South Dakota’s Tribute
This is a tribute to Sheila Hansen, the woman responsible for working with South Dakota students to create a series of biographical profiles to honor South Dakota Korean War casualties.
Sheila Groft Hansen, daughter of Marlin and Marilyn Groft, is a fifth-generation South Dakotan, raised on a family farm near Redfield. She graduated from Redfield High School and from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, as did her three brothers: Gordon, Travis, and Derek. She has taught in the Spearfish School District since 1989, first as a middle school English teacher and now as the middle school librarian and information literacy teacher. Sheila and her husband, David, a farm boy from Cresbard, have two children, Slade and Justice.
The birth of her children and a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1995 and to sites of former concentration/death camps in Europe in 1997 helped Sheila develop a more global perspective for her eighth grade English classroom. As a result, in 1999 she and her students created an authentic research and writing project, Fallen Sons and Daughters of South Dakota in WW II, where students started to transform an impersonal list of names into a highly personal series of biographical profiles to honor South Dakota’s casualties of WW II. In May of 2001, Sheila accepted an offer from then-Gov. William Janklow, to take a year’s leave of absence to complete the project. Therefore, during the 2001-2002 school year, Sheila served as the project’s state coordinator, working with teacher volunteers implementing the Fallen Sons project in 61 schools across South Dakota. In August of 2002, Sheila presented the State with more than 2,000 profiles that became a 6-volume book set released in January 2003 and is available for viewing at http://www.state.sd.us/military/VetAffairs/sdwwiimemorial/. An unprecedented and highly collaborative effort, Fallen Sons serves, among other things, as a proud symbol of what South Dakota’s students, teachers, schools, and communities are all about.
South Dakota Projects
In partnership with Gov. Rounds and various state agencies, Sheila is expanding the Fallen Sons project to include South Dakota’s fallen sons of Korea to coincide with the unveiling of a Korean War monument in Pierre. http://www.sheilaghansen.com/ to learn more about the project.
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