Since its beginning in 1880, South Dakota School for the Deaf has
supported families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
In November of 1880, Reverend Thomas Berry founded the South
Dakota School for the Deaf (SDSD). He was responsible for the school's
administration which included the
hiring of the first teacher at SDSD, Miss Jennie Wright. Reverend
Berry was able to rent a private dwelling known as the Thomas Lodging
House located on Main Avenue.
Reverend Berry's tenure lasted less than one year; he returned to
Buffalo, New York shortly after the death of his wife. The school
depended upon donations of the founders,
Rev. Thomas Berry and public citizens for its financial support.
Upon Berry's departure in the fall of 1881, Miss Wright assumed
the position of superintendent. By this time, the school was located on
its current property on Eighth
Street in Sioux Falls. Miss Wright served in the role of
superintendent/ teacher for a very short time, and then relinquished her
position to marry.
In 1881, Mr. James Simpson, Miss Wright's deaf brother-in-law,
became the third superintendent serving for the next 22 years from 1881
to 1903. In 1883, the Territorial
Legislature provided for a Board of Trustees of five members to be
appointed by the Governor for a period of two years. Under Simpson's
administration, the school grew
from one building with seven students to a well-equipped institution
with a total enrollment of 54 (35 boys and 19 girls) and operated a
farm that provided all of the
food needed for students and staff.
In 1889, South Dakota achieved statehood, and the school was
placed under the governance of the Board of Charities and Corrections.
At the time, the school owned 30
acres of land, a girls' dormitory was added and electric lights were
Miss Dora Donald, superintendent of the school for the blind,
succeeded Mr. James Simpson as superintendent in 1903 becoming the
fourth administrator and second woman
to hold the position.
In 1908 Mr. J. D. McLaughlin led the school and held the position
of superintendent until 1910 when Howard Simpson, the son of James
Simpson, assumed the position of
superintendent. Under Howard Simpson's leadership, SDSD's student
population grew to 100 by 1916. In 1920, Mr. Simpson resigned after 12
years of service.
From 1920 to 1925 Harry Welty served as SDSD's superintendent.
During his administration, ten acres of the school's farmland was given
to the South Dakota State College
to experiment with fruits and roses. And in 1925, Mr. E.S.
Tillinghast assumed the superintendent position and under his guidance, a
primary hall, new gymnasium, and
farm and school building additions occurred.
In 1939, Mr. Arthur S. Myklebust began his 34 year tenure that
brought many changes and improvements to South Dakota School for the
Deaf. During his term, a Speech-Reading,
Speech and Hearing Aid clinic (1942) gave no cost services to Sioux
Falls residents. It was the only one of its kind in the United States at
that time. In 1944 a new
dormitory was constructed, the school was placed under the Board of
Regents governance (1945); the SDSD farm was sold (1949), a kitchen
renovation occurred and an infirmary
was built (1963). In November of 1966, The Hearing and Speech Center
was established to serve children and adults who were deaf and hard of
hearing and their families,
as well as educators and medical staff in the state and a swimming
pool was added in 1971. Myklebust retired in 1973 and Mr. John Hudson
Jr. assumed the position of
superintendent. Hudson's most significant contribution was the
initiation and completion of the new SDSD school building. On October 3,
1979, 98 years and 288 days
after the Dakota Territorial School for the Deaf started, the Berry
Wright Educational Facility opened. In his final year, John Hudson's
hired Gordon Kaufman as the
first principal of the new school. Kaufman was appointed acting
superintendent and became the eleventh superintendent in 1979. He is
remembered as the superintendent
during SDSD's centennial, which was celebrated in 1980.
In January, 1983, during Kelly W. Boesen's tenure as
superintendent, SDSD witnessed the largest enrollment in its history and
some of the largest graduating classes
(14 in 1983 and 17 in 1984). SDSD also held the first Family
Learning Workshop (FLW) on the campus. Barb Dowling coordinated the
first two FLW and then Fran Noteboom
took over responsibilities for the next 15 years.
In August of 1989, Dr. Frank R. Turk, from Gallaudet University,
was selected as superintendent. Turk was the second deaf superintendent
of the school. Frank Turk was
one of the most prominent deaf leaders in the nation and emphasized
the concept of a total educational environment as stated in the book
entitled, “The Transcendent
Territory,” by Communication Services for the Deaf. Dr. Turk
fervently believed the schools role and mission was to foster both
intellectual and personal growth and
development-not as separate entities but as one indivisible whole.
