SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – It started off as a normal morning for everyone at Washington High School. However, things quickly changed for one psychology teacher.
Alison Ter Horst has been teaching psychology at Washington High School for 14 years and she sees a lot of kids every day. Those close to her say she’s one of the hardest working and engaging teachers they have ever seen.
“She has all the x’s and 0’s and the strategies of being a phenomenal teacher in the classroom. She’s built the relationships with the kids that lasts forever,” said Washington High Principal Don Conrad.
So, when the school called an early morning assembly, she thought it was business as usual. While watching the choir sing and the dance team dance, she was already thinking about teaching her next class. Little did Ter Horst know, this assembly was all about her.
South Dakota Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones made a special appearance at the assembly. Along with representatives of the Milken Educator Awards Foundation. The foundation honors the best teachers in the nation with an award and $25,000.
There had not been any teachers awarded from South Dakota this year, until today.
Ter Horst was shell shocked and just given a national award that very few teachers ever receive. But in true Ter Horst fashions, she is using the experience as another teaching opportunity for her students.
“I tell kids that there are different currencies other than money or fame. When someone comes back and says ‘my life has changed because of you,’ that is a bigger currency than what you make in a year,” said Ter Horst.
Ter Horst will go to a conference in Indianapolis with other recipients to discuss how to improve the education system nationwide and to gain inspiration for her own classroom.