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Family, Community, and Impact in South Dakota

These Teach For America alumni taught and led in South Dakota's Pine Ridge Native community, where they found family and deeper purpose while expanding their students' sense of possibility. 

October 24, 2018

Our Tiospaye // Our Family

South Dakota's reservations are too often defined by deficit narratives. Poverty, unemployment, substance abuse--these themes obscure the profound relationships and rich cultural legacies that are the heart of life in Indian country. This is the story of three Pine Ridge-bound educators who arrived with radically disparate perspectives on the place. Shaped by the contours of the land, the support of their communities, and the strength of their students, each discovered a deeper purpose.

"They don't need us to save them. They just need us to believe in them," Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota '10) says in this powerful video, which follows three Teach For America South Dakota alumni as they reflect on their experiences in the corps and the years since. Having made a lifelong commitment to their students, they came to Pine Ridge to have an impact, but also found themselves changed by the sense of community they found and the potential they saw in their students.  "It's changed my DNA. I am going to be doing this work for the rest of my life," Drew Madson (South Dakota '10) says in the video.

This video was produced by Universe Creative in partnership with Teach For America South Dakota.

  • Directed by Scott Faris & Meg Griffiths
  • Produced by Meg Griffiths
  • Shot and cut by Scott Faris