Director's Message
Department of Diversity, Equity & Federal Programs:
Who Are We & What Do We Do
Beginning in July 2020, the Rapid City Area Schools’ combined their Department of Diversity, Equity & Outreach with the Department of Federal Programs, to create the new Department of Diversity, Equity, and Federal Programs. Whitnee Pearce is the director of the department that houses the Office of Title VI Indian Education, Whole CHILD Initiative, Federal Programs, and the district’s social workers. Our team works to take down barriers that may restrict students from achieving and being engaged learners.

Title VI Indian Education

We provide services to meet the unique educational and culturally related academic needs to our Native American Students. We provide culturally responsible teaching, trauma informed care, language revitalization, cultural activities, and professional development for staff. Our team consists of a Title VI Indian Education Manager, two Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings Teachers, one Cultural Mentor paraprofessional, two Lakota language teachers, and three Title VI Indian Education social workers.


Whole CHILD, is a district initiative in the strategic plan that addresses the importance of relationship building and providing tools of success in educational settings. Through a focus that all students need to be receiving four areas of care through Whole CHILD we strive to provide students and families opportunities to break down systemic barriers in the way of their student’s success in education. We provide services for students throughout the district to receive: Culturally Responsive Learning, Trauma Informed Care, Restorative Practices, and Suicide Prevention.

Federal Programs

We coordinate and manage resources which supplement quality instructional practices that positively impact student achievement. We provide services throughout the district in the areas of: Title I Schools, School Improvement, Mckinney-Vento Homeless/Migrant program, alternative education (Juvenile Services Center, Arise, Wellfully, Children’s Home), GED program, Homebound, and many federal and local grant monies.

District Social Workers

We provide social and emotional learning opportunities and help to students and families. We connect families to resources within our community to break down barriers to their student's education. We have social workers at General Beadle Elementary, Knollwood Elementary, South Middle School, North Middle School, Central High School, Stevens High School, and Rapid City High School. We are looking to provide a district-wide social worker as well.

We recognize that diversity within our community and schools has changed throughout the years and the Rapid City area has even greater diversity projected to come. We strive to continue to provide services so that all our students can succeed without barriers to their education.
Events Coming Up
Remember to sign up for the
Lakota Language Consortium Weekend! We are very excited to host students, parents, and teachers of the Rapid City Area School District during this weekend geared toward beginner level Lakota speakers for FREE.

Dates: November 14, 2020—November 15, 2020
9:00 AM-4:15 PMMT

Spots are limited. Once registration fills, you will be directed to join the waitlist.

Register today:
Rock Your Mocs Day - Nov.16th

The event for worldwide is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 15th, 2020 but we as a district will celebrate Nov. 16th, 2020. Students, Teachers, & Staff wear your moccasins to school! Snap a picture & submit on our FB for a chance to win prizes!

E - Learning Friday Cultural Events
Every E-Learning Friday starting in October, we have had a different virtual online cultural event on the Rapid City Title VI Indian Education's FB page. Coming up this month:

  • Nov. 6th Corey Yellowboy - Traditional Lakota Storytelling - English & Lakota

  • Nov. 13th Gene Swallow - Ledger Art
*While students can do the art at home, Ledger Art Kits are available for students on a limited basis. To sign up for your spot please email: or send us a message on Facebook by Nov. 11th at noon.

  • Nov. 20th Title VI Social Workers - Resiliency through Lakota Thought 

If you don't have Facebook, don't worry! Check out these videos and past videos on our Youtube Channel.
School & Student Shout Outs!
North Middle School and Horace Mann Elementary School welcomed Starr Chief Eagle to learn about hoop dancing and Lakota culture. Students were even able to make their own hoops and learn basic dance moves.
Central High School Cobblers are diving into the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings in their English courses.

This year all 11th grade English courses, teachers began the school year focusing on how stories help us understand who we are, who we could be, and where we came from. Instead of using the stories in the textbook, classes are using Lakota stories to develop students' understanding of the significance of storytelling and Lakota culture to the essence of the land where we live.

Teachers have been guided by the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings, materials by Dr. Craig Howe from Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), interview videos with the WoLakota Project, Joseph Marshall III's "Lakota Way", and the office of Title VI Indian Education.

