Hope Springs Eternal

April 12, 2022

From the window view of my desk, I can see the Big Sioux River thawing. Already I have seen more joggers and bikers frequenting the river walk, and I myself have enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather.

Additionally, the great Canadian geese will soon be joined by Mallards, wood ducks, and American coots. They will walk and swim, side by side, caring for their young and finding food among the grass and within the river’s depths.

It goes without saying that spring is definitely the season of hope…hope for prosperity, perseverance, rebirth, new beginnings. And as our mild winter comes to an end, we find our classrooms are changing. New students are arriving, fresh from war-torn countries or long-term refugee camps. They are filled with hope and determination to make this new community, new city, new country theirs. They seek to learn about their new culture, to make friendships, to survive in this new world.

We here at Center for New Americans continue to hope and strive for a better world for our clients. Case workers scramble to find homes and jobs, greet new arrivals at the airport, help families enroll children in schools. The teachers painstakingly plan lessons, work with the students so that they can learn English at an accelerated pace. Everyone works together. Everyone works hard. Everyone looks toward the future with hope and anticipation. Hope is our mantra.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Strengthening Teachers Across the State

March 29, 2022

This past month LSS Center for New Americans was host to teachers from across the state and from Sioux Falls as they worked on professional development.  The English Language Instructor Development Program (ELIDP) training yields the English as a Second Language Instructor Credential for the State of South Dakota.  This program is funded through the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. 

This professional development has three phases. 

Phase I:  Participants have 26 hours of face-to-face training during which they discuss topics such as language acquisition, cultural and communication dynamics in the classroom, refugee resettlement, and working with adult English language learners, among others.  During this phase, participants also have hands on experience in the ESL classrooms at the Center for New Americans, working closely with one of the knowledgeable instructors in their classrooms, receiving coaching in both teaching and lesson planning. 

Phase II:  After reflecting on teaching practices and researching best practices, participants implement Action Research in their own classrooms. 

Phase III:  Participants present their Action Research at the annual Summer Summit Conference each July. 

Upon completion of all 3 phases, participants are eligible for state credentialing.

I was able to interview Sarah Jones, one of our newest instructors at the Center for New Americans.  Here is what she had to say about her experience ELIDP.

What was your best takeaway from IDP?

My best takeaway from IDP was the feedback I received while working with my mentor. The simple strategies and techniques we discussed and practiced are ideal for creating a more student-centered learning environment.

How do you think IDP will help you in the classroom?

I think the various strategies and learning activities we discussed both in our group sessions and in the individual discussions with my mentor will help in my classroom. These discussions provided several ideas for increasing student engagement, and their implementation will result in more opportunities for students practice what they are learning.

How do you think the experience of meeting other ESL teachers from across the state could be beneficial?

I think meeting and collaborating with teachers from other programs is always beneficial, as it provides the opportunity to learn what strategies other teachers have found to be helpful in their classrooms and brainstorm ways to implement those strategies in your own classroom.

Are you excited to plan and implement your Action Research?  How do you predict your Action Research affecting your classroom?

I look forward to planning and implementing my Action Research, and I predict that the implementation of more research-based strategies will positively impact student learning and success.

As a former participant in the ELIDP myself and a mentor, this program is a great way meet new teachers, refresh on proven strategies, and improve teaching skills.  So thank you very much South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation for providing this great opportunity!

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Fire Safety – It’s Everyone’s Job to Be Prepared!

March 22, 2022

This month we have been discussing fire safety in our classes. Though not always the most exciting of topics, it is an important thing to review with students so they, and their families, can be prepared in an emergency. In our lower-level speaking classes, we are reviewing how to call 911 to report a fire and tell the emergency responders the address. In our higher-level speaking classes, we are making fire-escape plans that students can use to get out of their homes if there is a fire. We are also discussing heating and how to safely use fireplaces and space heaters.

