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USD and Vermillion School Focus on Student Strengths

Image Jolley Elementary School and USD Danielle Anderson, a USD student teacher, helps teach a class at Jolley Elementary School in Vermillion.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota and Jolley Elementary School in Vermillion will use $150,000 in grants from the Bush Foundation and USD School of Education to develop new teaching methods that play to students’ strengths.

Jolley, which serves students in second through fifth grade, received a $100,00 Teacher Effectiveness Initiative grant through the Bush Foundation, which focuses on investing in quality K-12 field experiences in partnership with a university. USD’s School of Education agreed to be that partner and contributed $50,000, in order to create a strength-based professional development school (PDS).

The school will follow the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education standards and focus on professional preparation of student teachers, faculty and teacher development, improving teaching practices and increasing K-12 student achievement.

The PDS will also help teachers and students to identify and use their strengths and talents in teaching and learning, which will guide teachers in customizing instruction for individual students.

“The strength-based classroom will provide a more personal, more relevant approach to education that empowers all students to discover their talents and believe the impossible,” Sue Galvin, principal of Jolley and a USD graduate, wrote in the Bush Foundation grant proposal.

The school is six blocks from campus, and USD has broad program options not available elsewhere in South Dakota, she said, adding that USD also draws numerous students from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

The Minnesota-based Bush Foundation, established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, contributes to programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 native nations.

Download an image: Danielle Anderson, a USD student teacher at Jolley Elementary School in Vermillion, student Tayden Wells and Misty Wells, a teacher. 


USD's School of Education is transformative in preparing students both inside and outside the classroom. Its research- and practitioner-based programs train future educators, counselors, leaders, fitness and sport-related professionals for successful careers. The school focuses on a comprehensive learning experience, lifelong learning and developing professionals grounded in best practice. The school’s divisions include counseling and psychology, curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, kinesiology and sport management, and teacher residency and education.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News