Kristi Reinke Named 2021 North Dakota Teacher of the Year
BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 21, 2020 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Gov. Doug Burgum announced Monday that Kristi Reinke, a social studies teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot, has been named the 2021 North Dakota Teacher of the Year.
Reinke was chosen from a group of four finalists for the annual honor. The other three were Jana Gudmundson, a technology integration specialist and instructional coach at Park River Area Schools; Dana Kasowski, a Wahpeton Middle School special education teacher; and Cory Volk, a science teacher at Bismarck’s South Central High School.
“Every day, Mrs. Reinke’s goal is to do her best to create a sense of community, in her classroom, the hallways, with her colleagues, and within her district,” Baesler said. “She believes it is important to lead by example and to set the foundation for positive relationships with everyone around her.
“Ms. Reinke is a shining example of the best our teaching profession has to offer, in North Dakota or anywhere else in our country,” Baesler said.
Baesler has expanded the state’s Teacher of the Year program as part of her efforts to celebrate, honor, and recognize North Dakota teachers. She sought nominations for the honor from across North Dakota, and earlier named Teachers of the Year from 19 counties. Four of those county Teachers of the Year were named as finalists for the state honor.
An eight-member selection committee interviewed the finalists and chose Reinke as the 2021 Teacher of the Year. She succeeds Sara Medalen, a reading and math interventionist at Sunnyside Elementary School in Minot.
Reinke thanked her family, colleagues, and students during the ceremony. “I am thankful to get to explore another path along my teacher journey,” she said.
“I am thankful to my colleagues at Minot Public Schools, and especially to my co-workers at Jim Hill Middle School. And I mean everybody,” she said. “I hear you and I see you. You inspire me every single day and push me to be a better teacher.“ Being a teacher is where I belong,” she continued. “Something else I know, with all the unknown and the uncertainty of the school year, I am certain more than ever that teachers are unbelievable.
Burgum said that Reinke “not only embraces the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child, she lives it every day in her classroom, creating a sense of community with her students and colleagues and laying the foundation for positive relationships that lead to positive outcomes. We’re grateful for Mrs. Reinke and all of these passionate and dedicated finalists who care deeply about their students and empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to reach their fullest potential.”
Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United, which represents teachers and public employees, said North Dakotans have been grateful for educators’ response to the pandemic. “Your commitment to excellence in education and your dedication to creating loving, safe, creative learning spaces for your students has earned you the admiration and respect of all North Dakotans,” Archuleta said. “I think there is a newfound appreciation for what it is that you do every day in your classroom, how creative you are, how much you inspire your students, and how much you love your students.”
Reinke is now a candidate for the national Teacher of the Year award, which is named by the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. The organization typically names four finalists in January and the national Teacher of the Year honoree in the spring.