Our reading classes are also hard at work studying fire safety. In our lower-level classes, we are learning to read and write fire-safety-related words such as smoke, alarm, escape, batteries, heater and many more. Our higher-level classes are writing out the steps of the students’ fire escape plans using sequencing words such as first, next, then and finally. Additionally, the highest level classes are reading about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to learn about American history and the importance of fire safety.

Here are some of the most important fire safety tips our students have learned:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom of your home, in the hallways outside of the sleeping areas and near (but not in) the kitchen. Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every floor.
  • Test all the smoke alarms once a month to make sure they are working. Change the batteries in the alarms twice a year.
  • Contact the Volunteer Helpline by dialing 211 should you need a free smoke alarm.
  • Never use the stove/oven for heat. Use a space heater!
  • Keep the stove free of oil and don’t place flammable objects like tea towels or potholders on the stove or under the oven.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable things like paper, clothing, hair, animals and people!
  • Make a fire escape plan. Make sure that when possible, there are at least 2 ways out of every room.
  • Practice the plan with your family during the day and at night.

Kate Harris ESL Instructor & Career Navigator

Pronouns: she/her/hers

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103


Celebrate “Read Across America” Day!

March 2, 2022

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, We Belong and With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero, three books recommend by the NEA for Read Across America.

Though warm, spring weather is (hopefully) on its way to South Dakota, we are still in the midst of chilly, winter days. In my opinion, the best antidote to the cold weather is staying inside with a delicious cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a great book. From my couch in Sioux Falls, I can be transported to any place and any point in time by getting lost in a book. It turns out, this week is a great time to hunker down and read: Wednesday, March 2, is Read Across America Day.

Started by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998, Read Across America Day is a celebration of reading and the joys it brings. Its aims are to encourage children and teens by sponsoring events, partnerships and resources that reflect the diversity of today’s readers. The NEA feels it is important to have books that students can, “see themselves reflected in, as well as books that allow readers to see a world or a character that might be different than them.” (https://www.nea.org/resource-library/read-across-america-frequently-asked-questions).

Though aimed at children and teenagers, there is value in Read Across America Day for readers of all ages and levels. As our own students at the Center for New Americans grow in their literacy, we hope that they too will be able to read and celebrate along with their families.

Check out a few of the books that the NEA is recommending for Read Across America Day this March:

  1. Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston by Alicia Williams (for elementary school-age readers)
  2. We Belong by Cookie Hiponia Everman (for middle school-age readers)
  3. With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero by Margarita Engle (for young adults)

To learn more, go to https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america

Kate Harris: ESL Instructor & Career Navigator

Pronouns: she/her/hers

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Voices from the Past Speak to Us Today

February 23, 2022

When moving to a new country, one thing that can sometimes be overlooked is learning about the history of that country. This is understandable; immigrants already have so much to learn and adjust to from language to culture to laws that history can sometimes be lost in the mix. I feel, however, that history informs our current culture and society and thus is not simply something irrelevant from the past but a living, breathing component of life in the United States today. Last month was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this month is Black History Month. In our classes, we have been learning about some of the struggles and triumphs of notable Black Americans and how they impact us today.
In our classes, we discussed Martin Luther King Jr. and his work in the Civil Rights Movement. In some of the classes, students watched part of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches. One student was enthralled by Dr. King’s words and energy and excitedly quipped, “He speaks very passionately!” We also discussed Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
In one class, the students learned about a lesser known Black American: George Washington Carver. Carver, born into slavery in 1859, was a scientist, inventor and agriculturalist. Carver is probably best remembered for discovering more than 300 different uses for the peanut plant but he also studied fungi and soybeans. His talent and genius were sought after by many notable people, but Carver was committed to his goal: helping southern farmers. He turned down many lucrative job offers to focus on this goal. Our students found this very interesting. One of our ESL teachers, Diana Calvetti-Streleck, noted, “The students were impressed by Carver’s focus on his goal and that he didn’t let money get in the way of his goal.”
Like Dr. King, Parks, Carver and countless others, our students have goals, hopes, struggles and dreams. Although times change and society changes, people of the past still resonate with us because the human experience never changes. In my students’ lives and in the world there are still mountains to climb, injustices to fight and struggles to face but I hope that the lives and words of these incredible Americans of continue to live on and inspire our students.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver.

