sanford width=

Northwest Salmon




Governor appoints Wagner to state

Board of Education

by Amanda Fanger

A mathematics educator from Webster was recently appointed by the governor of South Dakota to serve on the state Board of Education.

Lori Wagner accepted the position when she received an email last month from the office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

“It is truly an honor to be asked to serve in this capacity. The teaching profession has been very good to me and I’ve had such wonderful students and colleagues over the years. When I received this email, I saw it as a way to give back to the profession that has given so much to me,” she said. “I will do what I feel is in the best interest of the students of our state. After all, there is nothing more important to our future than them.”

Wagner is an award-­winning math teacher who now shares her knowledge through the Northern State University Center for Statewide E-Learning program where she is considered a Master Teacher of Mathematics. Prior to that, she taught at Webster Area High School for 15 years, was at Roslyn for a year and started her career in Waubay, where she taught and coached for 11 years. She has been a distance educator, serving high school math students throughout the state for about a year now and currently teaches Algebra II and Pre-Calculus.

Outside of her time away while attending college, Wagner has lived in Webster most of her life. She is a Webster High School graduate who went on to receive her bachelors degree in Education, Mathematics from NSU in 1989. Wagner earned her masters in Education, Teaching and Learning from NSU last year.

It was while helping classmates with math problems in junior high and high school that Wagner discovered her love of teaching.

“I am a type A personality who likes organization and structure; both of those things go hand in hand with mathematics,” Wagner said. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and it seemed a natural fit for me to go into mathematics education.”

This appointment came as a surprise, Wagner said.

“I received an email in late January asking if I would be willing to serve,” she said. Although she wasn’t sure how the governor knew of her, but since she has presented to the Senate Education Committee on Common Core Math Standards and was a finalist for the South Dakota Teacher of the Year in 2014, she thinks she may have been nominated for the position by those she worked with in each of those capacities.

Over the course of her career, Wagner has won a number of awards. She was named Webster School District Teacher of the Year twice (2005-06 and 2013-14); she was Region Teacher of the Year in 2014, qualifying her as one of six finalists for the 2014 state Teacher of the Year; in 2013, she was one of three finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching; and just a few weeks ago she received the South Dakota Outstanding Mathematics Teacher Award, sponsored by Daktronics.

She interjected, “I feel my greatest award/reward comes from the words of former students who feel that I’ve made a difference in their lives. Whether it was in preparing them for college, encouraging them to use their talents and pursue professions in the math field or bringing a level of understanding to students who otherwise didn’t like or didn’t do well in math classes. They are the true testament to what happens in my classroom each and every day and the ones who really matter the most.”

As a member of the Board of Education, Wagner said it’s their job to “listen to, understand and translate the concerns of a variety of stakeholders into educational policies. Our job is to ensure every child has an opportunity to learn from certified school staff and teachers at the local level and post-secondary technical institutes. There is a responsibility to set standards and expectations for the quality of education through the establishment of graduation requirements, accreditation of local schools, certification of professionals and approval of programs offered by post-secondary institutes and teacher education programs.”

Although Wagner is happy to serve, she said it’s all about doing what’s right for the kids.

“I think all students can learn and there are many ways to make this happen,” she said. “I try to show my students respect and that I care about them. This sets the foundation for a relationship with students and allows them to see why I love my profession and the subject matter so much. When I do this, I hope the trust falls into place and all walls come down, allowing students to feel a desire to learn.”

Wagner said she believes in the power of an education and in the freedom to pursue one’s dreams that an education provides.

“I do all I can to help my students see this and live it,” she said.

Send your news stories or suggestions to

Fiksdal Funeral Home

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player