East Middle School has starting off the school year with OSEU lessons. Mr. Shute's class used the Buffalo Box to help students understand how valuable the buffalo has always been. His 153 students also did a comparing and contrasting assignment between the buffalo and the elk!
Students at North Middle School, in Mrs. Cole's class have been focusing on learning the Lakota values and what it means to be a good relative throughout the year. Students have developed expectations centered around Lakota values. Also students in her class learned about kinship and traditional behavior patterns while they painted pumpkins. Mr. Hafer even joined in the fun!
At Meadowbrook Elementary over 72 students learned about the uses of the Yucca plant both traditionally and in contemporary times. They used text from Luther Standing Bear and also Lakota chef, Sean Sherman. Students also were able to create their very own Yucca Soap during their class.
Juvenile Services Center & Wellfully Updates
Cultural Classes This Year
Students at the Juvenile Services Center (JSC) and Wellfully this year have been engaging in credit-bearing classes enriched with Lakota cultural knowledge and the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings.

As you see in the nearby photos, high school students at JSC learned about the uses of patterns in world art from 700 BCE to the present. They learned about traditional Oceti Sakowin pattern use in quillwork design, beadwork design, and in contemporary Lakota art with the art of Dwayne Wilcox.

They designed original patterns of their choice, and their artwork will be exhibited when all students are finished.

At Wellfully, students worked on their craft of beadwork by developing beautiful beaded art. This year students are able to earn .5 credit through lessons with our Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings team.

We have already have one student earn .5 a credit for their hard work, commitment, and efforts within Oceti Sakowin culture and knowledge.
Staff Spotlights
"I look forward to a great school year ahead! As we all navigate new things, I feel it’s important to stay positive and see how the new things shape and change us to grow and keep moving forward."

Abbie Waitman is an elementary social worker at General Beadle Elementary School. Abbie works with students to engage their social and emotional learning abilities and connects families with resources to help their students succeed in and out of school.
"I have the best job in the district. I help students and families navigate the barriers to education that life throws at them. I help students and families connect with school and find success."

Say hello to, Nicole Swigart! She serves as Rapid City Area Schools District's Title ID Principal. She is the administrator for Rapid City Area Schools McKinney-Vento program and alternative education routes including education at Wellfully, Juvenile Services Center, GED program, and home-bound learning.
Department Highlights
Mask Donation - North Middle School has been working hard to pass out KN95 masks that were donated by the HeSapa Voter Initiative and Meals for Relatives COVID-19 Rapid City Community Response! These organizations donated 1,000 new KN95 masks to the Rapid City Area Schools - Diversity, Equity & Federal Programs Department to help provide masks to all students at North Middle School!

We are SO thankful for our community's outpouring support for our students, families, and Rapid City Area Schools District! Wopila Tanka for your generosity!
Welcome New PAC Members-
Our Title VI Indian Education Office welcomes new Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) members. Send a virtual hello to:
  • Maverick Grey Horse
  • Corinne Siegel 
  • Johonna Wellington 
  • Rhiannon Wright

2nd Annual Ribbon Skirt & Ribbon Shirt First Day of School -
Students and staff were encouraged to wear their ribbon skirt or shirt on the 1st Day of school this year. This is the second year we have done this event and look forward to seeing all the beautiful ribbon skirts and shirts throughout our schools and through Zoom learning models.
Backpack, Supply, & Food Drive -
We teamed up with I.Am.Legacy, Black Hills Federal Credit Union, and the Juvenile Diversion program today to pass out over 300 backpacks filled with supplies! We also were able to provide sacks of lunch and other food items to families in the drive thru/walk thru.

We are thankful to be able to work with community partners and leaders in assisting our students and families!
SD DOE Recognition - The South Dakota Department of Education has recognized the work of our Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings (OSEU) team and their development of an OSEU lesson database. They have linked our lesson plans to their webpage with the state standards as examples. This is a huge honor and showcases the amazing work that our OSEU Teachers have done and their commitment to state standards that were developed by tribal elder and cultural leaders of the Oceti Sakowin. 

To learn more about the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings visit here or take a peek at the SD DOE's webpage.
Parent Resources
COVID-19 Community Resources- Here's a list of COVID-19 Resources in Rapid City and Black Hills area. These resources were created by the RCAS Social Work Team, is continually updated, and is a living document. It holds information for utilities, food, COVID-19 relief, mental health resources, online school tutorials, and more. Please check it out and share!
K-12 Connect - Free Internet-
The program, which will provide free internet for qualifying K-12 students until June 30, 2021. To enroll, eligible members will call the telecommunications company noted in his or her letter to set up service. 

Providers will install the necessary equipment on first-come, first-serve basis. 

More information, including options for households who may qualify but don’t receive a letter, can be found at
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