Faces in the Crowd: June Apaza

Now that her career is at the finish line, she reflects on the impact she has helped make on countless students a with the help of passionate professionals.

June Apaza graduated with a teaching degree in 1972 from Black Hills State University and has since been a lifelong learner and has made it her career to spread the knowledge she has to others.

June took her first teaching position in the middle of Haakon county, about 40 miles North of Phillip, in a one room schoolhouse and taught grades k-8. The students came from surrounding ranch families. June says for those 3 years, it was a lot of give and take.

 

Apaza says, “You know I grew to really like the community and to really sort of understand and appreciate particularly the ranch life and the family life of those kids. I was teaching them things like reading and writing and mathematics, but they were really, smart ranch kids and they knew so much about things that I didn’t know anything about. And so, spending time learning from them and appreciating what they knew and understood.”

She then moved to Deadwood, took time off teaching to be a stay at home mom. When she decided to get back into teaching, she first went back to school herself with a goal to teach kids to enjoy reading- since she was dyslexic, reading was a challenge for her.

And her first job back was in Hot Springs teaching 5th grade, with an emphasis on getting the students excited about reading.

Her next stop was at TIE (Technology and Innovation in Education), creating professional development for teachers.

She rounded out her career at CAMSE (Center for the Advancement of Math & Science Education) at Black Hills State University and Education & Outreach at Sanford Lab, organizations that make science and mathematics more accessible, interesting and fun for students.

Through it all, her primary concern was always the student’s needs.

courtesy Sanford Lab

Now that her career is at the finish line, she reflects on the impact she has helped make on countless students a with the help of passionate professionals.

Apaza says, “And I felt so lucky that I was able to be involved with reaching out to all of these teachers and students and what I learned is in South Dakota, even though education is not very well funded in the state of South Dakota, we have wonderful, wonderful teachers who are really, really dedicated to their students and really, really want their students to be successful. I feel like I’ve been sort of standing on the shoulders of giants my entire career and I’m going to miss it I’m going to miss it a lot.”

Apaza says she will continue to learn into her retirement and looks forward to trying out yoga, spending more time with family and volunteering.

To nominate someone for our Faces in the Crowd segment, click here. 

Categories: Faces in the Crowd

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