Four North Dakota educators were selected as finalists for the 2022 state Teacher of the Year award, and all four are members of North Dakota United, the state’s largest professional association of public educators and employees. State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced the list of finalists in a news release on July 7.

The four finalists are:

  • Bret Dockter, sixth-grade teacher at Harvey Elementary School and member of the Harvey Education Association
  • Heather Ell, first-grade teacher at John Hoeven Elementary School and member of the Minot Education Association
  • Shari Jerde, teacher of business education and family and consumer science at Grand Forks Community High School and member of the Grand Forks Education Association
  • Matt Nielson, 11th- and 12th-grade science teacher at Valley City High School and member of the Valley City Education Association

NDU President Nick Archuleta congratulated the four finalists and 40 county Teacher of the Year winners, and also commended all of our outstanding educators in K-12 schools across the state for the exemplary work they are doing every day, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Those of us at ND United could not be more proud of the four outstanding finalists for the 2022 ND Teacher of the Year,” Archuleta said. “I do not envy those on the selection committee as choosing the winner will be a difficult task, indeed. As the finalists themselves would surely agree, they represent a profession chock full of creative teachers dedicated to providing our students with what they need to succeed as they take their place in our society. Congratulations to Bret, Heather, Shari and Matt on being named finalists for the 2022 ND Teacher of the Year!”

These finalists were selected from among a group of 40 county Teachers of the Year by an eight-member screening committee, which includes a representative of North Dakota United. The Department of Public Instruction leads the process and announced plans to honor all four finalists this fall at celebrations held at their respective schools. The 2022 ND Teacher of the Year will be selected this fall and honored at a ceremony held at the state Capitol or in the winning teacher’s home community. The Teacher of the Year selection process was put into state law by the Legislature, and can be found online at this link.

North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year will become a candidate for the national Teacher of the Year award, and will also be nominated for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence.