Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 04:45 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (AUG. 14, 2019) – Gov. Doug Burgum today kicked off the third annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education, a two-day event focused on sharing best practices and addressing behavioral health challenges in the classroom. 


More than 500 people registered to attend the free public summit at Jamestown High School, including teachers, administrators, legislators, behavioral health professionals, parents and students.


“North Dakota continues to make tremendous progress in implementing and sharing innovative education practices as we build on the momentum of the previous two summits, the recommendations of the Innovative Education Task Force and related legislation,” Burgum said, highlighting the 2019 Legislature’s passage of SB 2215, which creates a K-12 Education Coordinating Council. Applications for the council are now being accepted through the governor’s website at


”This year’s summit also shines a spotlight on the significant challenges posed by behavioral health issues in the classroom,” Burgum added. “By sharing best practices and learning from one another, we can tackle these challenges, identify new opportunities to improve student outcomes and become a national leader in education.”


The second day of the summit will focus on behavioral health in an educational setting. Among the featured speakers will be Dr. Stuart Ablon, director of Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor and Thomas G. Stemberg Endowed Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who will address the topic of school discipline.


“The Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education helps to showcase the successes that we have in North Dakota public education, and how we are striving to improve it for our students and families,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said. “This involves listening to the voices of our students, our families, our educators and our taxpayers as we move forward. I am also grateful for the Summit’s focus on behavioral health issues in our schools, which our educators have identified as something that needs to be addressed urgently.”


For the second consecutive year, #InnovativeND Awards also were presented during the summit to recognize outstanding work being done by North Dakota educators to prepare students for success in a global economy being driven by rapid technological change. The recipients are:

  • Classroom Leadership Award: Marie Snyder of Devils Lake Public Schools, and fellow teachers John McLaurin and Kristine Bommersbach, for incorporating real-world learning applications that take advantage of North Dakota’s great outdoors.
  • Student Leadership Award: Natasha Willardson, a junior at Williston Public Schools, for her work in STEM education including robotics and programming, and for her leadership in her school’s Girls Go Cyberstart team during the national competition.
  • Building Leadership Award: New Town Middle School Teaching Team led by Principal Kara Four Bear, for redesigning the educational experience, integrating technology and engaging their community, including implementing a National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center curriculum.
  • District Leadership Award: Dale Hoerauf, CTE director with Bismarck Public Schools and Bismarck Career Academy, for his key role in leading his district and the state in career and technical education, introducing students and the community to the ever-increasing range of career opportunities and preparing the next generation for success in the 21st century workforce.


Burgum expressed his gratitude for the summit’s partners – the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division, North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, ND United and North Dakota School Boards Association – and its sponsor, the Bush Foundation.


The summit continues through tomorrow with a focus on behavioral health. Registration is free and attendees can register on-site at Jamestown High School.