Welcome to The School Bell!
NDDPI launched this feature series to promote and celebrate K-12 education initiatives, partnerships, and accomplishments across North Dakota.
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2022 ND Teacher of the Year Bret Dockter: His Year in Review
Bret Dockter’s year as the 2022 North Dakota Teacher of the Year (TOY) has been, in his own words, amazing and humbling. “I didn’t realize how much it would change me,” he said.
Celebrating Excellence in STEM
Every year, two North Dakota teachers (one in science and one in math) are eligible to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). These awards are the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and/or computer science teaching. The nominations are taken from anyone – principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public – or teachers can opt to apply without being nominated. The awards are given to K-6 teachers one year, 7-12 teachers the next.
School Board Training Provides Focus
‘Student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change.’
The above statement is the focus of the recently-introduced North Dakota Be Legendary School Board Leadership Institute, a training program specifically developed for North Dakota school board members.
Migrant Summer School Program Provides Opportunity
There were once nine schools in North Dakota offering migrant summer programs. Currently, two are offered in Grafton and Manvel for K-12 students (up to 21 years of age) of families of migrant workers.
The North Dakota Migrant Education Program is entirely funded by the federal government. A migrant worker is defined as a person who moves to another area to find employment. North Dakota sees an influx of seasonal workers in the spring and summer, and some move their families with them wherever they go. Last year, North Dakota served 215 students, with just over 30 enrolled in the distance program.
Inspiring Student Engagement and Academic Success
Education has always been a fast-changing system, even more so in the last few years. Recently the education system has made great shifts in the way that students and teachers interact with curriculum and learning, in general. It is inspiring and admirable to witness how many teachers, like Dunseith Elementary music teacher Tim Hines, have taken this shift in stride.
Initiative Supports Special Education and will Benefit all Students
The ‘All for One, One for All’ program provides opportunities for eligible Fargo Public School District educators to receive additional compensation by participating in additional professional development and/or receiving an additional endorsement on their teaching license.
Empower[Ed] is a success for Bismarck Public Schools
As the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction works to make education more innovative, Bismarck Public Schools is making sure they are taking advantage of all the opportunities NDDPI provides.
April 6th is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day
Paraprofessional Appreciation Day honors paraprofessional educators, who may also be known as paras, instructional assistants, or teacher aides. Paraprofessionals support students with instruction, behavior, language, physical assistance, and more. They perform a variety of teaching-related tasks and, while they assist teachers in classrooms, they may also work independently.
Cultivating and Inspiring Innovation in Our Schools
A few weeks after North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler took office in 2013, she received an email from a high school principal who “wanted to do things differently.”
When work first began on how to improve the way North Dakota students learn, it became apparent that what was good for one district was not going to work in another. School districts were going to need to communicate what changes were desired and of course, not all school districts saw the need for change. Over time, the concept of allowing innovation to grow locally took shape and during the 2017 legislative session, SB 2186 was passed. This precedence-setting legislation allows public and nonpublic schools to have more local control and flexibility over the design and delivery of learning in their schools.
Celebrating Achievements in Education
Recently, representatives from Emerado Elementary School and Mt. Pleasant High School in Rolla traveled to New Orleans to be recognized as National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools at the 2022 National ESEA Conference. The four-day event was attended by educators, administrators, and state association members from across the U.S. and addressed a common goal – how to best meet the needs of disadvantaged students.
North Dakota Leads the Way with Inaugural Cyber Madness Tournament
North Dakota is leading the way in educating students in computer science. We are the first state to have computer science and cybersecurity standards for curriculum. To encourage participation and interest in computer science and cybersecurity, the first-ever Cyber Madness Tournament was held February 10 - 12 at Bismarck State College. Thirteen teams of high school students from eleven school districts across North Dakota competed.
Supporting and Strengthening Education in North Dakota
In North Dakota, there are seven Regional Education Associations (REAs) that support school districts in many ways. These REAs were established by state law in 2005 to increase efficiencies at the school level, allowing districts to pool funding and resources for professional development and services.
Snow Days are Going Virtual
What if schools didn't have to worry about making up snow days? That would be a good thing, especially in North Dakota.
21st Century Community Learning Grants Provides Funding for Valuable Afterschool Programs
Afterschool programs provide endless opportunities for learning experiences, exposure to the arts, physical activity, and even internships for older students. Families benefit from their children's increased engagement and the ability for parents to remain in the workforce.
