found out about, by way of her great friend, Miss Maranda Olson, who had told her that they were hiring for aides this fall. Certified as a secondary teacher, Darland Denke says, “I’m loving it here at the elementary school.”
Darland Denke says that she initially found the idea of teaching in all the subject areas à la an elementary teacher unappealing, but returning to school to earn elementary certification is “very tempting.”
In her free time, Darland Denke enjoys spending time in the outdoors camping or fishing, or outings to the Black Hills. She makes her home in Pierre with her husband Luke and their two cats.