WEST FARGO-Nanci Dauwen, a math teacher at Sheyenne High School here has been named the 2017 North Dakota Teacher of the Year.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and his wife, Betsy, along with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler were at Sheyenne High School on Thursday, Sept. 29, to honor Dauwen and the three other state finalists - Valley City High School instrumental music director Tom Kjelland; Jennifer Kujanson, a second-grade teacher at Ed Clapp Elementary School in Fargo; and Kristi Mahrer, an English teacher at Wahpeton High School.

"Our young people make up only 25 percent of our population, but they make up 100 percent of our future," Dalrymple said. "That is why the exemplary work of our teachers is so important."

Baesler said Dauwen's application for the award was notable due to the emphasis she put on student relationships.

"She also emphasizes the importance of how strongly students need to support each other," Baesler said.

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Dauwen started her career in education in 1988 in Jamestown. She has been a math teacher in West Fargo since 2005.

Dauwen, who quoted lyrics from her favorite musical, "Wicked," when she addressed Sheyenne students and the district on Thursday, said she always wanted to be a teacher. She spent much of her childhood playing "school" with her sister and today, she gets to live that dream.

"Every day we get to help our students be the best they could be," she said.

Besides teaching at Sheyenne, Dauwen has been involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program, was an adviser to the Student Council, was chairwoman of her school's AdvancED team and is a member of the school leadership team.

"I will do my best to represent West Fargo in the coming year," Dauwen said. "Most importantly, thank you to my family, Wayne, Katie and Amanda, because without your continued support, this would not be possible."

Dauwen was named the 2016-17 Professional Staff Member of the Year for West Fargo Public Schools in March.

Amy Neal, a kindergarten teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Minot was the 2016 state teacher of the year. Dean Aamodt, a music teacher for Wahpeton Public Schools, earned the 2015 honor and Sheyenne English teacher Aaron Knodel was named in 2014.