Glenna Fouberg, known as ‘Mrs. Education,’ dies

ABERDEEN, S.D. (By Elisa Sand – A longtime educator and inductee into state and local halls of fame has died from complications related to COVID-19.

Glenna Fouberg, 78, of Aberdeen was named among the 2020 inductees into the South Dakota Hall of Fame and the Central High School Hall of Fame.

Known as “Mrs. Education” and a teacher with a commitment to helping students on the margins of the state’s education system, Fouberg began her teaching career following graduation from the Northern State Teachers College in 1963 and South Dakota State University in 1968.

During her 38-year career, she taught at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, Sisseton, Bristol, Webster and Aberdeen. The last 13 years of her career she was director of the Alternative Learning Center in Aberdeen.

At the Alternative Learning Center she extended services to middle school students, those at the Juvenile Detention Center and those at the New Beginnings Center, which is a home for at-risk youth. She also mentored other school districts in the creation of similar centers.

Fouberg’s time at the Alternative Learning Center was special to her, said her husband Rod Fouberg. She was proud of the accomplishments of those students, who are now in their 40s and 50s, when they took jobs and started families. She loved to talk about those successes, Rod Fouberg said.

Those former students would seek her out when they saw Glenna Fouberg around town.

“They’d come up and give her hugs,” Rod Fouberg said.

Glenna Fouberg was named South Dakota teacher of the year in 1994. She served 19 years on the South Dakota Board of Education, including four as president. She also led the Indian Education Advisory Board for 10 years and helped start the annual Indian Education Summit and the South Dakota Teacher Summit. Her leadership helped bring Teach for America to the state, which places teachers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

In Aberdeen, Fouberg was involved in multiple organizations and fundraising activities, which included the capital campaign to build the Aberdeen Family YMCA.

Rod Fouberg said his wife went into the hospital for a second time in early December and was transferred to the intensive care unit shortly thereafter because of COVID-19.

Glenna Fouberg loved visiting and helping others, her husband said. Anybody who sat next to her on a plane or train or bus “turned into a friend right away.

“She just wanted to be around people,” Rod Fouberg said.