Shari Jerde, a teacher of business education and family and consumer science at Grand Forks Community High School, was praised for her extraordinary skills as an educator during an event to recognize her Monday, Sept. 13, as one of four finalists for 2022 North Dakota Teacher of the Year.
At the celebration event at the alternative high school that enrolls about 90 students, ages 16-18, state school Superintendent Kirsten Baesler lauded Jerde “as a shining example of the best our teaching profession has to offer in North Dakota and throughout our country.”
To be chosen as a finalist for North Dakota Teacher of the Year is “truly an honor,” Baesler said. There are more than 12,000 teachers in the state, she said.
The selection as a finalist for the award is part of a process of nomination, supported by an application that covers teachers’ personal stories and “strategies to engage students of all backgrounds and places in life,” said Baesler. “It is one really big homework assignment. And Mrs. Jerde got an A+ in that homework assignment.”
Baesler was “tremendously impressed” by Jerde’s accounts of her teaching role, including her focus on “techniques and mindfulness and how to cope with stressful situations that all of us face in our lives.”
“Mrs. Jerde walks the talk; she does things beyond what’s expected of her,” Baesler said. “She’s really good at what she does.”
In accepting the award as a finalist, Jerde thanked her Community High School colleagues, Grand Forks school district administrators, and her family for their support.
Jerde recognized her parents, Judy and Lee Lewis of Mylo, N.D., who attended the event in person, for teaching her that hard work pays off. She also thanked her husband, Sean Jerde, and their three adult daughters for their support and other family members who were also present via an online Zoom connection.
Teaching at Community High School “has been the greatest teaching opportunity of my career, (working with) students who have not always had a straight path to graduation,” she said.
“I will continue to be the best teacher I can be, all for one more opportunity for students to be successful,” Jerde said.
In his remarks, Superintendent Terry Brenner, who worked with Jerde on a teacher advisory committee, said that her “decisions and thought process are always about students, not about the adults.”
Among several school district administrators in the crowd, Catherine Gillach, associate superintendent of secondary education, said about Jerde, “She is tireless and so creative. She does the kind of teaching we’d like to see everywhere.”
At Community High School, Jerde teaches family and consumer sciences, business education, and career and technical education, and she has been a traditional teacher, said Principal Terry Bohan.
“She is prepared, passionate, positive, current, creative, flexible, open, tough and kind,” he said. “She uses all of the spices in the spice rack, and multiple tools in the kitchen drawer” in support of her students and their success.
Jerde is “highly unique” in that she holds licensure in many subject areas, “so she is a ‘gold mine’ for elective programming,” Bohan said.
In the past 12 years or so, Jerde is one of three alternative-school teachers to be named as a finalist for North Dakota Teacher of the Year to the best of his knowledge, Bohan said.
This year, finalists were selected from 40 county Teachers of the Year. Not all of the state’s 53 counties selected a teacher for this recognition. Jerde was named as Grand Forks County Teacher of the Year.
Other finalists are Matthew Nielson, 11th-grade science teacher at Valley City High School; Heather Ell, first-grade teacher at John Hoeven Elementary School, Minot; and Bret Dockter, sixth-grade teacher at Harvey Elementary School.
The winner of the 2022 North Dakota Teacher of the Year will be announced by Baesler and Governor Doug Burgum on Sept. 27 at the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall.