<< All News Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 04:15 pm

DICKINSON, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and fellow speakers at the sixth annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education today emphasized the importance of equipping students with the essential skills for life and learning and ensuring that graduates are choice-ready for college, career or the military.

The governor welcomed nearly 300 educators, students, administrators and community leaders to the daylong summit at Dickinson Middle School – the first time the summit has been held west of Bismarck. More than 500 people registered for the event, including virtual attendees.

Burgum highlighted how funding proposed in his Accelerate ND plan and approved by the state Legislature last year is investing $88 million into career academies across the state. The funding, which was awarded by the State Board for Career and Technical Education and must be matched with local funds from public and private partners, includes $3.3 million for the Southwest Area Career and Technical Education Academy in Dickinson.

“School districts, colleges and their community and private-sector partners are joining forces to create workforce centers that are inclusive of community needs, drive industry degrees that fill workforce gaps, and support employability skills and adult learning,” Burgum said. “These facilities have the potential to transform how education is delivered and received in our state.”

The featured speaker for today’s summit was retired Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, who shared how the essential skills for life and learning are critical to the success and well-being of every child. The four-star general discussed his involvement with the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development report and how every adult can be a champion for kids. 

McKinley also is participating in an afternoon panel discussion with Joel Honeyman, vice president of global innovation for Doosan Bobcat North America, and Bismarck State College President Doug Jensen on the importance of ensuring that high school graduates are choice-ready.

Legislation approved last year gave school districts new opportunities to implement personalized, competency-based education and capitalize on innovation to drive student results, Burgum noted. This includes the “learn everywhere” bill, which allows graduation credits to be fulfilled through internships, apprenticeships, extracurriculars, clubs and other educational opportunities, and the “Pathways to Graduation” bill – the No. 1 recommendation provided by the Governor’s Innovative Education Task Force – which gives students additional flexibility in meeting graduation requirements. 

“We encourage more schools to take advantage of the flexibility and tools made available through recent legislation to create lifelong learners, address our workforce challenges and strengthen North Dakota’s economy, communities and families,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful to our state’s educators, school board leaders, parents and community partners for their commitment to creating a world-class education system in North Dakota.”


Burgum also presented the #InnovativeND Awards to the following individuals:

  • Frontline Innovation Award: Jerica Smith and Bryce Wygert, teachers and co-leaders of Future City, South Heart Public Schools
  • Collaborative Culture: Jake Snyder and Teresa Black Cloud, restorative practice leads, West Fargo Public Schools
  • System Transformation: Kerri Zahrbock, school counselor, Lisbon Public School District
  • Student Leadership: Dante Domine, president of Dickinson High School Student Council and vice president of Dickinson Youth Commission, Dickinson Public Schools
  • Pathways Innovation: Mackenzie Tadych, director of college, career and life readiness, Northern Cass Public School.

The Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education provides a platform to bring together stakeholders across North Dakota communities to share existing ideas and practices, inspire new ones and empower networks that support transformation. The free summit is part of Innovative Education Week, which includes IgniteND.

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