I want to begin my remarks today by thanking Governor Burgum and Superintendent Baesler for their steadfast support of K-12 education in North Dakota. Please know that your efforts to invest in North Dakota’s future – by investing in K-12 education -is very much appreciated by all North Dakotans. Thank you, too, for hosting this event to recognize these outstanding North Dakota teachers.
That said, allow me to start bragging on the incredible teachers here and their outstanding colleagues across the state whom they represent!
The quality of the work that you have done over the course of the past two years has been nothing short of phenomenal. You went from full time face to face instruction, to full time distance instruction, and back again more competently and professionally than any state in the union. Where you and other teachers were able to pivot on a dime, most states did not fare nearly as well. That says something special about ND where teachers, school boards, administrators, and state government worked together in the interests of our children to develop and implement policies and protocols to keep students safe and learning.
Continuing the important work of educating our children during the COVID pandemic remains a daunting task and all of us at ND United applaud your efforts.
Like all educators, you understand that building relationships with your students lies at the heart of education. The relationships that you form with your students, and that you help them form with each other, will last a lifetime, and help guide them in almost every aspect of their lives. But relationship building is as difficult now as it has ever been for reasons beyond the control of teachers.
- Students are being inundated by misinformation via social media and are witnessing outrageous examples of civic discourse online and in person.
- The disinformation surrounding Covid mitigation efforts and the passions that that debate has inflamed have made your jobs even more difficult.
- Because of the pandemic, the need for expanded behavioral health services is greater than ever for students, as well as their families.
- With the Delta variant affecting young people at a considerably higher rate than did the first iteration of the Coronavirus, families need paid time off to care for kids when they are quarantined.
- And you, the teachers whose work is so critical, need COVID leave when you are forced to quarantine because you came to work and contracted COVID.
- And don’t get me started on the monthly Tik-Tok challenge!
Yes, there are substantial challenges. But you are so inspiring despite these challenges, you get up every morning committed to educating North Dakota! You know that no one gets to their profession without going through YOUR profession first. It’s not easy, but it is absolutely crucial to teach young people to respect each other, to work collaboratively, to accept that our diversity is also our strength. These are vital concepts that we all must understand if we are to ensure that North Dakota becomes the best place in America to raise our children and earn our livings.
So, Matt Nielson, Shari Jerde, Heather Ell, and Bret Dockter, on behalf of all 11,500 members of ND United, Congratulations, and thank you for everything you do every day to educate our kids and lift up our profession.