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New Town Middle School principal recognized by president

Kara Four Bear, the principal at New Town Middle School, is one of two educators in the country to receive the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.

According to information provided by Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, the middle school uses a specialized curriculum that is focused on improving their students’ “digital literacy and safety skills” using a curriculum developed by the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, a cybersecurity workforce development organization that is distributed for free to schools through the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Education Training Assistance Program grant. The curriculum covers topics such as cyber ethics and cyber law and enables students to put the lessons and skills they have learned to practical use. The Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award was created as part of President Trump’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce to address a shortage of cybersecurity talent and skills, according to a news release. The Department of Education received nominations from 23 states. Four Bear has been honored for her passion for instilling knowledge and passion in her students as well as cybersecurity skills.

Beginning in the sixth grade students develop special interest projects that explore careers in science, mathematics, engineering and mathematics, careers in the military, traditional careers, and college options.

“We are just a small-town school looking to make an impact on children’s lives on a global scale,” said Four Bear in an email last week. “These past few years we have worked to build our school’s educational programming to be more robust, global, and relevant. All efforts and recognition are a direct reflection of the commitment of our teachers, students, and community. Shared leadership and teamwork allow our school’s team to make positive change for our learners. Our school’s transformations are completely possible for all rural schools within North Dakota and beyond, thanks to partners with purpose in evolving education to include Cybersecurity and the Computer Sciences. Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing professions in the world and we are doing our part to create pipelines of creativity and innovation to inspire youth to consider these career pathways. At the end of the day…it is all for our youth and communities!”

The school works with partners such as the ND K20-W Initiative Partners led by Gov. Doug Burgum, the North Dakota Department of Education, North Dakota United, National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, The Microsoft TEALS Program ND Campus Partners – Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, ND Center for Distance Education, Valley City State University, ND Space Grant Consortium.

Students from the school learn about different careers in cybersecurity and some have participated in the Valley City State University Summer Academy and the University of North Dakota NASA Near Space Project.

“We have several students who are interested in working in the cybersecurity field,” said Four Bear in the email. “Our work at the (middle school) has grown to include the development of a series of Computer Science and Cybersecurity courses that are being offered at the high school level. A STEM class is now offered at the upper elementary school levels. The (high school) course offerings are developed through a partnership with the Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) Program. Our (middle school) students take those courses as an elective to further prepare them for the (high school) classes. As a school district, we have significantly grown a linear provision for cybersecurity, STEM concepts, and the computer sciences to benefit all learners within the New Town Public School District.”

Four Bear said educators want students to set goals for the future and prepare for life after school.

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