May is not only the end of the school year; it is also known for Teacher Appreciation Week which is May 2nd through May 6th. It is a great time to recognize our teachers and other professionals for the work they do supporting students and families in our school district and school districts across the state and country. Teachers are the backbone of our educational system and after the challenges of the past two years and parental exposure to virtual learning, the level of appreciation, in many cases, has grown with a better understanding of the challenges involved within the teaching profession. The level of commitment, patience, and fortitude to be successful in the education profession is extensive and certainly deserves the respect and appreciation of others; regardless if you have children in school or not. The impacts of a successful educational system reaches everyone to some level in regards to our society and general quality of life. Please take an opportunity to say “thank you” to a teacher or educator in your lives this week as we wind down another school year here at McKenzie County Public School District #1.
With the recognition of teacher appreciation, the school district, this Spring, also reinstated a Teacher of the Year program which has not been in place for several years and only at the high school level previously. Each school building (Fox Hills, Badlands, WCMS, and WCHS) provided opportunities for community members, parents, students, fellow teachers, etc. to nominate a teacher for the building level recognition and this nomination was reviewed by the building administrators and a district-wide committee. The committee then applied a scoring method to determine the Teacher of the Year for each of our educational buildings. The winner of each building was then considered for the District Teacher of the Year award and forwarded to the County and State level for the County and North Dakota Teacher of the Year award(s). At this first annual event held on April 29th, the following teachers were recognized: Aleishia Cottrell from Fox Hills, Laurie Strom from Badlands, Lorri Zenz from WCMS, and David Gumke from WCHS. The winner of the District Teacher of the Year Award for 2021-2022 was David Gumke, High School Mathematics teacher. Mr. Gumke is eligible for the County and State Teacher of the Year awards and is invited to speak at the 2022 Watford City High School commencement ceremony on May 29th. The Teacher of the Year ceremony was a celebration of our educational professionals and appreciation for the work they all do with students daily. Congratulations to our recipients, nominees, and winners as well as all our professional staff for their dedication and commitment to students and education. Please consider nominating a teacher for the 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year recognition when it is open again in the spring of 2023.
We also recognized our retiring teachers as they say goodbye to the classroom and welcome their new phase in life. Thank you for your efforts and years of service to our school district! We also have several teachers, for various reasons, deciding to leave our school district for another school district or general pursuits at the end of this school year. We wish them the best of luck in their new endeavors as well. With the current teacher shortage across the country, filling open positions remains a challenge at all positions. However, we are optimistic of our ability to fill all our open positions and welcome new teachers to become part of our school district and community in 2022-2023. If you know of anyone looking for a teaching position, please feel free to refer them to our school district webpage for information on how to apply for open positions. Even if you/they don’t currently hold a teaching credential, we can discuss the alternative options of which to begin work as a teacher in North Dakota.
Thank you for all your support this 2021-2022 school year! I hope you enjoy the last month of school and look forward to a great summer. Please also consider summer school for your student in June.