School Zone: Mitchell

MITCHELL, S.D. – For this week’s edition of ‘School Zone,’ we head west to Mitchell.

Students at Gertie Belle Rodgers Elementary School are learning through ‘personalized learning classrooms.’ P-L-C’s focus on student’s learning at their own pace, not through traditional measures. Things like a traditional classroom, K-5 grade levels, and ‘A’ through ‘F’ grading scales are thrown out. Students are referred to as ‘learners,’ and teachers are known as ‘facilitators.’ Learners are not grouped together based on grade level or age, but rather individualized based on where their learning is at each day for each subject. Through the new program, facilitators say they’ve seen an uptick in student engagement and performance.

“A large part of our day is given to students to work on their passions. So, they’re encouraged to discover any topics that of are interest to them and then they implement their core skills within those topics,” said facilitator Sarah Fosness.

Also in Mitchell, even though summer break is just around the corner, students and parents around town can still get a school meal during the off months.

The Mitchell School District continues it’s yearly tradition of offering students a free breakfast and lunch over the summer, and their families a discounted meal. In the past, students and families could only grab a meal at Longfellow Elementary School, but now the program has branched out to offer meals at Gertie Belle Rodgers, Longfellow, Mitchell Middle School, and Mitchell High School. Event organizers say only one previous location, travel issues, and time constraints made feeding everyone a tough task.

“Sometimes the lines would be out the door, and we would want to make sure everyone gets fed. This way, the locations won’t be as hectic and will be closer and easier for the kids to get to,” said director of food service LeAnn Carmody.

Last but certainly not least one Mitchell elementary teacher, Dina Vander Wilt, was recognized for the use of technology in her classroom.


KDLT’s Simon Floss and Photojournalist Grant Sweeter took a trip west to find out more.

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