Is 34% Good?

October 19, 2016

In the most recent data on volunteering and service, it shows that 34% of adults in South Dakota volunteer. While that sounds like a not very high percent, our state ranks 9th in the country for being the most active in volunteering.

At LSS Mentoring, we strive to get a diverse group of volunteers. We want mentors to represent students as a whole – not just the 34% of adults who volunteer. So…we dug into our data to paint a picture of who is mentoring right now.

LSS Mentors…

  • Range from age 18 to 89
  • Work at 290 different businesses
  • 65% are female
  • 20% live in the 57106 zip code
  • Have mentored an average of 4.3 years
  • Are all amazing and unique in the eyes of the student they mentor!

There is not one perfect mentor – anyone who has the time (just one lunch hour a week!) and the heart can do it. Please answer the call and volunteer today. Be a revolutionary in the Sioux Empire! Applications are available here.


5 Reasons You Should Become a Classroom Assistant

October 14, 2016

Today, we share 5 reasons why you should become a classroom volunteer and help the new students!

Reason 1 – Travel the world! (while staying in Sioux Falls) – In our classrooms, we have students from across the globe learning together. One moment you may be sitting next to a former doctor from Russia, the next reading with a farmer from Ethiopia. You’ll be able to see and learn about the culture of other countries without paying the cost of travelling or feeling the effects of jet lag – could it be easier?

Level 4 Students learning about US Universities

Level 4 Students learning about US Universities

Reason 2 – Make new friends – The students see our volunteers as both teachers and friends. While you’re here be prepared to hear choruses of “Teacher, Teacher! Guess what?” and “Teacher, my sister is coming to Sioux Falls; I bring her to meet you!” and even “Teacher, I made this cake for you.”

Reason 3 – Help fulfill dreams – Many of our students were unable to attend school in their homeland as a child due to war and violence. Now that they are here, they have the chance to. You can help by practicing flashcards and having conversations with them!

Reason 4 – Learn something new! – Not only can you learn about other cultures but you might learn more about America too. As one volunteer said, “I couldn’t believe what they have to know [for citizenship]! I couldn’t answer any of their questions!” Volunteering in a citizenship class is great way to brush up on your civics knowledge. Stun your friends with all the information you have!

Teaching gets physical when learning action words like "unconscious"

Teaching gets physical when learning action words like “unconscious”

Reason 5 – It’s fun and easy – You don’t have to be an expert to volunteer. We’re just looking for encouraging and welcoming individuals to help our students learn English. We laugh and joke while we teach in our classrooms. Just try not to smile while you’re here!

So if you’re looking to have fun, give back, and learn more about the world, become a classroom assistant! Sign up today to begin volunteering or call 605-731-2009 for more information!


Kristyne Walth, Volunteer Coordinator, Center for New Americans

When a Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

October 12, 2016

img_2384LSS recently completed its Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Community Appeals Committee-approved capital campaign, The Campus on East Bank Campaign.

This campaign ran from April 1 through July 31 of this year. It was chaired by Fred Sluneka, Chief Operating Officer, Avera Health, and Tom Dempster, Director, IFAM Capital and Chair of the LSS Governing Board of Directors. The goal was to raise $1,250,000. Nine team captains and more than 90 volunteers solicited the Sioux Falls business community for their financial support for this important project.

As of this day, $1,256,603 has been raised or committed to the LSS Campus on East Bank by the Sioux Falls business community.

One of those who made an early commitment to support the Campus on East Bank was Midco. On October 11,2016 Dan Nelson, Midco Director of Government Affairs, presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to Betty Oldenkamp, LSS, President/CEO, and Bill Peterson, Vice President LSS Development & Foundation. The presentation was made on the site of the LSS Campus on East Bank.

We want to say a special thank you to Dan, Midco and all the Sioux Falls businesses who are making the new campus a reality for LSS.

Bill Peterson, Vice President
LSS Development & Foundation

Steps to Prep for Christmas….Already

October 11, 2016


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….
Every where you go….
Take a look in the five-and-ten….
Glistening once again….
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow….

Sorry to do it to you so early, but you know you didn’t just read the words.  Come on, admit it, you were singing along.  And now I’ll agree as we both argue, “IT’S WAY TOO EARLY!”  But it’s coming and you can’t deny it.  The other argument I’m going to make is that you may not want to deny it.  Rather, embrace it.  Embrace it now. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the Match: Jim and Gabe

October 10, 2016

A few years ago, a school counselor wrote us a note saying that a staff members husband would make angabe amazing mentor for a student at John Harris. He applied and the past three years have been full of fun for his mentee, Gabe.

