Hansen and VanDeStroet nominated for Special Education Team of the Year

Above, from left, Jordann Hansen and Erin VanDeStroet.

Hansen and VanDeStroet nominated for Special Education Team of the Year

By Shiloh Appel

Redfield Public School Special Education teachers, Erin VanDeStroet and Jordann Hansen were recently nominated for South Dakota’s Special Education Team of the Year by Matt and Randi Jessen. The team was astounded to receive the honor.

“It was just really sweet. It is a huge honor. We enjoy working with the students. We don’t do it for the glory or anything like that, we are just doing it to make sure the students are getting what they need,” said Hansen. “At first, [Mrs. Jessen] didn’t tell us why. It was kind of a surprise. She asked us to send all of the information about ourselves. And I was like ‘uh…do you want my social security number?’ Then she kind of gave us more information and asked us not to tell anyone that we were being nominated for this.”

VanDeStroet and Hansen have ten students on their case load. They were nominated by the parents of one of their students, Chloe Jessen. When describing why she nominated Mrs.Hansen and Miss VanDeStroet, Mrs. Jessen pointed out that the team is impressive in their commitment.

“These two are exemplary educators for our daughter,” said Mrs. Jessen, in her nomination description. “Jordann works very hard as Chloe’s teacher and ensures a good program is in place. She has taken several of the trainings provided through the Center for Disabilities Deaf-Blind project including sign language and Deaf-Blind training modules. Jordann also implements and shares what she learns with the team. Jordann also includes us as parents in all decisions and treats us with the utmost respect. Erin has worked with Chloe through most of her school career. Erin is on track to complete all 27 modules by the end of the summer. She has a great relationship with Chloe and has picked up on use of sign language and object clues as a way to communicate and teach her.”

Ms.VanDeStroet grew up in Garretson, South Dakota and graduated from high school there. She has worked with children since she was a freshman in high school.

“I worked at the local daycare until after I graduated,” wrote VanDeStroet in her nomination essay. “I [then] went to a bigger center style daycare where I worked in the mobile infant room. After many years of distance with my boyfriend, I decided it was time to move to Tulare, SD where I am currently resided…Upon moving to Tulare, I got a job at the local Daycare in Redfield, SD. I was working as the Co-Director and the cook at the center. I worked with many age groups and came up with lesson plans and activities to keep the kids busy. After the center unexpectedly closed down, I knew my love for children couldn’t stop there. I then became employed at the Redfield School District in January of 2017 working as a life skills special education paraprofessional.”

In March of 2020, Ms. VanDeStroet also decided to work towards becoming an Intervener through the Deaf-Blind project to become an advocate for deaf and/or blind students.

“It has been a fun and challenging road, but I’m excited [for] all of the opportunities the title will bring,” said VanDeStroet.

Mrs. Hansen lives in Redfield and is married to Adam Hansen. They have three children. Her hobbies include reading, crocheting, and game nights with her family. She has earned her Bachelors in Elementary and Special Education (2011), her Masters in Teaching and Learning (2014) and 15 credit hours of education in behavior management tools, sign language, deaf-blindness, sensory processing needs and various other topics. Her philosophy for learning is that “each child is unique, and each learns in a different way.” One of her passions as a teacher is “to help each child discover his or her individuality and work alongside them to maximize it.” She believes in teamwork, hands-on experiences and learning creatively.

“We have seven of us all together. A lot of the students we work with receive substantial support throughout the day,” said Hansen.

“We work really well as a team, so our whole team, actually, deserves an award. But we are here for the whole team,” said VanDeStroet.

As nominees, Hansen and VanDeStroet were also honored to take part in the 2021 South Dakota Special Education Conference held via Zoom on March 16th and 17th.

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