Teacher of the Year

Every year, the Garretson School District selects one of our best to be recognized as the district’s Teacher of The Year.

The title “Teacher of the Year” is not only rewarding, but honorable, especially this year. Mrs. Kayli Coburn, Garretson Middle and High School Special Education Teacher, embodies the traits of an effective educator of those who most need effective instruction. 

Mrs. Coburn started her teaching career in second grade, but was excited when she heard of an opening in the special education department. Without hesitation, she expressed her willingness to not only leave the general education classroom, but transition to an entirely different building/grade level to do so. Knowing how difficult it is to find effective special education teachers, or any at all, we welcomed her eagerness to give special education a try and have been nothing but pleased with our decision. 

Timelines and deadlines in the SPED world take an immense amount of planning and organization. Kayli is always on top of these and has been commended by outside personnel that work in our district, as well as parents, for her consistency and timeliness when planning evaluations and meetings. She ensures that things are taken care of ahead of time when it comes to her absences as well. 

Kayli offers staff and students a great deal of flexibility when it comes to scheduling. When planning for student instruction, Kayli communicates often with teachers, yet holds students accountable. She takes the time to learn how each of her students learn best, makes sure that classroom teachers understand her students as well, and is creative when needing to adapt instruction that isn’t working for a student. 

Students feel safe and welcome in Mrs. Coburn’s room. Her calm nature, desire to know her students beyond the lesson she teaches them, and sense of humor, has helped her develop strong relationships with those she serves. Many students who no longer qualify for services, and even some that never have, seek her assistance, knowing she’s there to offer help when she has time. The same could be said of teachers and aides who work in the building – Kayli is always willing to lend a hand! 

Kayli’s planning efforts during the school closure last year ensured that her students continued with their learning plans and got extra assistance if needed. She scheduled virtual meetings with all of her students and held herself accountable to being there for them. Kayli has had a plan in place for another closure this year, since October. Should our doors close again, her students will not miss a single day of special education instruction. 

Kayli’s positive, can-do attitude, compassion for students, willingness to meet kids where they’re at, desire and skill to challenge students while helping them, and true love for kids of all ages, makes her a deserving candidate for Garretson’s Teacher of the Year.  Congratulations, Ms. Coburn!

Garretson Schools to Ease Fan Restrictions at School Events

Our main priorities throughout this school year have been to keep our students and staff safe, to keep our school open and to give our students the opportunity to participate in school-sponsored activities.  With these goals in mind, the District moved to limit the attendance at winter home events in order to decrease the likelihood that school staff or students would contract COVID-19 at a school event.  The data for the month of January indicates a downward trend in the number of cases in the state and county compared to the spike in November and December.  Our next varsity home event is the Boys and Girls basketball doubleheader against Vermillion on January 22.  If local data continues to indicate flat or decreasing infection rate, our plan is to lift the restriction on the number of fans in attendance at this, and subsequent events.  The District will continue to monitor data sets from the SD Dept of Health, the SD Dept of Education, Minnehaha County and local information, and will adjust the plan as necessary throughout the winter seasons.  District patrons should check the school’s website for further adjustments and/or updates related to the pandemic. 

While we will not limit the number of fans in attendance, the District does have the following expectations for fans while in attendance at school events:

  1. Attendance at extra curricular events is voluntary, and as such, fans who attend assume the risk for taking precautions that will keep them safe. 
  2. Fans are expected to keep appropriate distance between themselves and others at all times when attending Garretson School District events.  Fans are responsible for their own proximity to other fans.
  3. The use of a face covering is highly recommended for people attending the event.
  4. Fans are expected to be in the stands and seated.  Fans will not be allowed to loiter in the hallway, lobby, stand in doorways or generally be outside the normal seating areas. 
  5. All Children in grades 5 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times.  Children in grades k-5 are expected to be seated with their parents.  Children must be accompanied to the restroom & concessions area by a responsible adult. 
  6. Students in grades 6-12 are expected to be seated in the student section, or if they prefer, with a parent. Students seated in the student section are expected to wear a face covering at all times.  Students may only be out of their section for bathroom and concessions and will not be allowed to run free in the facilities.
  7. There will be no fan / player mingling after the event.  At the conclusion of the event, all spectators are expected to remain in the stands until the teams have left the floor or field.  Fans are then expected to leave the facility immediately after teams make their exit
  8. All team personnel will exit the gym at the conclusion of the event, and will not return to the gymnasium. 