Dr Turk's goal was to make SDSD a model that would be followed
nationwide. He was outstanding in
the area of public relations and brought national recognition to
SDSD through the school's sponsorship of the first national conference
on deafness bringing in well-known
national leaders such as I. King Jordan, president of Gallaudet
University, and Bernard Bragg, a world-class deaf actor. Turk was also
instrumental in the establishment
of the interagency agreement between SDSD, South Dakota Sensory
Visually Handicapped School (SDSVH), and the Department of Education and
Cultural Affairs (DECA) working
with Dr. Dean Myers, DECA director, and Marjorie Kaiser, SDSVH
Larry Puthoff became the third deaf individual to serve as
superintendent from 1991-1995. He graduated from SDSD and achieved his
post-secondary degree from Gallaudet
University. He also received a Master's degree from Augustana
College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and another Master's degree from
California State University, Northridge
(CSUN) in the area of Administration and Supervision. Puthoff made
history by being the first alumnus from a school for the deaf to become
superintendent of the same
school. In 1992 under his tenure, the state legislature approved a
request from the Board of Regents to build a new dormitory which opened
in 1994. The Board of Regents
stipulated that a portion of the campus be sold to raise money for
the facility. December 1993, South Dakota Association for the Deaf
(SDAD) and Communication Services
for the Deaf (CSD) purchased the land and four buildings. In 2000,
while working at Communication Services for the Deaf, Larry Puthoff also
researched and developed
the book, “The Transcendent Territory: The Minds, Hearts and Hands
Behind the Unique Deaf and Hard of Hearing Culture of South Dakota.
On July 31, 1995, SDSD welcomed Dr. Jon C. Green as the 15th
superintendent. While he served at SDSD, a playground was constructed,
repairs were made to the Myklebust
Recreation Center roof, eight garages built in the 1940's were torn
down, and a new front entrance was completed. In the nine years he was
at superintendent, Dr. Green
made substantial changes in the educational programs available at
the school implementing a Bilingual Education program and an
Auditory/Oral program. In the fall of
1997, a foundation, named “Friends of SDSD” was established with the
help of Bernie Christianson of the South Dakota Community Foundation
and Jim Shekleton of the South
Dakota Board of Regents. The purpose of the Foundation was to
establish private funding to support the mission of SDSD. In 2004, Dr.
Green accepted a position as a
Research Fellow for the South Dakota Board of Regents.
In the fall of 2004, Dr. Maureen Schloss served as the interim
superintendent and by December, 2004 was appointed superintendent of the
South Dakota School for the Deaf.
Dr. Schloss was certified in elementary education, special
education, and deaf and hard of hearing education and completed a
doctorate in special education at the State
University of New York. Dr. Schloss remained in her position until
The dormitories at SDSD were closed in May of 2005.
From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Terry Gregersen served as the SDSD
superintendent. Mr. Gregersen's background included a Master's degree in
Deaf Education and experience as the
Director of Instruction at the California School for the Deaf.
Dr. Marjorie Kaiser, served for 27 years as the Superintendent of
the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SDSBVI) in
Aberdeen and assumed responsibility
for administration of SDSD in July of 2010. She previously directed
the deaf-blind program at SDSBVI for ten years. Dr. Kaiser assumed the
dual roles of superintendent
of SDSBVI and SDSD consolidating administrative functions of the
state's two special schools in an effort to direct more resources to
student services. In 2010, SDSD
celebrated 130 years of service.
In July 2008 SDSD, through a contractual agreement with the
Brandon Valley School District, established an Auditory Oral educational
program for students who are deaf
and hard of hearing from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. In
July 2009 SDSD, through a contractual agreement with the Harrisburg
School District, established a
Bilingual, American Sign Language and English, educational program
for students who are deaf and hard of hearing from pre-kindergarten
through high school.
SDSD's Outreach program began in the late 1970's providing direct
and non-direct services across the state. The Outreach program has
worked under a consultative model
for the past 30 years with offices in Rapid City, Pierre, Aberdeen,
and Sioux Falls. The Outreach program is an important link in the
education of rural South Dakota
children who are deaf and hard of hearing. SDSD currently employs
consultants who provide early intervention services for children and
their families along with information
shared with public and private schools on hearing loss, assistive
technology, language development, communication options, social
opportunities, and support in development
of Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP) and Individual
Educations Plans (IEP).
SDSD employs licensed audiologists who perform diagnostic
audiological evaluations at no cost for South Dakota children ages birth
to 21 or until they graduate from
high school. The SDSD mobile lab also brings audiological screening
and evaluation services to children throughout the state and is
available to assist in school screenings.
SDSD superintendents in conjunction with teachers and staff have
worked tirelessly to provide appropriate programs and services to meet
the needs of South Dakota children
and families. Today our focus remains the same: To provide quality
resources and support adapted to individual needs of children who are
deaf or hard of hearing to
help them become active, productive citizens.