The award is given to teachers who have “demonstrated innovation” in the classroom and proven commitment to students in the career and technical education field.
“It’s exciting to be recognized amongst peers for the work I do in education and work for I do for students,” Gerlach said.
During Gerlach’s 26-year career, she’s spent nine years at the Mitchell School District. She has a philosophy of teaching students hands-on skills, which involves them leaving the classroom and going into the workforce. Gerlach also was awarded the Mitchell School District Teacher of the Year and the regional Teacher of the Year award in 2016.
“Career and technical education is extremely important because a lot of jobs out there require tech skills,” Gerlach said. “We at the secondary levels can help prepare these kids for that next level … and give them the necessary skills that they need.”
But she’s not the only Mitchell teacher who received an award in the field of career and technical education. The association also announced Suzanne Skinner was the recipient of the SDACTE Carl Perkins Community Service Award.
This award is given to teachers who utilize career and technical education to make a “significant impact on the community” and promote student involvement in community service.
Skinner has taught for 26 years in the Mitchell School District, and has been an educator for more than 37 years. But it was her partnerships with community groups and the city of Mitchell that earned her the award.
Skinner is also the adviser of the Mitchell FCCLA — Family, Career and Community Leaders of America — and her students have participated in projects for the Mitchell Area Safehouse and the Special Olympics.
“I just think it’s important for students to make that connection with the community. It’s a good way to build their leadership and give them chances to connect and make small steps toward a bigger goal,” Skinner said.
Winning at the state level, both Gerlach and Skinner are now qualified for the regional award in their respective areas. The Region V conference will be held April 11-14, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“What an honor to serve my profession well,” Skinner said about the regional award opportunity. “I’m proud to represent the FACS division.”