BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota State University has plans in the works to help solve South Dakota’s teacher shortage.

This week, the Board of Regents approved two new majors to fill the growing need.

Before becoming a teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School, Nikki Leite was a student across town at South Dakota State University.

“I did the DSU-SDSU co-op program, and I had a great experience with both universities, but I did have to drive to Madison. I carpooled with others my senior year,” Leite said.

But that travel may not be necessary beginning this fall, when SDSU could begin offering elementary and special education majors in addition to its early education program.

“So, 142 years in the making,” Wendell and Marlys Thompson Director of the School of Education Anne Karabon said. “Ultimately our aim and our goal is having high quality teachers working with our children.”

One way the university does that is with a partnership with Hillcrest Elementary.

“They help with recess, with lunch, I’ve had many SDSU student teachers as well,” Leite said.

“We have a number of students who are doing their student teaching or field experiences here on campus, so they get to have daily interactions, try out new lessons, learn about curriculum, and more importantly they learn to interact with families as well and some of those needs of families and children,” Karabon said.

And offering two new majors at SDSU will only make that partnership stronger.

“It’s going to be a great thing for the Brookings community, for our district. We’re going to get great high quality student teachers, teacher candidates. It’s going to be great for our district and also, it’s going to be great for our state,” Leite said.

While the new majors have the Board of Regents’ approval, SDSU is still waiting on the South Dakota Department of Education’s approval.