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Sarah Pierce

Pierce

The manager of Native American education at the Rapid City Area Schools has resigned to focus on her fellowship with the Bush Foundation.

Sarah Pierce, who in March was named a member of the foundation's fellowship class for 2019, marked her final day with the schools last week in what she called a "bittersweet" decision.

“It’s not something that I foresaw or ever planned on coming into Rapid City schools,” she said late last Friday.

Originally from Rockyford on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, she holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's in secondary education from Creighton University. In her two years with the schools, Pierce had been credited with growing their offerings through Title VI, which provides federal funding for educational programming aimed at Native American students.

Lakota language classes expanded to General Beadle Elementary School during her tenure, bringing the total number of schools in the district that offer the classes to three. 

Pierce also oversaw a restructure of the school's Title VI program that she said was more in line with South Dakota standards for Native American cultural understandings. She said that she still plans on advocating for a more "culturally responsive" Rapid City, something she recently came to believe she could not do through the lens of the school system.

Pierce said she plans to remain in Rapid City and has accepted a "fiscally sponsored" position with NDN Collective — a local indigenous advocacy group — that focuses on educational equity.

A new program director has not yet been named, although Superintendent Lori Simon confirmed Monday that interviews for one have already been held.

Pierce is one of only two South Dakotans and the only Rapid City resident to receive a fellowship offer from the Bush Foundation this year. Over the next 12 to 24 months, she stands to receive up to $100,000 worth of training and professional development.

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— Contact Matt Guerry at matthew.guerry@rapidcityjournal.com

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