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Harvey teacher named ND "Teacher of the Year"

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler, Teacher of the Year Bret Dockter and Gov. Doug Burgum

A sixth grade teacher from Harvey has been named as North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year.

Bret Dockter is a sixth grade teacher and coach at B. M. Hanson Elementary School in Harvey. He was chosen from among four finalists for the honor.

Dockter said when the call came that he was the winner, he couldn’t believe it. He said teaching is a rewarding profession.

"It takes a lot of time and effort, obviously," Dockter said. "People don't realize weekends, after school or at night. But it means you care about what you're doing."

Dockter said you care about your colleagues, and the kids.

"Each kid is different, and each kid is unique," Dockter said. "It's our job to find each kid's strengths. Every kid has a strength."

Dockter said the last 18 months has been challenging to him and to his colleagues. And he said he hopes to never go back to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when classrooms were empty and students were learning on-line.

"We did all we could with technology," Dockter said. "It's still not the same, to have them in the space, interacting with the kid in the classroom, as opposed to the kid on the screen."

Dockter said the pandemic did teach him to make every day count.

"I remember, somewhere in the middle of the pandemic, with the school closures, and I woke up one morning, and I said to my wife, 'If I ever complain about getting up and going to school, slap me," Dockter said.

The other finalists for Teacher of the Year were Heather Ell, first grade teacher at John Hoeven Elementary in Minot; Shari Jerde, a teacher at Grand Forks Community High School; and Matthew Nielsen, a science teacher at Valley City High School.