SIOUX FALLS, S.D. Following a closing statement recognizing his work, current Sioux Falls School District board member Todd Thoelke almost held back his emotions amid a tough speech recognizing the work and accomplishments Kent Alberty celebrated with the board over twelve years. As he managed to get out the remaining few sentences, a heartfelt embrace between the school leaders ensued, and applause filled the Instructional Planning Center in Sioux Falls. Prior to leading his final meeting, he mentioned he did not expect to be in the position as long as he did.
Over those twelve years, there have been a lot of meetings, budgets, and motions enabling new protocols for the school district. Within those 4,380 days as a member of the board, Alberty recalls missing only two school board meetings; ironically due to other school board related activities. The former president attributes his family to helping him find purpose, and push for equal opportunities in education.
His oldest son was involved in special education within the district before dying at age ten, but as the family continued growing, so did the community he served and the need to raise the standard for secondary education.
"K-12 education has been important for me for 40 years,” Alberty said. “We have two other sons who came along later, and we were very involved in their education. I think it was just for me kind of a natural attrition to what's the next thing that I can do that might make a difference?"
Alberty did more than improve the school district according to his fellow board members. He also helped improve life for his peers according to current board member Todd Thoelke.
"The teacher pay, he was instrumental in getting the bond issue passed. It was a huge part for all of us,” Thoelke said. “Getting schools built, any program that Kent feels is needed for kids, he'll make sure to rally us all and make sure we understand. He's just been a champion as a board member."
As Alberty wiped the sweat off his brow in possibly one of his last interviews on camera he concluded by saying, “I’ll miss it. Next to my family, it will be the most important work I’ve ever done.