Students in Yankton Middle School were present when Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) interrupted class to present their math teacher with an award. Beth Kaltsulas was greeted by McCorkle who informed her that she was named recipient of the 2017 SDEA Teacher of Excellence for South Dakota. This is Kaltsulas’ second teaching award this year. In October the South Dakota Education Department named her the South Dakota Teacher of the Year.
McCorkle explained that the Excellence Award is given to one winner in each state as a way to recognize excellence and leadership in the classroom. She was doubly excited to be able to give out the award during American Education week.
Kaltsulas, known as Mrs. K to her students, expressed her love of teaching after receiving the award and explained the importance of passion when it comes to teaching kids. “If you are passionate and truly love what you are doing, kids can feel that and it makes them want to try harder,” she said. She believes that every moment is a teaching moment and demonstrated that belief by holding up the plaque shaped like South Dakota and asking her students to tell her what state it was.
Natasha Phillips, president of the Yankton Education Association, said that Kaltsulas’ superior teaching skills and her ability to connect with students and parents make her the embodiment of what a teacher should be.
Kaltsulas received a trip to Washington D.C. as part of the Excellence Award which will include networking and educational opportunities as well as an award dinner. Her classroom will also receive a $1,000 Innovation Grant. She can also apply for opportunities to travel abroad as part of a global fellowship which is available to Excellence Award winners.