Kate Harris: ESL Instructor & Career Navigator
Pronouns: she/her/hers
LSS Center for New Americans
P: 605-731-2000 | F: 605-731-2059
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Christmas Celebrations From around the World – Reflections from CNA’s Staff

December 28, 2021

One of the wonderful things about working at the Center for New Americans is getting to interact with people from all different countries and cultures. In addition to our students and clients, we also have a diverse staff from many different countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Read below as a few of our staff members share Christmas traditions from their countries!

The Christkind, who brings gifts to German children on Christmas Eve.

Teacher Silke Hansen (Germany) – “In Germany, our main celebration day is on December 24th. In my family, Christmas Eve is when we put up the Christmas tree and we always had a real tree! Most workers have the 25th and 26th off to visit with family and friends (usually family on the 25th and friends on the 26th).  Presents are delivered not by Santa Claus but by an angelic figure called Christkind on Christmas Eve. In my family, after dinner on December 24th, my siblings and I would go upstairs to our bedrooms while Christkind (AKA: mom and dad) put gifts under the tree. After this, they would ring the doorbell and run upstairs to our rooms asking, “Did you hear the door? Do you think the Christkind came to visit?” Then we would race downstairs to open our gifts! We usually ate a light supper on Christmas Eve and had our big meal on Christmas Day. We normally ate Rouladen (meat stuffed with onions, pickles and bacon), Mehlknoedel (dumplings) and red cabbage with gravy.”

An igitenge worn by many Congolese women.

Caseworker Tez Kiruhura (Democratic Republic of the Congo) – “Christmas back home is different than Christmas here. In my family, we eat fufu (a porridge made from cassava), rice, lots of meat (goat, beef and chicken) and we drink soda and milk. We gather together as a family to eat and give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. It’s traditional that everyone gets new clothes on Christmas. Women usually wear an igitenge (dress) made of bright, multicolored fabric and matching head scarf made of same fabric. There is not always money for gifts but if there is, we exchange them on Christmas. Going to church is an important tradition. We go to church on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday closest to Christmas. It’s always three days because that represents the resurrection of Jesus. There is usually a guest preacher for these church services.”

Shoes stuffed with surprises after a visit from St. Nicolas.

Caseworker Lilly Jasarovic (Bosnia/Serbia) – “Christmas is similar to what it is here in America. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on the January 7th, not December 25th. Bosnia is very religiously diverse and it’s common for Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims to go to church to celebrate on January 7th. For Christmas dinner, the meal always starts with plum brandy. Many people eat beef and noodle soup, cabbage rolls, Trappista cheese, pickled vegetables, strudels and cakes. One Orthodox tradition is to make a special loaf of bread with a coin, a heart-shaped token, a tree branch and other objects placed inside. Families bake and then cut the bread and whoever finds a certain object is supposed to receive a special blessing in the New Year. The coin brings success, the heart brings love and the branch brings health. Another fun tradition that children enjoy is St. Nicolas’ Day on December 19. According to tradition, on this day, Saint Nicolas leaves sweets and small toys in the shoes of children.”

Kate Harris  ESL Instructor & Career Navigator 

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

Winter Safety 101

December 7, 2021

Yikes!  A high of 12 degrees today!?  So this morning I begrudgingly put leggings on under my pants, pulled on my heavy socks, layered my shirts, wore my warmest driving gloves, and wrapped my neck with a scarf before heading out to the cold air.

I am prepared for the winter cold (and have in fact survived many decades of winters) but what about my new refugee students?  Not so much!  They were hoping that the weather doesn’t get any colder than 40s…such a harsh awakening!

