BISMARCK, ND, March 17, 2022 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Thursday that Bret Dockter, North Dakota’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, has been awarded a $15,000 grant to promote the teaching profession and education. It is the first grant of its kind in state history.
Dockter teaches social studies, science, and mathematics at B.M. Hanson Elementary School in Harvey and coaches the Harvey/Wells County high school football team. The funds come from North Dakota’s share of a federal grant allocation that supports classroom instruction.
Dockter said he is exploring several ideas for using the money, including speaking to North Dakota college students studying education, supporting a health care career fair, and providing first aid and CPR training for educators in the Harvey district.
Dockter said he is consulting other teachers and administrators for ideas and would welcome suggestions from colleagues across the state. “When I got this news (of the grant), it took me by surprise. I had no idea it was coming,” he said.
“This has never been done in North Dakota,” Dockter said. “We want to make sure we do things that are worthwhile. We’re open to ideas. We want to promote education as much as we can.”
Dockter’s work as an educator has reflected the Department of Public Instruction’s core values of building relationships, cultivating opportunity, and inspiring growth, Baesler said.
“You and your fellow educators across the state make a remarkable impact on the lives of so many students throughout North Dakota,” Baesler said in a letter to Dockter. “Keep up your outstanding efforts in working with North Dakota students. You make a difference in the lives of so many of them.”
As state superintendent, Baesler has expanded North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year program by seeking nominees from each of North Dakota’s 53 counties. Educators chosen as Teacher of the Year in their respective counties can apply for the State Teacher of the Year honor.
Baesler said this grant is a new addition to the State Teacher of the Year (STOY) program. “Previous State Teachers of the Year have made suggestions to NDDPI on how we can improve the STOY award. With a limited state budget for this program, we cannot fund North Dakota’s state teacher of the year like other states,” she said. “This idea is one way we can add to our program and provide something of significance to our winners.”
The most recent County Teacher of the Year selection process closed last month. Educators who will be honored as County Teachers of the Year will be announced in late spring. By law, the State Teacher of the Year will be named by Sept. 30.
Baesler said she hoped the grant incentive would encourage the newest group of County Teacher of the Year honorees to apply for State Teacher of the Year.
“No one is a stronger advocate for the teaching profession than a North Dakota Teacher of the Year,” Baesler said. “This grant can be used in many ways. For example, Bret can use these funds to share his expertise with his colleagues across the state and community groups, businesses, and students interested in teaching careers.”