Photo courtesy TEDx Sioux Falls
TALK—Todd Novak gives his TEDx Talk “My Life Among Freshmen and the Adults Who Teach Them.”

Freshman Coordinator gives TEDx Talk
Todd Novak speaks of individualizing each freshman

By Ganin Thompson

An unexpected blizzard and ice storm kept Warriors at home from school on April 11, but it didn’t keep one WHS teacher, Freshman Academy Coordinator Dr. Todd Novak, PhD, home. 

Novak, a teacher at WHS for 11 years, got the chance to present at the Sioux Falls TEDx program after providing a 500-word explanation of the talk and a 300-word reason why he was the person to give it. 

Things were shaky due to the weather, Novak said. 

“At first I thought they were going to cancel,” he said. “They told us that the only thing that will cancel it is a power outage. The show will go on.” 

As it turned out, he was one of 10 local presenters chosen to give a TEDx talk that night at the Museum of Visual Materials on Main Avenue in front of a full house. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The “x” signifies an independently organized TED event. 

Other speakers on April 11 included the likes of Eleanor Turner, author and baby naming expert; Jeff Gould, husband, father, storyteller and author; Vaney Hariri, co-founder of Think 3D and many others. 

With each speaker being given 18 minutes for their presentation and Novak scheduled as the ninth speaker, nerves were starting to get the better of him. 

“It was like being at the starting blocks for a big race for an hour and a half,” Novak said. “I was ready to get up there and get it done.” 

Novak says he spent more than 40 hours on the presentation. He also credits the people that helped him throughout the project. 

“I presented to other teachers of the freshman academy,” he said. “The talk is completely different from where I started. I received some great feedback and solid new ideas as I presented it to other people.” 

Even through the weather nearly proved to be the downfall of all his hard work due to awful late winter/early spring weather, Novak said he would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I would love to do it again if I’m given the opportunity,” he said. “It was a great experience!” 

He also said that he has some new-found knowledge as a result of the experience. 

“I thought about it all the time for about two weeks, and discovered things about what we do that I did not know before I started,” he said.

A complete list of talks can be found at Novak’s talk and the others can be seen on YouTube by Googling Sioux Falls Tedx and the presenter’s name.

Novak's TEDx Talk


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