As South Dakotans, we know the season.  Community-wide jacket drives for children abound.  On TV the summer ads have been replaced with sweaters and parkas.  The lawnmowers have been put away and replaced by snow blowers, the deck furniture has been overturned, the garden is barren, and the trees have barely a leaf left as the remaining few crunch under our feet. 

And although we have not hit the coldest month of the year yet, students are bundling up in parkas and scarves and winter boots.  They are telling me that it is COLD, and are in disbelief that the weather could possibly get any colder.  I sorrowfully have to inform them that the weather does indeed get much colder here in South Dakota. 

I truly had to look and know for myself the temperatures my students are used to.  Using weather-atlas.com I found the average January temperatures for several of my students’ warm climate countries.  South Sudan has a high of 98.2° F and a LOW of 68.2° F!  El Salvador, close to the equator, has a high of 87.1° F and a low of 66.9°F, and the coolest country I looked up was mountainous Nepal at 66.4° F and 36.3°F.  Balmy South Dakota, on the other hand, has a high of 23.4° F and a low of -9.7° F in January.

And that is the crux of the matter.  My new students have never experienced snow and actual sub-zero temperatures.  My students don’t know what mittens are or that we need to dress in layers.  They don’t know how slippery the ice is nor how bitter the wind becomes.  And so every year, we discuss tips on staying warm.  Here are a few basic ones all my students need to learn.

Tips for Dressing in the Winter:

  • Layer your clothes.
  • Choose tight fitting clothing to prevent air.
  • Choose long coats over short.
  • Invest in hat, mittens/gloves, and a scarf.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.

Do you know someone who needs a winter coat?  Want to Donate a coat?

  • St. Francis House: Keep Warm Keloland  
  • The Salvation Army: Coats For All  
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Center of Hope
  • St. Vincent de Paul
  • Good Will of the Great Plains

Hope you all stay warm this winter!

Written by Heather Glidewell

Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2041  |  T:  800-2422447  |  C: 605-743-0706  |  F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103


Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities

What Are We Teachers Thankful For?

November 30, 2021

As we prepared for time with family and friends this past week, consuming the proverbial turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, I thought about my gratitude for my job and my students. I am so thankful to be a teacher of Adult English Learners at the LSS Center for New Americans. I am thankful for our students who consistently awe me with their strength, persistence, and determination. I asked my fellow teachers to share what they are thankful for.  Here is what they shared:

I am thankful for my students’ unique perspectives and life experience, their willingness to help one another, and their energy and enthusiasm.


I’m thankful for our students’ patience when we have technical issues.  They are so understanding and gracious!  I’m also thankful for our great coworkers – they are my friends as well as coworkers.  I guess LSS attracts nice people!


I appreciate our students’ eagerness both to learn about English and American culture, and also their willingness to share about their own language and culture.


I am grateful that our students want to be in classes, and want to work hard to learn! It is so wonderful to teach students like that!  I am grateful we have a way to have class with both in-person students and Zoom students.  I’m grateful for the times we laugh and have fun in class!


I am thankful for the courage, persistence and strengths our students show every day.  I am thankful for the upgrade in technology which allowed the teachers to better serve the students.  I am thankful for the awesome co-workers at the Center for New Americans.


I’m thankful for the laughter I get to share with the students. It’s the best thing that accelerates our learning.  I’m thankful for people I get to work with. They are my teachers! Because of them, I can be a better person and keep growing as a citizen of the world.  Thank you for letting me share!


Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Volunteer of the Year: 2021

October 26, 2021

Karen: LSS 2021 Volunteer of the Year

The English classrooms at the Center for New Americans rely heavily on the support and expertise of volunteers. Volunteers aid the teacher in classroom management (both online and in person), assist one-on-one tutoring, lead classroom and small group activities, and provide support to the teachers in numerous ways.

