Now Reading Specialist at Lowell Elemntary, Karen Lukens was at Hawthorne Elementary School and at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls teaching a diverse group of learners, including those from different cultures and those with learning disabilities or limited English skills. She co-created a reading mentor program that brings 300 members of the community to the school each week to eat lunch with students and listen to them read. As a result of such programs, her students consistently score higher than their peers in standardized tests at both the building and district levels. Lukens is her building's literacy trainer and a member of the Sioux Falls School District Language Arts Committee. She was instrumental in the district's decision to move from a traditional reading approach to balanced literacy. In 2004, Lukens was awarded the American Star of Teaching award by the U.S. Department of Education, whose representative noted that Lukens' students had repeatedly doubled their performance scores. Along with other Milken Educators and Teachers of the Year, she assisted in planning and facilitating the Governor's New Teacher Academy for first-year teachers in South Dakota. She is currently teaching adjunct at the University of Sioux Falls in the Education Department for both the Undergarduate and Graduate programs.
1980 Augustana College, B.A. University of Sioux Falls, M.ED.