MAPLETON, N.D. - Mapleton third-grade teacher Kayla Delzer has been named North Dakota’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.
Delzer was presented the award by Gov. Doug Burgum and state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler during an assembly in the rural Cass County school’s gymnasium Tuesday, Sept. 25.
“I’m super grateful. Super humbled. Honored. Most importantly, excited to go to work for North Dakota, for the teachers and kids that I serve. Just so thankful,” Delzer said.
“I just hope that kids love school and that they love learning,” Delzer said, adding that she wants students to feel that they are in “a safe place to take risks. Know that you’re loved. Know that there’s nothing you can do that will make me love you less. Go for it. Be excited about it.”
Delzer, now in her 11th year of teaching, has taught in Mapleton since 2016, after teaching in West Fargo and Thief River Falls, Minn.
Baesler said the thing that made Delzer rise to the top of this year’s crop of Teacher of the Year candidates was her approach to learning.
“The acknowledgment that she didn’t need to know everything. That she was a learner, too. And that she was learning every day from her seven- and eight-year-olds in her classroom.” Baesler said. “She lets them learn together, and explore together. And I think that’s where we’re at in the 21st century.”
Burgum said Delzer “does a tremendous job of embracing technology and using innovative methods to empower and challenge her students, instilling in them a love of lifelong learning and preparing them to succeed in a 21st century economy.”
Delzer’s popular blog, TopDogTeaching.com, is approaching 2 million views. She also has more than 31,000 followers on her @topdogteaching Twitter account. Her TEDx talk, “Reimagining Classrooms: Students as Leaders and Teachers as Learners,” has surpassed 208,000 views.
The state Teacher of the Year program is administered by the Department of Public Instruction. Delzer will represent North Dakota in the national competition. The national Teacher of the Year will be named sometime this spring, a spokeswoman for the Council of Chief State School Officers said Tuesday.
“A wonderful day for Kayla Delzer, for Mapleton Elementary School, and for our community,” Mapleton Administrator Tim Jacobson said after the ceremony. “I think the kids really appreciated what they saw.”
The other finalists for the honor were Annette Hovey, music director at New Rockford-Sheyenne High School; Sara Medalen, a Title 1 reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot; and Leslye Thiery, a fifth-grade teacher at Discovery Elementary School in Grand Forks.
Delzer’s work with classroom redesign and flexible seating has gained national attention. She is a Global Hundred Award recipient, designating her as one of the top 100 innovative educators worldwide. She co-authored the best-selling book “Education Write Now” and is writing a book about classroom learning spaces and flexible seating, titled “FlexEd.” The New York Times called her “one of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States.”