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Damian Dagel is new RVHS special education teacher

Troy Krause
Damian Dagel is working with students in Grades 9-12 as part of the special education program.

When Damian Dagel was in high school, he had a positive experience in one of his classes that led to his decision to become a teacher.

So, after graduating from Pipestone Area High School in 2012, Dagel attended Augustana University where he started the pursuit of a degree in Spanish education.

“I fell in love with Spanish when I was in high school,” said Dagel.

While he began with a goal to earn his Spanish education degree, in the end Dagel walked away with another degree as well – special education.

Dagel said he opted for special education while in college based on a personal experience where he saw the impact special education could have. He also took an introduction to special education class that convinced him to pursue that degree, too.

Graduating in 2016, Dagel spent the next three years working in the Marshall school district as a middle-school special education teacher.

However, being from a smaller community, Dagel wanted to find a school that had that same small-town feel, and, for him, he has found that in the Redwood Area School District.

This school year he is teaching as part of the Redwood Valley High School special education department and is working with students in Grades 9-12. 

According to Dagel, a lot of his school day is spent in the classroom co-teaching and providing support, adding he has a caseload of 16 high-school students he works with regularly.

What that means is he needs to be prepared to assist students in a variety of subjects at all high-school grade levels, adding he also is working with those students as they develop personal social skills.

What makes it all the more challenging is the fact that he is working with students both in class and as they attend school from home. Having had experience in a distance model last spring, Dagel said he was a little more prepared for the start of this year.

However, he added one can never truly be ready for a model that does not have students in the classroom every school day.

A lot of Dagel’s days are spent playing catch up with students. Every student Dagel works with has what is known as an individual education plan (IEP), and this year that included goals for working from home.

On top of working directly with students, as a special education teacher Dagel also spends a lot of time filling out paperwork to ensure the goals of the IEPs are being met by all of his students.

For Dagel, working in a new school district has been going very well, adding he has received a lot of support and has felt welcomed.

Outside of the classroom, Dagel is also serving as the coach for the Redwood Valley speech team. That season is nearing, but Dagel said he is not sure what that will look like.

Dagel, who participated in speech when he was in high school, said his speech coach, Monica Sullivan, had a big influence on him.

“She saw people as individuals,” said Dagel, adding that is what he wants to do as a teacher and coach, too.

When he is not in school working with students, filling out paperwork or working as a speech coach, Dagel enjoys spending time reading, watching TV or being with friends and family.