Area educators receive 'County Teacher of the Year' honor

Eleven teachers in northeast North Dakota are eligible for the North Dakota Teacher of the Year award.

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North Dakota teachers have growing concerns about the pandemic. The rights to this photo have been purchased from iStock images by the Grand Forks Herald and Forum Communications Co. (iStock/Vyacheslav Petelin)

Eleven public school teachers in northeast North Dakota have been selected as County Teachers of the Year from among 110 educators who were nominated for the honor, according to Kirsten Baesler, state school superintendent.

Of the 110 nominees, 81 teachers completed applications to be considered. The applications were screened by an eight-member committee that included education group representatives and a former Teacher of the Year.

The County Teachers of the Year in northeast North Dakota are, by county: Benson -- Mary Broe, Oberon Elementary School; Bottineau -- Ally Liebelt, Westhope Public School; Cavalier -- Kim Schneider, Langdon Area Elementary School; Grand Forks -- Shari Jerde, Grand Forks Community High School; Nelson -- Sarah Johnson, Dakota Prairie School, Petersburg; Pembina -- Ashley Johnson, North Border Public School, Pembina; Ramsey -- Maari Hanson, Devils Lake Central Middle School; Steele -- Tracy Larson, Finley-Sharon Public School, Finley; Towner -- Hannah Alto, North Star Public School, Cando; Traill -- Brittany Guttormson, Hillsboro High School; and Walsh -- Marcus Tucker, Valley-Edinburg High School, Edinburg.

Baesler initiated the annual County Teacher of the Year program to increase North Dakota’s efforts to recognize and celebrate the work of its teachers. Before it was launched, the program focused on the state Teacher of the Year honor, which normally has fewer than six finalists, Baesler said.

“Our North Dakota teachers have done exceptionally heroic work to meet the learning demands brought about by the pandemic. It is especially appropriate that we step up our efforts across the state to honor and celebrate them,” Baesler said in a news release.


The 40 County Teachers of the Year are eligible to apply for the North Dakota Teacher of the Year honor. The winner will be notified in August. The North Dakota Teacher of the Year will become a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award, which is selected by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C.

Counties without a Teacher of the Year honoree did not have any applications. North Dakota has 53 counties.

The committee that selects the County Teacher of the Year includes at least one former state Teacher of the Year recipient; a representative of North Dakota’s nonpublic schools; and representatives of the Department of Public Instruction; the state Council of Education Leaders, which represents school administrators; the Department of Career and Technical Education; the North Dakota School Boards Association; and North Dakota United, which represents teachers and public employees.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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