North Dakota names 2021 Teacher of the Year

The four finalists attended Monday's Teacher of the Year ceremony at the State Capitol.

Bret Dockter, flanked by State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Gov. Doug Burgum, accepted the North Dakota Teacher of the Year award Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, at the state Capitol. Special to The Forum

BISMARCK — Bret Dockter is North Dakota’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, state officials announced Monday, Sept. 27.

Dockter teaches sixth grade at B.M. Hanson Elementary School in the central North Dakota town of Harvey in Wells County. He was one of four finalists who attended Monday's Teacher of the Year ceremony at the State Capitol.

The other finalists were Heather Ell, a first grade teacher at John Hoeven Elementary in Minot; Shari Jerde, a teacher of business education and family and consumer sciences at Grand Forks’ Community High School; and Matthew Nielson, a science teacher at Valley City Junior/Senior High School.

Dockter, 46, has been an educator for 23 years. He teaches social studies, science and math at Hanson, and coaches Harvey High School’s football team. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Minot State University and a master’s from North Dakota State University.

“I think early on in my career, I thought I needed all the answers, and I had all the answers. It is clear now that I never did,” Dockter said in accepting the honor. “I learned much more from (my students) than they have learned from me …. They have challenged me to not become stagnant, but rather give all that I have, because they deserve the best.”


Dockter will be North Dakota’s candidate for the national 2022 Teacher of the Year award.

“He is a firm believer in project-based learning, and of giving students the power to control their own learning,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler. “He loves seeing students find and develop strengths that they didn’t know they had.”

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