Gabe loves Star Wars, movies, superheroes, art and playing board games. The two have done all of those things and more, include building model x-wings and TIE fighters (those are Star Wars vehicles if you didn’t know!) – something they hope to do more of this school year.

Gabe first found out about mentoring when his twin sister would share stories about all of the fun she had with her mentor. He was a little sad that he did not have someone at school too. Now, he’s happy he has Jim visit him every Friday. “He makes me feel good,” said Gabe.

Jim, who is known in Sioux Falls for portraying a character who loves to “Dream Big and Never Give Up” enjoys hanging out with Gabe. He definitely carries that attitude with him in mentoring and wants Gabe to do just that.

As for mentoring, Jim says, “It’s low stress. I don’t need to solve problems. I just get to connect and talk.” He has built his visit into his schedule each week and says it was not difficult to do so. “We both benefit from spending time together,” said Jim.

Like so many young boys say about their mentor, Gabe had to share, “Jim is just awesome!” These two are ready to take on the 2016-17 school year!

“Learn More English, Teacher!”

October 5, 2016

0919161857a-1This week my students are discussing what it takes to achieve a goal. In particular, we are discussing their common goal “of communicating better in English. Communication involves not only speech, but also reading, writing, and listening. 

Every one of my students comes to me with the desire to “learn more English.”  Some of my students have only been in the United States for a week, while others have been here 5, 7, 10, sometimes 20 years. Some of my students have university degrees and others never held a pencil until they came to America. Some of my students only speak one other language while others speak 5 to 8 different languages. Each student has a different story, but each one has the challenge of English language acquisition.


How long does it take to learn a second (or third or fourth or fifth…) language?

For a personal perspective on this question, I talked with my co-worker, Rihoko Colwill, about her experience with English language acquisition. She said, “After 3 years I managed very basic conversation, and probably after 6 years, I felt comfortable within the vocabulary that I knew.”

On average, it takes a child 7 years to master basic grammar and 7 to 15 years to master academic language.

Learning a language also requires integration into every aspect of life and a working vocabulary of 3000 words to effectively communicate.

An adult learner may experience many challenges such as a busy family life, demands of a job, poor health, interruption in English education, and/or lack of previous formal education.

What are the stages of language acquisition?

Students learning a second language move through five predictable stages:

  • Preproduction (listening and understanding)
  • Early Production (one to two word utterances)
  • Speech Emergence (phrases)
  • Intermediate Fluency (simple sentences, etc)
  • Advanced Fluency (more complex English) (Krashen & Terrell, 1983).

How quickly students progress through the stages depends on many factors, including level of formal education, family background, and length of time spent in the country.


What does it take to achieve the goal of “better English”?

My students rose to the challenge this week. This is what they collectively said:

“I want to communicate better in English. So I need to go to English class. In English class, I will practice by reading, writing, speaking, and listening to English. I also need to practice English outside of class. I can read a book to my child. I can listen to English TV or watch an English movie. I can also speak with a friend who doesn’t speak my language.”

My students see English as a goal for their future. They know how important it is in every aspect of their lives, and they are working hard to realize their goal. My students are my heroes!

Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

School Attendance & How You Can Help

October 4, 2016

Did you know that when a student misses two days of school each month, or around 18 days a year, they untitledare considered chronically absent? It may not seem like much, but missing two days each month accounts for about 10% of their school year. Nationally, one out of every ten students falls into the category of being chronically absent.

When students miss school, they miss opportunities to learn and the important interactions that occur with school staff and students that can’t be replaced or made up. While many  certainly miss a day here or there due to illness, it is important to make sure missing school does not become a habit.

We know that LSS Mentors make a difference when it comes to attendance. One counselor recently said, “when I look at a student’s attendance and they have a mentor, usually I can count on the students being at school on mentor day.” Kids love to see their mentor and don’t want to miss their weekly meeting.

To help encourage attendance, mentors can talk about the importance of school as well as point out all of the fun and good that comes from being in school every day.

The Sioux Falls School District has made attendance a priority this year. They believe that as attendance rates increase, students outcomes and performance and ultimately their success in school will increase too.

If you would like to help students by mentoring, please apply today.

%d bloggers like this: