DonorsChoose – Dakota Valley Learning Center

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School districts that predominantly serve students of color often receive much less state and local funding compared to similar communities serving mostly White students. Learn about this disparity and find out how to help close it with DonorsChoose.

Democratic free school, inspired by permaculture and Sudbury Valley. We serve home education and unschooling families throughout Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Community Resources

District 18 offers robust community learning opportunities and programs for lifelong learners of all ages. One example is the Dakota Valley Learning Center, which combines three educational programs (early childhood family education, early childhood special education, and adult primary education) into one building to serve students and the community better. Its design promotes collaboration among these distinct programs, with separate wings dedicated to each program holding coinciding classes, while the two-story lobby with meeting rooms provides a central gathering spot.

Cornerstones Career Learning Center provides an array of educational offerings, such as GED prep courses, ESL classes, business and industry services, and WorkKeys testing. In addition, the center hosts community-based learning activities, including hands-on science and technology programs.

Huron Community Campus collaborates with prominent South Dakota colleges and universities to offer locally accredited post-grad courses and certified technical training. In addition, cultural events like Huron Area Community Theater productions regularly occur there.

Special Needs

Kelly is passionate about supporting equity and inclusive practices for all students. She enjoys collaborating with special education teams to ensure each child has equal access to success. In her free time, Kelly loves spending time with her family, playing outdoors, or enjoying adventures together.

District 196 offers comprehensive educational services for students with disabilities by State and Federal law, such as evaluations, programming, transition planning, related services, and academic records.

An evaluation team of parents/guardians, the child’s teachers, intervention specialists, and district representatives determines eligibility for special education services. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will then be created that meets each child’s needs.

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is evaluated annually and may change according to student needs. Specialized instruction may also include consultation, counseling, adaptation of materials, and support personnel such as speech-language pathologists or behavior consultants.

District 196 offers comprehensive Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs that provide educational experiences to children who have disabilities or developmental delays in a range of caring and inclusive settings. All services are provided without cost to families. In addition, each parent mentor works within District 196 itself as an employee to offer advice and support for parents of children with disabilities; many also serve as parents themselves!

Parent Involvement

NDSU Extension offers parents numerous resources that can assist and engage them in their child’s development, such as:

Family engagement opportunities must be provided continuously to promote parenting success and school readiness. Examples include parent discussion groups, monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions (with childcare provided), or early learning parent-teacher conferences.

Community organizations are critical in providing families with information and connecting them to services and resources, including health care (nurses at hospitals or maternity units) and school districts.

Participants were polled on their preferred methods for becoming aware of family engagement opportunities; most preferred technological methods (text messaging and email contact), followed by mailing/printed information, telephone calls, and home visits from family members. When possible, provide opportunities to multiple family members (grandparents or aunts and uncles included).

Utilizing transition experiences (like kindergarten entrance) as opportunities for family engagement is also critical in aiding transitional experiences for both the child and his/her family members, strengthening connections, and increasing learning engagement. Research supports this strategy, citing that Chicago Child-Parent Centers result in higher academic achievement and better outcomes among low-income students.

Student Success

Students thrive in an environment that promotes optimal learning conditions, and their teachers are respected and engaged, encouraging collaboration and innovation among staff members. Furthermore, resources are managed efficiently to facilitate effective programming and continuous improvement.

The District offers an impressive array of student success services, such as tutoring and the Student Support Center, to ensure every student can access all necessary resources. In addition, many scholarships and financial assistance programs exist within its boundaries to aid with paying for higher education.

Our newly constructed Learning Center unifies Early Childhood Family Education, Early Childhood Special Education, and Adult Basic Education under one roof to better serve the community. Separate wings enable each program to host concurrent classes, while our two-story lobby boasting small-group meeting spaces and assessment rooms encourages collaborative discussions amongst the programs.

Dakota Valley students have a proven record of being prepared for life after graduation. Alumni have been accepted to highly selective colleges such as Duke, Harvard, Marquette, and many more (nationally) and regionally (UW-Madison military academies, UW-Madison). Our innovative Continual Learning program also allows our students to earn credits at a pace suitable to them in classroom settings.

Dakota Valley Student Support Division offers various student success services to the community, such as counseling, peer tutoring, and academic advising. Students should utilize these resources when they feel they are experiencing difficulty.