Each year the Education Program has the opportunity to honor one of our hardworking volunteers and nominate them for the Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award for LSS of SD. This past week, our nominee, Karen Kraus, was recognized at the 2021 Distinguished Volunteer of the Year.

Here’s her nomination:
Karen Kraus started volunteering at the LSS Center for New Americans on 12/14/2016. Since her first day she has provided 460 hours of ESL classroom help for our adult Refugee and Immigrant students.

She has worked with all the English class levels and has also tutored one-to-one a student who had no prior literacy with the challenging task of learning to decode. Karen has been an amazing volunteer – flexible and consistent – in supporting the Education Program at LSS.

When the pandemic closed our in-person classrooms, she reached out to her assigned teacher to see how she could still help. While volunteers typically work once a week for two hours, she joined the online students in Zoom every day until other volunteers could be trained. At the training meetings, she was able to speak with the other volunteers, answering their questions about how it felt to assist in Zoom. She encouraged them to jump in and continue to help out even if they could not see the student due to technology challenges. She spoke about how the students still needed their volunteers more than ever in the Zoom Classrooms.

Karen brings amazing qualities and skills to our English Language Classes at LSS. Patient, insightful and collaborative – Karen communicates clearly and effectively with true beginners. She is a talented co-teacher in any classroom and a treasured partner in the team effort that is equipping our adult English learners with knowledge of the language, literacy and the content they need to communicate and succeed as new residents of South Dakota.

Here are a few of Karen’s insights about volunteering at LSS Center for New Americans.

What are some of your favorite memories from working with a student/in class?
I especially have enjoyed the following experiences:

o Assisting a student who just sounded out a word and seeing the big smile on their face!

o I love it when a joke is shared and understood even through our language barriers!

o The students call all of us “Teacher.” I can tell it is a term of honor by the way they say it.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at CNA?
For me, it feels like an honor to be a small part of an English Language Learners’ journey. I strongly encourage anyone who might be interested to give this a try. The classroom teachers will first ask you to observe, then will give you direction on how to work directly with students. It’s a chance to meet people from other cultures, right here in Sioux Falls. I learn so much. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it allows me to volunteer in a meaningful way.

Would YOU like to join our team as a classroom volunteer?
Contact diana.streleck@lsssd.org
Apply Here

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Xcel Energy Helps Immigrants Excel in Sioux Falls

September 28, 2021
Students participate in a hybrid classroom

LSS Center for New Americans once again received a generous grant from Xcel Energy. This grant has helped to provide classes that prepare students to enter the workforce. The project, called Career Literacy for Refugees and Immigrants, teaches students career readiness skills such as critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, leadership and digital literacy. The project also provides instruction in the four major language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. These skills help students find jobs, advance in their current jobs or find jobs that match the skills and training they had before they came to the U.S. Many of our students have gone on to get and excel in jobs in production, manufacturing, industry, customer service and other areas.

One unique feature of these classes is that they use the hybrid model of instruction in which there are some students learning online and some students learning inperson simultaneously. This model enables students to come to class and learn in a way that best suits them, their schedules, and learning preferences. It also provides equity for students who do not have the skills or resources to participate in Zoom instruction. Each LSS classroom is equipped with an OWL (combination camera/speaker/microphone) that allows online students to see and hear their in-person classmates and vice versa. Students have been very receptive to the model, often joking and having conversations between online and in-person students.  In one recent class, a student joining class online for the day instantly recognized the voice of an in-person student; the two students immediately starting chatting like old friends. Interactions like this warm the hearts of our instructors and build community in the hybrid model.

Xcel Energy provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices.

The company also supports communities and local community organizations in four major areas: STEM education, workforce development, environmental protection and stewardship and arts and culture. Xcel Energy has partnered with LSS for seventeen years and specifically with the Center for New Americans for the past twelve years.

Thank you to Xcel Energy for your generosity, compassion and commitment to our students. We are thrilled to see our students “xcel” thanks to your sponsorship!

Kate Harris  ESL Instructor & Career Navigator 

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103


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