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From the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center, the Fam Jam brings together schools, families, and community members to discuss tricky topics in supporting students.
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The Fam Jam is a podcast about family engagement... but what exactly is "family engagement?" That's the tricky topic that Morgan and Dana tackle in the kickoff episode for season 2. Hear from experts and long time advocates about what it is and why it's so important for student success. 


  • Lori Laughlin
    SDSFEC Co-Project Director with West River Foundation
  • Rhonda Kludt
    Tiger Afterschool Program Coordinator and retired Kindergarten Teacher for Huron School District
  • Stephanie Owens
    Former President of South Dakota PTA

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Summer Slide is the tricky topic for May's episode of the Fam Jam. It's an informal term for summer learning loss or when students regress in skills from the end of one school year and the start of another. In this episode, hear from a great panel of guests about how to keep kids learning over the summer and have fun while they're doing it!


  • Josh Thomas
    3rd grade teacher at Sioux Falls Garfield Elementary
  • Lindsay Hammer
    Mother of four from Brookings
  • Karla Johnson
    Executive Director of South Dakota Afterschool Network
  • Katie Wiedrich
    School Program Coordinator at Outdoor Campus West
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The transition out of high school is just as important as the transition into elementary school. As students near the end of their K-12 journey, they can feel underprepared and overwhelmed if they don't have a plan and supports in place. In this month's episode of the The Fam Jam, Morgan and Dana visit with professionals and a university student to discuss the tricky topic of Post-Secondary Transition.


  • Melissa Miller Kincart
    Director of Strategic Partnerships and College and Career Readiness at Rapid City Area Schools
  • Kendra Burshiem
    High School Counselor/Transition Counselor at Flandreau Indian School
  • KC Burshiem
    High School Counselor at Flandreau Indian School
  • Brittney Huschka
    Recruiter at Western Dakota Technical College
  • Keeza Leavens
  • Former Rapid City Central Student and Current Student at University of Montana
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Starting kindergarten can be a very stressful for both parents and children. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help all families be successful in transitioning their children into kindergarten and starting their school-based learning journey. Early education experts and a parent join Morgan and Dana as they dive into the tricky topic of Kindergarten Transition.


  • Jodi Berscheid
    Head Start State Collaboration Director, South Dakota Department of Education
  • Darbi Hunt
    Birth to Five Learning Specialist, South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center
  • Sam Oviatt
    Parent of two from Rapid City
  • Melissa Crouch
    Kindergarten Teacher at South Canyon Elementary, Rapid City Area Schools
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For February, Dana and Morgan tackle the tricky topic of Community Partnerships. The community is a vital component to a successful school. Your neighbors, local businesses, support agencies, and more can provide crucial assistance to schools and families with money, time, and connections.  In this episode, Morgan and Dana learn about some successful community partnerships in South Dakota.


  • Dana Haukaas
    Principal at Todd County Middle School
  • Steve Hildebrand
    Founder of Promising Futures Fund
  • Heidi Gullickson
    Executive Director of Brookings Area United Way
  • Char Green-Maximo
    Mother and Chair of Sioux Falls Native American Day Parade
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January 5, 2021

Episode 05: Communication

This month Dana and Morgan discuss the tricky topic of communication. Effective school and family communication involves not only sending information to families, but also hearing from them about ideas, concerns, and hopes for their child.  In this episode, Morgan and Dana learn about how different schools and communities are communicating across South Dakota.


  • Shawnda Carmichael
    Principal at Lemmon Elementary 
  • Mercia Schroeder
    English as a New Language (ENL) Teacher for Plankinton Schools
  • Rachel Temple
    English Language Learner (ELL) Teacher for Rapid City Area Schools
  • Kristen Williamson
    Mother of three from Rapid City
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December 1, 2020

Episode 04: Mental Wellness

Dana and Morgan discuss the tricky topic of mental wellness. They discover what mental wellness means, and why we're struggling to help teens get the mental health supports they need. Hear from students, a school-based mental health provider, and a community advocate in this month's episode.


  • Claire
    SD High School student
  • Jayda
    SD High School student
  • Angelo
    Recent SD High School Graduate and current College Student
  • Sarah Zimmerman
    Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator for Rapid City Area Schools
  • Mallory Kloucek
    Ending the Silence Coordinator for NAMI South Dakota
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Dana and Morgan discuss the tricky topic of building relationships. They visit with families, educators, and advocates to learn why relationships are key to strong partnerships and how to cultivate them.


  • Janet Whiting
    High school teacher, parent, and foster parent from Porcupine
  • Carla Miller
    Executive Director of SD Parent Connection
  • Chabli Hodge
    Social Worker for Vermillion School District
  • Jeanne Burckhard-McKenna
    Whole Child Coordinator for Rapid City Area Schools
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Dana and Morgan discuss the tricky topic of parent/teacher conferences, examining the who, what, when, where, and what's next for this long established annual event in education.


  • Erica Boomsma
    4th Grade Teacher at Huron Washington Attendance Center
  • Dave Swank
    Principal at Canyon Lake Elementary
  • Robin Curtis
    Principal at Lyman Middle-High School
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September 10, 2020

Episode 01: Attendance

Dana and Morgan discuss the tricky topic of attendance to learn why coming to school is so important, what gets in the way, and what families and schools can learn from each other.


  • Jessa Zimmer
    1st grade teacher at Aberdeen Lincoln Elementary
  • Barb Hansen
    Principal of Tea Area Frontier Elementary
  • Amanda Diers
    Mom of three from Rapid City
  • Peyton
    10th grade student from Rapid City
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