We thank you for your patience as we make adjustments based on the present conditions.

Sportsmanship – We’re On It!

By Chris Long – GMS/GHS Principal

GMS and GHS activities are off and running.  Wrestling and girls’ and boys’ basketball have had multiple contests to this point.  They all have a slight hiatus as the holiday moratorium on practices runs Dec. 23-27 and all will resume with contests at different times over the break.  Good luck to all our coaches and athletes.

While we are on activities, it’s good to bring up a nationwide problem and something that is not immune to us here in South Dakota…..and Garretson.


Nationwide, including South Dakota, there is a shortage of sports officials.  This shortage is not unique to one particular area or sport, but rather a consistent and persistent issue that is challenging school and state activity associations.

It’s not an obvious problem for those that come to watch the contests, but behind the scenes there are many things that have changed to ensure contests continue as planned.  There have been schools that have been forced to change contest dates in order to find officials, officials have had to work in multiple locations on the same day and even the trend to schedule basketball doubleheaders has been partly due to the availability of officials.

The question that most probably have is “WHY?”.

We have an official shortage because of how officials are treated.  Not by coaches, not by players…but by the fans.

As a 20+ year official myself, I’ve seen it all.  I’ve seen officials come and go (I can count at least 25 that I know myself quit all or partly due to the negative experiences of fan abuse).  Recently I was able to participate in a podcast about officiating created by Sacred Hoops director, Alan Bertram, a long-time basketball coach in South Dakota.  One of his main reasons for the podcast was to shine a light on the issue of the shortage of officials and to hopefully enlighten others on some of the misconceptions associated with officiating.  The link for that podcast is below.

According to the most recent issue of “HST – High School Today” (November 2019) in an article written by Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, and executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), schools all over the nation are being forced to address the issue of fan behavior towards officials, coaches, players and opponents.  Recent examples of poor fan behavior have led to groups of fans and even entire student sections being removed from high school contests.  A link to that entire article be found below.

As a district, we met with our entire 9-12 student body prior to our winter sports and talked about sportsmanship and expectations in regards to how we treat the officials and our opponents when attending activities.  Our students are aware that taunts, obscenities and other inappropriate behavior directed towards anyone will result in removal from the contest and possible consequences for future contests.

If you have attended Garretson home events in the past you have and will continue to notice expectations for our fans in the programs for our events.

It reads:

Sportsmanship- The Fan’s Role


The spectators at an athletic contest have an extremely important role in displaying good Sportsmanship.  As a group, your actions may have the biggest impact on how others see the reputation of your school and community. Please respect that a ticket is a privilege to observe the contest, not a license to verbally assault others or be generally obnoxious; Respect both players and fans of opposing teams, Know and understand the rules of the game, and Respect the decisions of an official and admire their willingness to publicly officiate student-athletes in the best interest of interscholastic sports.

We hope that all our fans, students and adults alike strive to exhibit respectful words and actions towards all the participants of our activities as detailed in the passage above.  It’s important to understand that our words and actions, especially as adults, are setting the example for our students and athletes – they are watching.

Prior to every contest our public address announcer reads the following statement:

“We are pleased to welcome you this evening to Garretson High School. This contest is being conducted under the guidance and regulation of the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the enjoyment and educational benefit of high school students. Good sportsmanship is essential for the success of these programs. Remember, you do not have to be an athlete to be a Good Sport!

We encourage you to cheer loud, support you team and be entertained by the abilities of our student athletes.  Realize that mistakes will be made by everyone…yes, even the officials.

Remember that even when they’re right, someone thinks they’re wrong.

Thanks for supporting the Blue Dragons.  Below are some additional resources in regards to sportsmanship and officiating.  The SDHSAA is always looking for officials, if you have an interest there is a link below for that as well.  There is also a great video below expressly for parents, called the “Parent’s Seat” from the NFHS.  Be sure to check that out!

One final reminder, you may have seen this in one of our area gyms….

Let the Coaches COACH.

Let the Players PLAY.

Let the Officials OFFICIATE.

Let the Fans be POSITIVE!

Happy Holidays and GO BLUE DRAGONS!


High School Today Article:


Memo to Parents: 


The Parent Seat (Article):



The Parent Seat (Video):


Sacred Hoops Podcast:


How to become an official (SDHSAA):