Teacher of the Year finalist

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Kristi Reinke, a special services and social sciences teacher at Jim Hill Middle School, is one of four finalists for the 2021 North Dakota Teacher of the Year Award. She was honored at a special ceremony at the school on Tuesday morning by State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler. Other finalists for the award are Jana Gudmundson, an instructional coach and technology integration specialist at Park River; Dana Kasowski, a Wahpeton Public Schools special education teacher; and Cory Volk, a science teacher at South Central High School in Bismarck.

Earlier this month, Baesler also honored county teachers of the year. Area teachers who were honored as county teachers of the year include Diane Mertens, a special education teacher in Devils Lake High School; Claudia Park, a school librarian in Carrington; Jessica Marsh, a third through sixth grade English teacher at Newburg United; Elizabeth Loeks, a second grade teacher at Powers Lake; Alexandria Brummond, a prekindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and robotics teacher at Alexander; Brooklyn Schaan, a Title I reading and mathematics teacher at Washburn; Nancy Reimer, a business and computer teacher in New Town; Kimberly Brown, a Title I elementary teacher and instructional strategist in the MLS-Mohall schools.

Other county teachers of the year honored include Kimmy Milligan, a student performance strategist at Eagles Elementary School in Fargo; Kalyn Haafke, a seventh to ninth grade English teacher at Oakes; Joleen Silbernagel, a junior high and high school math teacher at Strasburg; Eileen Zygarlicke, an English teacher in the Grand Forks Community High School, and Jacqueline Zikmund, a high school mathematics teacher at Midway Public Schools in Inkster;Chad Berger, a high school social studies teacher at Dakota Prairie School in Petersburg; Rebeka Helm, a 7th-12th grade English teacher in the North Sargent Public Schools in Gwinner; and Amanda Fisher, a counselor at Jefferson Elementary School in Dickinson.

The county awards are part of North Dakota’s state Teacher of the Year recognition program. Baesler has worked to expand the program during her tenure as the state’s top K-12 public education official, with the goal of recognizing outstanding educators annually from each of North Dakota’s 53 counties.

The county Teachers of the Year were nominated for the awards. Nominees may be put forward by anyone who believes the teacher is deserving, including his or her school colleagues, students, and their students’ parents.

The county awards are in addition to North Dakota’s state Teacher of the Year award for 2021. The North Dakota Teacher of the Year will be named at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, during a ceremony in the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall, hosted by Baesler and Gov. Doug Burgum.


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