OPAL, SD – People often talk of country schools in terms of, ‘remember when.’ But for Stacey Schuelke, this years Meade School District Teacher of the Year, the country school is very much in the present.
“I grew up on a ranch near Marcus so I’ve always lived in the country. I attended country schools. It’s always been a passion of mine.
Stacy herself grew up attending country school K-8 at the United School in the Meade District. It was on to Faith after that for her high school years and then to Black Hills State University for a degree in education.
“It was always what I aspired to do,” she says. “I had some great role models in my life. I had a lot of great teachers. I thought if I could be anything like them, then that’s what I wanted to do.”
Years have passed but not her devotion to the lifestyle and teaching. Having her own three kids peer at her over text books, and now daughter TyAnn teaching beside her, is among her greatest joys.
“I taught all three of them here at the Opal School. TyAnn teaches here with me, our son Wyatt ranches with us here at home and Cassidy is a junior at Faith High School.”
Stacy teaches fifth through eighth grade students, while TyAnn (who is expecting twin girls in July) teaches kindergarten through third. After 27 years in a multi-grade classroom, she still teaches from the heart while imparting a solid footing for the young students.
“They are such great kids. So kind-hearted and respectful and hardworking. They surely make my job easy. It is like a large extended family. It’s just one of the perks of the job.”
She and husband Kirk ranch about five miles east of the Opal Country School – not a bad commute for living in the country. “I have always within the Meade School District. It works out since my husband and I ranch near here. I have it pretty good.”
Being selected as the 2020-2021 Meade School District Teacher of the Year means a lot to Stacy who is quick to recognize others.
“I’m certainly blessed. I know there are many, many, people who deserve this award as well. It makes me feel very humbled. In a world where there is so many crazy things going on, when you can hang on to special things like this, it makes life feel pretty good.
And about those perks she talked about earlier….there’s one more.
“There is not many places where your kids still bring you a dozen of fresh farm eggs every once in a while, right?
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE