Desmond “Desi” Keller–RCAS 21st Century Program Director
I graduated with dual degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. Also, I am the oldest of five children and worked at a Montessori Daycare in highschool and really liked the non-traditional approach to education. After graduating from college and teaching Special Ed. for a year, I had the opportunity to begin working in a 21st Century Program and never looked back! In my position as director, the day-to-day is always different, but mainly consists of keeping up-to-date on licensing for all of our programs–from hiring staff to documenting training hours to continually engaging with families and staff. The fun part is socializing with the students and watching them relax and have fun in the after school programs.
I love that we never know what little thing we will do that a student will remember and say later was a game changer for them in their life. It really isn’t the subjects that we teach, it’s building the relationships and guiding those relationships to build character in our students that really is exciting for me. When I’m not at work, I like to run, mountain bike, and snowboard to be active. I enjoy fishing, reading, and gardening to relax.
Erin Hughes–General Beadle Site Coordinator
I’m a mom to two teenagers and previously worked as an activities assistant at a nursing home. In my role as site coordinator at General Beadle Discovery Center, I make sure everyone feels welcomed and loved. We’re teaching our future adults to be amazing people! I feel excited about meeting new children every year and getting to know their new personalities. When I’m not at work I enjoy fishing with my two boys and my dad, and playing darts with my friends.
- Quote: “This too shall pass.”
- Activity in Elementary School: Playing checkers
- Book: A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive
- Movie: “Nacho Libre”
Kaitlin Brown–Knollwood Site Coordinator
I have an Elementary Education degree from the University of Wyoming. Previously, I worked at Youth and Family Services for almost four years and as an enrollment advisor at National American University. At Knollwood Discovery Center, I am responsible for lesson planning, setting up the day, and doing reports. The fun happens once the kiddos arrive–no two days are alike! In general, we pick up our students after school, feed them a snack, and then go outside for recess. Then we do 30-minute rotations of P.E., iPad time, and a center activity based in math or literacy.
I love the cute and sometimes very goofy compliments that the kids give each other and to me. They make me want to live up to the image that they have of me in their minds. When I’m not at work I enjoy hiking and time at my family’s cabin in Spearfish Canyon. I also love any excuse to cook or bake for family and friends.
- Quote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”–Robert Frost
- Activity in Elementary School: Parachute day!!!
- Movie: Gone with the Wind
Malachi Nelson–Discover the Valley Site Coordinator
I have been working for the Discovery Center program for seven years. I volunteered for Discovery for two years before that. I go to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology majoring in computer engineering and will be receiving my degree after one more semester. In my role as site coordinator, I make sure that the staff have everything that they need and make sure the program has all the things that it needs. I work with parents to further their child’s learning and school life. I work on social media outreach, and I also communicate with the schools and make sure that we have a healthy communication network. I also watch the children to ensure that they are learning and playing in a safe way.
I love the ability to help show kids the way to something that they love. I want every child to find something that they love to do. When I’m not working, I love writing and reading. I love writing books and reading books. I enjoy bringing ideas from all sorts of media–from video games to musical theater!
- Quote: “I’d rather make mistakes than make nothing at all.”
- Activity in Elementary School: I loved to read in school. Fantasy stories were always my preferred type of book.
- Book: The Sword of Destiny
- Movie: “Spirited Away”
- Podcast: Critical Roll
Relepha Laughlin–Horace Mann Site Coordinator
I have three years of previous employment with the Discovery Center program as a front-line staff member. I was also a preschool teacher for seven years and have a CDA in preschool and several hours of training pertaining to child care. On a day-to-day basis at Horace Mann Discovery Center, I plan activities and games, get snack ready, and visit with staff about the day, as well as visit with families and children. I also do lots and lots of paperwork, and I have fun!
I really like the moments when a kid figures something out–when they really understand it and they are glowing and happy about it! When I’m not at work, I enjoy time with my family camping, going to the lake, hiking, driving through the hills, and sometimes I just enjoy lazy days at home.
- Quote: “They may forget what you said, but will not forget how you made them feel.”–Carl Buehner
- Activity in Elementary School: I liked to do math and play outside.
- Movie: “Ten Things I Hate About You”