Fargo South Teacher Wins State’s Top Honor for Educators

Leah Juelke, an ESL Teacher, won the 2018 North Dakota Teacher of the Year Award

FARGO, ND — A Fargo South teacher has won the highest award for an educator in North Dakota.

Her work gave a voice to New American students’ struggles in their native countries and their immigration to the U–S.

Teaching can be a thankless profession at times; however, the Teacher of the Year Award is written into North Dakota law because the state wants to make sure the public never forgets the importance of teachers.

“Teachers have such a profound impact on young people’s lives.  They can not only change what they learn, but how they approach life, how they become a citizen and can set the trajectory for the rest of their lives,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Leah Juelke is one of nearly 10 thousand teachers in North Dakota and despite winning this prestigious award, she says she’ll remain humble and be ready to serve her students the best way she can.

“I’m actually speechless and that doesn’t happen often because I’m the debate and speech and Congress coach, so I’d have to say it’s quite an unbelievable honor,” said Leah Juelke.  “It’s something that I never thought would happen so early in my career as a teacher and I’m just truly humbled.”

Juelke also works as an ESL teacher and allows her students to share their stories about coming to America.

“With the opportunities that this is going to give me to not only speak the praises of our North Dakota school system but also be able to help educate people about diversity and about those New Americans coming into the country,” said Juelke.

“These are students that have come from refugee camps, who have survived war, who have lost family members, and not only teaching English, this is about the American dream,” said Burgum.

A dream made that much more possible because of teachers like Leah Juelke.

Juelke was the teacher in charge of the “Journey to America” and “Green Card Voices” projects that gave New American students a chance to tell their story of how they came to America.

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