Ramstad teacher finalist for Teacher of the Year

Charles Crane/MDN Teacher of the year award finalist Trisha Schaefer leads students in a school chant at Erik Ramstad Middle School.

Students and faculty gathered early Wednesday morning at Erik Ramstad Middle School to celebrate Trisha Schaefer as a finalist for this year’s North Dakota Teacher of the Year award.

“This is a huge honor for Ramstad and the entire Minot community. We have over 10,000 teachers in North Dakota and Minot has one of the four best of the 2024 school year,” said State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Educators, family members, students and community members from all 53 counties in North Dakota were asked to nominate a teacher to be considered for the Teacher of the Year 2024 award. From the 42 applicants nominated, four finalists were chosen, Shaefer being one of them.

Schaefer has worked in education for more than 20 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music education from Minot State University. She now teaches sixth-grade math at Ramstad Middle School. Throughout her career she has taught English language arts, science, social studies and instrumental and vocal music in all grades. She was previously awarded Ward County Teacher of the Year.

She was nominated as a curious and lifelong learner, going above and beyond to meet her students’ needs. This award recognizes her passion and dedication to their success.

“I was delighted to learn how she blends her love of music and rhythm with math instruction. They say that music and math go quite well together. She turns math rules into lyrics to help her students remember them,” Baesler said.

To become a finalist for the North Dakota Teacher of the Year award, applicants must discuss their teaching philosophy and examine how they connect with the larger Minot community.

“This demands some deep soul-searching and introspection,” said Baesler.

Baesler said Minot teachers are humble people. They are not used to sharing their accomplishments. Instead, they point out the strength of their team, the mentors they have worked under and the colleagues they work with every day.

“They do not like talking about themselves. But as we go through applications, we begin to understand more of the person they are and what an important part of the team that teacher is,” Baesler said.

Schaefer believes there are three things’ educators can do to provide children with a good education: support their emotional and social growth, encourage them to be lifelong learners and provide them with a safe and caring environment.

Her top priorities are to create a healthy school climate and to maintain positive relationships with families. She believes getting the community to hold Minot schools in a positive light will lead to a greater quantity and quality of teachers.

“I feel very lucky,” Schaefer said. “This recognition is to be shared amongst all of Ramstad. I would not be standing here if it weren’t for my students and colleagues. Everybody in this building works together to create something great. We are a family.”

Baesler said the celebration for Schaefer is also an opportunity to celebrate all of North Dakota education.

“This honors the teaching profession with the respect and admiration it deserves. I can say from personal experience there is no better way that you can help young people achieve their dreams than by being a teacher,” Baesler said.

The North Dakota Teacher of the Year will be announced on Sept. 28 at the Capitol by Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.


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