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Teachers celebrated at the Capitol

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

It was a celebration of -- and for -- teachers.

"When we all think back on our own education, we can all think of a teacher, instructor, mentor, that was a champion for each and every one of us," Gov. Doug Burgum said during the event at the state Capitol. "We know what kind of a difference that made in our lives. And that's the kind of difference each one of you are making."

Burgum, state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler and North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta hosted the celebration.

The ceremony featured Kayla Dornfield of Mapleton, the 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year; Brittany Larson of Grafton, winner of a 2018 Milken award for teaching; West Fargo Freedom Elementary Principal Dr. Jeffry Johnson, whose school was named one of the national Blue Ribbon schools; a number of West Fargo teachers who have received national certification; and teachers from Bismarck’s Legacy High School, named the state’s innovative school of the year.

Baesler said her department has been working on a number of ways to “uplift” and honor the teaching profession. She said it's not just for teachers now, but for young people who may want to choose teaching in their future.


"We as educators understand we are the profession that creates all other professions," Baesler said. "Too often, we forget to create the pathway to that profession itself."

Baesler said the Legislature is helping to change that, noting it passed a bill to encourage North Dakota students to take “education pathway” courses.

"These classes will teach our North Dakota young people about the great opportunities, and the important responsibility, in the career of teaching," Baesler said.

Baesler said students who choose that pathway could be eligible for a state scholarship. She said she hopes it will entice more students to go into teaching.

"But even if those students don't teach a day in their lives, what they are learning is not only the ability to teach, but the ability to communicate and to collaborate," Baesler said. "This is valued by every employer."

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