top of page

SDAESP and SDASSP Conference Held in Deadwood

The South Dakota Elementary Principals’ Association and the SD Association of Secondary School Principals held their “Difference Makers” annual professional development conference in Deadwood on June 12-14th. At the annual banquet, both organizations recognized Principals across the State for the 2023 SDAESP and SDASSP Principals of the Year and Principals of Excellence.

The annual event has been a combined K-12 Professional Development opportunity for principals across the State of South Dakota since 2016 to meet the needs of our diverse state.. Featured Keynote Speakers at the conference this year included NAESP National Director Dr. Earl Franks and former South Dakota State University Football Coach, John Steigelmeier. Professional development opportunities for the Principal attendees included a New Principal Luncheon, breakout sessions by Professors from NSU, DSU, and USD, presentations from the SD School Safety Center, and breakout sessions from principals and school cooperatives from across the State.

SDAESP Elementary Principal of the Year:

  • Samantha Walder, Legacy Elementary, Tea Area School District*

SDAESP Principal of the Year Nominees:

  • Susan Foster, Fred Assum Elementary, Brandon Valley School District

  • Kim Aman, Simmons Elementary, Aberdeen School District*

  • Janel Guse, Madison School District

SDAESP Innovator of the Year: Gail Krause, Hamlin School District*


  • Todd Rahlf, Deuel

  • Danae Paxton, Timber Lake School District*

SDAESP Rookie of the Year: Shannon Smith, Brookings*


  • Forrest “Frosty” Paris, Custer School District

  • Tasha Gatzmeyer, Aberdeen School District*

  • Sara Leibel, Tripp-Delmont School District

  • Carrie Klein, Baltic School District

  • Angela Nelson, Harrisburg School District

  • Katie Hoekman, Garretson School District

  • Tara White, Agar-Blunt-Oneida School District

  • Patrick Purdy, Chamberlain School District*

  • Becky Fjerstad, Wessington Springs School District

  • Emily Smith, Lyman School District*

  • Laura Throener, Elk-Point Jefferson School District*

  • Jon Redmond, Clark School District

  • Abby Karn, Hot Springs School District*

  • Courtney Crosswait, Douglas School District

  • Chris Gruenhagen, Brookings School District*

  • Grant Hanson, Wilmont School District*

SDAESP Community Leader: Heather Hiltunen, Sioux Valley


  • Barb Hansen, Tea Area School District*

  • Ethan Dschaak, Meade School District

  • Danae Paxton, Timber Lake School District*

  • April Moen, Siseton School District*

  • Laura Morrow, Watertown School District*

  • Heather DeBoer, Watertown School District*

  • Kelly Neill, Elkton School District

SDAESP: Curriculum Leader of the Year: April Moen, Sisseton*


  • Shannon Knopf, Watertown School District

  • Samantha Weaver, Hill City School District*

  • Danae Paxton, Timber Lake*

  • Janelle Johnson, Parker School District*

  • Shannon Smith, Brookings School District*

SDASSP Principals of the Year –

  • Assistant Principal of the Year – Brady Sumners, Spearfish Middle School*

  • Middle School Principal of the Year – Darren Ellwein, Harrisburg South Middle School*

  • High School Principal of the Year – Pete Wilson, Sturgis Brown High School*

SDASSP Regional Assistant Principals of the Year

  • Region 1—Troy Terronez, Watertown High School*

  • Region 2—Richard Hutchinson, George McGovern Middle School*

  • Region 3—Shane Thill, Mitchell High School

  • Region 4—Tina Board, Aberdeen Central High School*

  • Region 6—Rob Coverdale, Pierre TF Riggs High School

  • Region 7 – Brady Sumners, Spearfish Middle School*

Middle School Regional Principals of the Year

  • Region 2 – Tim Koehler, George McGovern Middle School*

  • Region 3 – Ray Slaba, Hanson Middle School

  • Region 5—Brent Mareska, Tiospaye Topa Middle School

  • Region 7—Jay Beagle, Lead-Deadwood Middle School*

High School Regional Principals of the Year

  • Region 1 – Lisa Parry, Arlington High School

  • Region 2 – Adam Shaw, Madison High School

  • Region 3 – Joe Childs, Mitchell High School

  • Region 4 – Carrie James, Britton-Hecla High School*

  • Region 5 – Kelly Messmer, Harding County High School

  • Region 6 – Gerald Witte, Winner High School

  • Region 7 – Pete Wilson, Sturgis Brown High School*

**Asterisks indicate the Principal is present in the photos.

129 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Update from the FRC

Click on the PDF for the January newsletter from our Federal Relations Coordinator, Troy James.


bottom of page