BISMARCK, ND, September 21, 2020 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Governor Doug Burgum announced Monday that Kristi Reinke, a social studies teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot, has been named North Teacher of the Year 2021 Dakota.
Reinke was chosen from a group of four finalists for the annual honor. The other three were Jana Gudmundson, a technology integration specialist and instructor at Park River Area Schools; Dana Kasowski, a special education teacher at Wahpeton Middle School; and Cory Volk, a science teacher at South Central High School in Bismarck.
“Every day, Ms. Reinke’s goal is to do her best to create a sense of community, in her classroom, in the hallways, with her colleagues and in her district,” Baesler said. “She believes it is important to lead by example and lay the foundations for positive relationships with everyone around her.
“SM. Reinke is a shining example of the best our teaching profession has to offer, in North Dakota or anywhere else in our country,” said Baesler.
Baesler expanded the state Teacher of the Year program as part of its efforts to celebrate, honor, and recognize North Dakota teachers. She sought nominations for honor from across North Dakota and was previously named Teacher of the Year by 19 counties. Four of these county teachers of the year were named finalists for state honor.
An eight-member selection committee interviewed the finalists and chose Reinke as Teacher of the Year 2021. She succeeds Sara Medalen, a reading and math interventionist at Minot’s Sunnyside Elementary School.
Reinke thanked his family, colleagues and students during the ceremony. “I am grateful to be able to explore another path along my journey as a teacher,” she said.
“I am grateful to my colleagues from Minot Public Schools, and especially to my colleagues from Jim Hill Middle School. And I mean everyone, “he said.” I hear you and see you. You inspire me every single day and push me to be a better teacher.
“Being a teacher is where I belong,” he continued. “Anything else I know, with all the unknown and uncertainty of the school year, I am more certain than ever that the teachers are amazing.”
Burgum said Reinke “not only embraces the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child, but lives it every day in her classroom, creating a sense of community with her students and colleagues and laying the foundation for positive relationships that lead to positive relationships results. We are grateful to Ms. Reinke and all these passionate and dedicated finalists who care deeply about their students and empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to reach their full potential. “
Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United, which represents teachers and civil servants, said the North Dakotans were grateful for the educators’ response to the pandemic.
“Your commitment to excellence in education and your dedication to creating loving, safe and creative learning spaces for your students have earned you the admiration and respect of all North Dakotas,” he said. Archuleta. “I think there is a newfound appreciation for what you do every day in class, how creative you are, how much you inspire your students and how much you love your students.”
Reinke is now a nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which is nominated by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, DC. The organization typically names four finalists in January and the national Teacher of the Year award in the spring.
County Teachers of the Year are:
- Burleigh County: Cory Volk, science teacher at South Central High School in Bismarck;
- Bottineau County: Jessica Marsh, 3rd through 6th grade English teacher at Newburg United School;
- Burke County: Elizabeth Loeks, a second grade teacher at Powers Lake Elementary School;
- Cass County: Kimmy Milligan, a performance strategist student at Eagles Elementary School in Fargo;
- Dickey County: Kalyn Haafke, 7th and 9th grade English teacher at Oakes Public Schools;
- Emmons County: Joleen Silbernagel, 7th and 12th grade math teacher at Strasburg High School;
- Foster County: Claudia Park, librarian and teacher at Carrington Public Schools;
- Grand Forks County (2): Eileen Zygarlicke, an English teacher at Grand Forks Community High School, and Jacqueline Zikmund, a math teacher at Midway Public Schools in Inkster;
- McKenzie County: Alexandria Brummond, a Kindergarten-12th science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and robotics teacher at Alexander Public Schools;
- McLean County: Brooklyn Schaan, first-degree reading and math teacher at Washburn Public Schools;
- Mountrail County: Nancy Reimer, economics and computer science teacher at New Town Public Schools;
- Nelson County: Chad Berger, a high school social studies teacher at Dakota Prairie School in Petersburg;
- Ramsey County: Diane Mertens, a special education teacher at Devils Lake High School;
- Renville County: Kimberly Brown, Title 1 elementary teacher and education strategist at Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood public schools;
- Richland County: Dana Kasowski, a special education teacher at Wahpeton Middle School;
- Sargent County: Rebeka Helm, a 7th through 12th grade English teacher at North Sargent Public Schools in Gwinner;
- Stark County: Amanda Fisher, counselor at Dickinson’s Jefferson Elementary School;
- Walsh County: Jana Gudmundson, Technology Integration Specialist and Instructor at Park River Area Schools; is
- Ward County: Kristi Reinke, a social studies teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot.
The eight members of the Teacher Selection Committee of the Year are:
Alexis Baxley, director of the North Dakota School Boards Association.
- Sarah Keizer Johnson, Special Projects Coordinator, North Dakota United.
- Russ Ziegler, Deputy Director, North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders.
- Tracy Friesen, Academic Progress Coordinator, Light of Christ Catholic Schools.
- Mark Wagner, assistant director of state, department of career and technical education.
- Sara Medalen, Teacher of the Year 2020 North Dakota.
- Kayla Dornfeld, Teacher of the Year 2019 North Dakota.
- Tara Fuhrer, director of early learning, North Dakota Department of Education.