Educator Profile    Educators

Rhonda Schier (CO '89)


Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln City, IN

At the time of the Award, Rhonda Schier was:

Ponderosa Elementary School
Aurora, CO

Subject(s) taught: English/Language

Biographical Information

While beginning my teaching career as a fifth grade teacher at Ellsworth Air Force Base near my hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota, I worked as a summer seasonal park ranger at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, giving ranger talks and walks. Then my life's journey took me to Montana, Wyoming and Colorado where I taught special education, ESL, and Chapter One language arts. In 1989 I took a phone call in my Chapter One "PALS" classroom from the Colorado Commissioner of Education. I grabbed my calendar thinking I was going to be asked to participate in a teacher workshop of some kind. Instead I received the life-changing news that I was a recipient of the 1989 Colorado National Milken Educator Award. The date I needed to enter in my calendar would be the dates of the Milken Education Conference in California. I loved my years in the classroom, and was thrilled to return to the National Milken Educator Conference as a participant and speaker on several occasions. I eventually returned to South Dakota for ten years, team teaching in an intermediate multi-age classroom, serving as an instructional technology specialist, and teaching middle school computer science. Then my home park of Mount Rushmore announced a new position in 2004, recruiting an education specialist, a teacher on staff, and I felt that job had my name on it. I made the transition from classroom to national park and have continued teaching with the National Park Service for ten years, supervising "Rangers in the Classroom," developing distance learning programs, hosting special events like "Read Across America" and "Junior Ranger Day," hosting teacher institutes and building education partnerships. I have served as Supervisory Park Ranger at Independence National Historical Park, (home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell,) as site manager of the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, and currently as Chief of Interpretation and Education at Valley Forge National Historical Park. One of my favorite parts of the job is my involvement in the "Park for Every Classroom" project, piloted by the parks of the NPS Northeast Region. Our goal is to help classroom teachers effectively use park resources to support curriculum and student achievement, both in the classroom and during on-site field trips and field studies to our parks. We are committed to life-long learning and want our national parks to serve as vital outposts for student learning and inspiration as young people take on responsibilities as stewards of our national parks, public lands and collected story. Please contact me if I can be of help and if you would like to connect your students to our NPS education network.

Personal Message

After being in the classroom for 25 years, my work with the National Park Service the last 10 has been a wonderful combination of the things I love: teaching, life-long learning, public history, and the world of nature. I always tell teachers that our experience in the classroom is a wonderful training ground for successful service in a wide variety of avocations or second or third careers, or civic engagement or political projects. Teaching affords us an amazing opportunity to develop skills and talents in time management, goal setting, research and development, training and motivation, communication, partnerships, evaluation, working under pressure, and meeting deadlines. I find that I always draw on my classroom experience every time I find myself in a critical conversation or facing a tough decision. I hope everyone knows that there is no better demonstration of skillful multi-tasking than a Milken Educator! As much as I love what I do in my role of Chief and as part of the park management team, there is still no better moment that being in the field or the classroom with students and teachers as we fuel each other's passion for life and learning. Please contact me if I can be of help and if you would like to connect your students to our NPS education network.

Related Connections

Article: Monumental Education

Additional Information


1974 University of South Dakota, B.S.

history, language arts, life-long learning, multi-age classrooms, adult education, professional development, teacher training, supervision, management, writing