Spearfish educator wins state science teacher honor

Charles “Chuck” Standen, of Spearfish High School, has been named the 2017 South Dakota Outstanding Physical Science Teacher.

He joined the school in 2000 and has taught physical science, integrated science, astronomy, geology, meteorology and computer science. Standen, a 1980 graduate of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is known for his commitment to students and for teaching relevant material interactively.q

The award was presented at the South Dakota Science Teachers’ Association gathering in Brookings Feb. 3. The award is funded by 3M Brookings, coordinated by the Department of Physics at South Dakota State University and sponsored by the science teachers’ association. Standen received a plaque and Spearfish High School receives $1,000 to support teaching efforts, such as purchasing equipment or funding participation at a conference.

In addition, noted science author Jearl Walker donated a signed copy of his book, “The Flying Circus of Physics,” to the winner.

Steve Morford, principal at Spearfish High School, said, “I have received comments from parents such as: ‘I loved how Mr. Standen was so positive with my son during his lab work in class. He excites my son with his classroom activities.’ This is representative of how Chuck is with all students.

Former student still impacted

A former student, Nate Rotert, now an SDSU senior and a member of the wrestling team, said, “Even being out of his classroom over four years, he still impacts me to this day without a physical presence. That is how powerful his impact is on his students. Not only did Mr. Standen make me a better student, he made me a better person.”

Standen said, “My role as an educator is not limited to a location because every encounter with a parent, student or former student is an opportunity to represent the best characteristic of science: an open-minded curiosity of the universe and the amazing structures, creatures and mysteries it contains.”

Standen earned in bachelor’s degree in geology. In 2000, he completed composite physical science education requirements from Black Hills State University, Spearfish.

Additional professional training includes participating in Physics of Atomic Nuclei, Research Experience for Teachers, Writing to Win, and SDEA Student Learning Objectives Bookcamp.

Chuck Standen, of Spearfish High School, was named South Dakota Outstanding Physical Science Teacher, at the science teachers association gathering in Brookings Feb. 3. The prize includes an autographed copy of Jearl Walker's "The Flying Circus of Physics.” 

Also a leader in Spearfish Education Association

In addition, Standen has served on the High School Curriculum Committee, the District Common Core Steering Committee, the District Assessment Team, the South Dakota Science Course Pathways group and the Science Leadership Cohort as well as being the lead negotiator for Spearfish Education Association.

Holly O’Dell, a fellow teacher, said, “In the mornings, Mr. Standen’s vehicle is in the parking lot more than an hour before school starts as he prepares for his day and makes himself available for those who have questions and need extra support, including his fellow teachers. Mr. Standen’s commitment to his students and his content is overwhelmingly evident as is his service to his profession. He is an honest but gentle and patient mentor for student teachers.

“He is active in SEA (Spearfish Education Association), leading the fight to support educators in pay increases, honoring continuing education and experience, and working to secure the best benefits possible for district faculty.

“He puts in countless hours researching and designing charts and arranging data so that even the laymen can see how teachers could be better taken care of in our district, so that we might attract the next generation of promising teachers as well as hold on to those who have so much experience to share with our community’s youth.”

39th year for award

This is the 39th year 3M has provided the award. Winners are selected based on success in motivating students, professional involvement and contributions, and recommendations of superiors, colleagues and students. The award alternates between large and small schools.

Last year’s winner was Janet M. Wagner, Bon Homme School, Tyndall. The previous large school winner was Laura Mehlbrech of Sioux Falls Washington High School.


About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from six different colleges representing nearly 200 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 35 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. and two professional programs.

The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.