2020 Fellows

Congratulations to the 2020 TALES Fellows!

The Fellows were asked to share a short bio and their reasons for applying for the TALES Fellowship.

Hope Armstrong

I am a science teacher at Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre. I’ve been doing this wonderful adventure for the last 32 years! I love my job and have a deep desire to reach my students on a personal level. Many of them have never left the borders of our state to even realize what a big world we live in. I teach Earth and Space science and daily teach about topics and regions across the globe. This class offers we an opportunity to present the world on an approachable level, through my own personal experiences. I’m excited to get started.

Ashley Boone

Teaching 9th grade English and Oral Interpretation at T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre, SD offers me many opportunities to stimulate student learning through sharing my own experiences. The walls of my 7th grade social studies teacher's room was decorated with artifacts from his vast world travels, and I was enchanted and invigorated by Mr. Hadjar's stories. With that high-ceiling classroom in the old senior high school in Wallkill, NY in mind, I try to incorporate authentic personal artifacts and anecdotes into my teaching to help bring the textbook to life. The TALES fellowship is an opportunity for me to not only share what I already do, but to connect with and learn from others who value this type of education experience.

Jessica Carr

I teach 7th grade life science at Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre, SD. My motivation for applying to be a TALES Project Fellow was to encourage and develop the idea of using personal experiences and storytelling in the classroom setting. Learning becomes relatable and relevant when students have a connection to it and a lot of this can be accomplished with stories. I’m so excited to be part of this program!

Marci Hoffman

I teach 6th-12th Special Education at Madison Central School District in Madison, South Dakota. Why I applied for the TALES Project Fellow was so that I could bring story telling into my classroom and allow my students the opportunity to participate in an activity that involved something that is outside of their comfort zone. I am looking forward to implementing this project into Room 504!

Amanda Klawonn

I teach K-12 Behavioral Special Education at Madison Central School District in Madison, South Dakota. I have been in this position for 6 years and work with many of the same students from year to year. I applied for the fellowship to broaden my horizons, add tools to my teaching toolkit, and learn some new ideas to incorporate in my classroom. I think learning more about the Lived Experiences sounds like an awesome opportunity for my students and me.

Bree Oatman

I teach Chemistry, Physics and Health Science Careers at Lead Deadwood High School in Lead, SD. I applied for the fellowship because storytelling is a powerful tool for helping students connect emotionally and mentally to learning. Artifacts of lived experiences create a context for sharing those stories. Science is the act of observing phenomena (possibly artifacts from lived experiences) and trying to make sense of the world around us. This process is embedded in our individual stories.

Julie Olson

I have been an educator for 32 years and am currently teaching at Mitchell High School and Mitchell Second Chance High School in Mitchell, SD. I teach scientific research methods and college credit Biology. I mentor students for the science fair as well as Visiting Senior Scientists – high school students that present engaging science lessons to elementary students.

Being part of the TALES Fellowship will allow me to share my experiences with my students as well as help them create their own. This will allow them to apply their knowledge to new phenomena and scientific problems. I am also a firm believer that the arts – including creative writing – are essential for conveying information scientific information and stimulating interest in science to the public.

Lisa Plummer

I teach at Medary Elementary within the Brookings School District. I teach English Language Learners (ELL). Our school is very diverse with 59 students K-3 representing 21 countries including 14 different languages. I am eager to embrace the TALES Project to contribute unique experiences to share with others. I have 20+ years of teaching experience in 9 school districts, SDSU and teaching/traveling to 28 countries. I enthusiastically want to share my experiences as an educational resource for many classrooms.

Kelly Preheim

I have been the kindergarten teacher in Armour, SD for the last 28 years. I incorporate my passion for birds and nature into my curriculum in hopes of encouraging young students to love the outdoors and become stewards of their environment. I also share my experiences with my weekly after school Chickadee Bird Club for students in grades K-5th.

I applied for the fellowship because I already teach through sharing my experiences and I see the effects it has on students. I strongly believe that storytelling and sharing experiences is a valuable concept, I would like to become better at this skill and I'd like to become a part of the professional community of TALES educators. One reason I find it valuable to share with children is that I can be an example to children of what an explorer is like. They begin to see that while exploring, they can discover the wonder of our natural world and it is very exciting!

Nicole Troxell

I teach 10th grade language arts, speech, and debate at Madison High School in Madison. I applied for the fellowship because I’m always looking for opportunities to improve as a teacher. I’ve travelled quite a bit, and I’ve often tried to use those experiences as opportunities to teach my students. But I believe I can do more, and I am hoping the TALES Fellowship will give me the tools to share stories purposefully and well.

Mary Steffen

I teach 3rd Grade, at Stanley County Elementary. I applied for this opportunity because I lived all over the world as a child and I continue to travel the world even now. I have often wondered how I might be able to use these traveling adventures, in my classroom. Last year, I rented a small apartment in Italy for a month and really felt like I had so many fabulous experiences, but no way to formalize a presentation to my students. This year, I am spending a month in remote Costa Rica in the jungle and on the beach. The animals that frequent this home are unbelievable. I think this time I can really come up with ideas to really “WOW” my students. The home even has a third level up in the trees for an observation deck. I can’t wait! Thank you so much for this opportunity!