Education Mindset is a new podcast, brought to you by North Dakota United and dedicated to all-things education in North Dakota, from K-12 to higher ed. Your podcast host is ND United Public Affairs Director Tom Gerhardt, a veteran TV news leader, anchor, reporter, storyteller and one of our region’s most trusted voices.
Education in North Dakota changed dramatically March 15 when Governor Doug Burgum, by executive order, announced that K-12 schools would close for a week to help slow the spread of coronavirus. That led to another announcement that school buildings would close indefinitely a week later, and ultimately for the remainder of the school year.
Within only a couple of weeks, districts were asked to develop plans for distance learning that led to the lightning-fast transformation of education in North Dakota.
In an effort to capture a historical snapshot of this unprecedented change, we have selected the McKenzie County Public School District in Watford City to help provide perspective. It’s not the largest district in the state, nor the smallest. It’s in the heart of oil country which brings in students and families from around the world. With plummeting oil prices, the district is dealing with the impacts of layoffs and economic uncertainty — disrupting the school system and the community.
We wondered, as many North Dakota residents are similarly questioning, how are educators educating? In the coming episodes, we’ll hear from high school science teacher Amy Polivka — who’s also the president of the Watford City Education Association. Tom will also be visiting with a school counselor, a middle and high school music teacher, the coordinator of the English learner program, a kindergarten teacher and a library media specialist.
Join us as North Dakota’s educators share their stories of teaching through a pandemic on Education Mindset.
Episode 1 - May 6, 2020
President of the Watford City Education Association and high school science teacher Amy Polivka talks about the double whammy in Watford City — the jolt of the coronavirus and the crash of oil prices — and how they’ve both affected students, families and educators forced into distance learning in a matter of days.
Episode 2 - May 12, 2020
The coronavirus forced an immediate transformation of our education system this spring. For the English Learner department in Watford City—and elsewhere—that meant immediate change. In this episode, EL Coordinator Mari Rasmussen and EL instructor Pamela Albright explain how they’re passionately stayed connected despite the challenges thrown their way.