The Jeanne Spilde Gonzenbach Scholarship will be awarded annually starting with the 2016-2017 school year to two outstanding students who have a passion for teaching, financial need and hold majors in elementary, secondary or special education.

The first winners are senior Randi Johnson, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and junior Alanna Schmeichel, of Humboldt, South Dakota, both members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.

Johnson, who’s majoring in English with a minor in speech communications, has wanted to be a teacher since she was a high school freshman and plans to stay in South Dakota because she can make a difference here.

“Some students don’t have the best home life, so I try to be the best role model I can and want them to feel safe and comfortable in learning. My teachers changed my life and I hope to do the same,” she said.

Schmeichel, who’s pursuing majors in both elementary education and special education, said her passion for teaching stems from a desire to inspire students so they can realize their potential. She wants to work in the state after graduation because of tradition, family and home.

“South Dakota needs strong teachers who are dedicated to teach their students, despite wages, diversity and supplies. I want to teach because all children deserve equal opportunities to learn,” she said.

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