Monday, June 17, 2024 - 05:13 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today kicked off the eighth annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education at the National Energy Center of Excellence at Bismarck State College, highlighting progress made during his administration to support and encourage innovative education practices and policies to improve student outcomes and prepare students to be choice-ready for college, careers or the military.

The theme of this year’s event is "Navigating the Future: AI's Role in Education." Keynote speakers and breakout sessions focused on empowering educators to use AI as a tool to transform the classroom and addressed the challenges that accompany the technology.

In his keynote address, Burgum outlined the innovative policies and programs adopted during the past eight years to provide school districts with flexibility to enhance student-centered, personalized learning, including innovative education waivers, Graduation Pathways and a first-in-the-nation choice ready framework; significant investments in career academies, early childhood education including Best in Class grant awards, and behavioral health; and the creation of the K-12 Coordination Council as recommended by the Innovative Education Task Force created by Burgum in 2017. 

“With great support from our legislators, we have driven a lot of change to help our students be choice ready,” Burgum said, encouraging more school districts to utilize the innovative education tools available. “What we’ve done is try to cut the red tape so that innovation can thrive. We’ve laid a foundation for fostering this innovation, and we should be really celebrating how this working as one has created positive change, because we believe in innovation over regulation.”

Keynote speakers included:

  • Pat Yongpradit (yung-PRAH-dit), the chief academic officer for who is now leading TeachAI, a global initiative to provide guidance on integrating AI in education. 
  • Matt Kirchner (KIRK-ner), host of the weekly TechEd Podcast and president of ATS/LAB Midwest, a leading distributor of world-class curriculum, eLearning and training equipment.
  • Melody Schopp (shop), director of education industry consulting at North Carolina-based data and AI provider SAS and a former classroom teacher and South Dakota Secretary of Education from 2011 to 2017. 

The governor also announced recipients of the #InnovativeND Awards throughout the day. The categories and recipients are:

  • Frontline Innovation – Leah Wheeling, physical education teacher at Bismarck Public Schools, for using purposeful physical activity to transform students’ ability to engage in the classroom and lead a healthy lifestyle in and out of school. She hosts morning activity time for her students and has planned fundraisers for equipment needs, hosted opportunities for family fun nights, and even coordinated game bags that families can bring home to spend quality time together.
  • Collaborative Culture – The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI), for continuing to seek out new learning, models, grants and external partners that create an incubator of thoughts and ideas. The agency also has prioritized listening to those in the field and building relationships through several cabinets, including the Student Cabinet, and fulfilling its commitment to the values of “Building Relationships, Cultivating Opportunity and Inspiring Growth.” 
  • System Transformation – The North Dakota Personalized, Competency-Based Learning cohort, comprised of Oakes Public Schools, the Marmot School, Northern Cass Public Schools, West Fargo Public Schools and DPI. This multi-year commitment from four school districts served as an incubator to focus on the individual strengths, needs and interests of learners in order to graduate all students choice ready. 
  • Student Leadership – Susie Schug, a senior at Williston High School, who, with her mother, founded a FIRST Lego League Robotics program seven years ago, which has grown to over 40 students on four teams. Schug also co-founded the nonprofit Williston Robotics, which provides kids ages 9-18 opportunities to compete in robotics competitions, offers summer camps for kids ages 6-16 to explore and enhance their robotics and STEM skills, organizes Hour of Code events and competes in the statewide cybersecurity competition. 
  • Pathways Innovation – Colleen Daley, who oversees the district career exploration plan for K-12 and provides direct career services to grades 9-12 for Beulah Public Schools, for emphasizing choice-ready pathways. She has utilized many career programs such as job shadowing, RU Ready, EverFi, grade-level college campus and industry tours, job fairs, senior mock job interviews, and free college application day, and also hosted various parent presentations for financial aid and behavioral health topics and staff presentations for career-ready classes and work-based learning.