In North Dakota, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Program serves up to 10,000 students per year at over 100 sites. Federal funding was first made available in 1998 as a means to reduce at-risk behaviors for kids between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.
Communication and Collaboration Create Successful Partnerships
As it oversees the education of over 120,000 students across the state, NDDPI partners with many educational and noneducational entities to carry out its mission. Most people may not realize NDDPI is in a unique position compared to its counterparts in other states.
“In North Dakota, NDDPI doesn’t oversee everything that has to do with education,” said North Dakota Assistant Superintendent Laurie Matzke. “There are many departments and organizations working together. Superintendent Baesler has, over the past eleven years, worked hard to create and strengthen partnerships so we can collaborate on projects.”
Increasing Dyslexia Awareness in North Dakota
The need for improved screening and intervention for dyslexia led to the creation of HB1461 during the 2019 North Dakota legislative session. The bill was passed and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction received $250,000 to implement the Dyslexia Pilot Program for the 2019-2021 biennium.
Strengthening Mental Health in North Dakota Students
Most people have heard that mental and behavioral health struggles are increasing, especially for our youth. According to the 2019 North Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 61.2 percent of high school students reported their mental health was not good on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey. And, the percentage of students who have seriously considered attempting suicide, has increased from 12.4 percent in 2009 to 18.8 percent in 2019.
Where Have All the Teachers Gone?
School districts across North Dakota have been dealing with teacher shortages for several years. And, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board declared all areas (all academic areas needing a license) as having a shortage. The preliminary results for the 2021-2022 school year show the trend continuing and even worsening in some areas.
Monday, November 15th kicks off American Education Week across the United States. In North Dakota, the Department of Public Instruction encourages schools to celebrate their students, teachers and the entire learning community.
North Dakota Provides College-bound Students Financial Resources for Education Beyond High School
As college-bound seniors navigate their last year of high school, one of the things on their to-do list is probably 'apply for scholarships.' North Dakota has done a great job providing scholarship opportunities to help students attain an affordable degree in North Dakota colleges and universities. There are many scholarships, grants, reciprocity, and student exchange programs available.
Meeting the Needs of College-bound Students
When North Dakota colleges and universities started seeing an increase in the number of students having to take remedial courses in English and math, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction stepped up to create the College Ready English and Math (CREAM) program.
Preparing Students for Success
Not every student who graduates from high school will go to college. Some might enter the workforce and others might enlist in the military. Making sure students are successful, no matter what they choose, is the goal of the North Dakota Choice Ready initiative.
Changing the One-Size-Fits-All Education Model
DPI believes that every child deserves a personalized learning experience. In 2017, DPI and partners across the state garnered support for SB 2186, which created a pilot program that fosters personalized, competency-based learning in North Dakota. This initiative supports the North Dakota PK-12 Strategic Vision that all students will graduate choice ready with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to be successful.
Five-Minute Brain Breaks Can Help Us All
When you hear the word literacy, you may think of reading and writing. But it is so much more. Literacy involves a wide variety of skills, including listening, speaking, comprehension and problem solving. It is the foundation for lifelong success at home, school and in the community.
Giving Students a Pathway Up with Computer Science
Most of us grew up knowing the ‘3 Rs’ were the foundations of learning in our schools. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are still important, but why not make those foundations stronger with computer science? NDDPI continues to advocate for the value of including computer science and cybersecurity in K-12 curriculum across the state.
Transforming Lives Through Adult Education
What do a college president, an astronaut, a preschool teacher, and a U.S. Surgeon General have in common? Each of these people dropped out of school as teenagers. Years later, they enrolled in adult education to improve their lives. The North Dakota GED pass rate is one of the highest in the nation. For the 2020-21 school year, 453 GEDs were earned, which equates to an 86 percent pass rate.
Pre-K Students Benefit from Best in Class Program
The North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) has introduced a pilot program designed to serve children and families in the year before they enter kindergarten. The Best in Class Grant program is built on over 20 years of research from similar programs across the country.
Increasing Cultural Awareness in North Dakota Classrooms
In 2015, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction decided to develop more authentic materials for Native American studies. Because Native American students represent the highest minority population in our state, ten percent of K-12 enrollment, the resources needed to be unique to North Dakota. NDDPI brought together tribal elders from across North Dakota in the spring of 2015. They shared their wealth of knowledge and helped to develop the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings (NDNAEU) that would form the basis for lesson and resource development.