Bret Dockter, a sixth-grade teacher at B.M. Hanson Elementary School in Harvey and the 2022 North Dakota Teacher of the Year, has made promotion of teacher retention in our state one of his top priorities. In September of 2022, he put out a call to all of our state’s teachers to share their stories on why they chose to stay in education.

“My platform this year has been on teacher recruitment and retention,” Dockter said in his announcement. “As I have traveled across the state and nation this year, it has become clear to me that while many are leaving our profession, there are even more great and influential educators that are making a difference.”

Earlier this year, Bret worked with Tom Gerhardt to create a new podcast called “What’s Your Why?” They talked to educators across North Dakota about why they’re staying in public education, what they’d like to see changed to make education better, and end each episode by asking, “What’s your why?”

In conjunction with Teacher Appreciation Week, we are sharing four episodes that Bret and Tom recorded earlier this year with the four finalists for ND Teacher of the Year in 2023. The first episode is a conversation with the recipient of that award, Ivona Todorovic of Red River High School in Grand Forks. In this premiere episode, Ivona talks about her inspiring story of how she chose to become an educator, what gives her hope, one thing she’d like to see changed, her mentors, and her why.


Listen to all of the episodes of “What’s Your Why?” now on our website, or visit our Spreaker page to find links to listen on your favorite podcasting platforms.