Gov. Burgum Holds Second Annual Summit on Innovative Education

It focused on creating personalized lessons for students

HUNTER, N.D. — Governor Burgum’s Second Annual Innovation Education Summit not only celebrates students and educators across the state for what they do every day.

It also highlights what needs to change in North Dakota’s education system.

Fargo South sophomore Abrar Sharfi didn’t just sit by when she saw something she didn’t like at her school.

Instead, she changed it.

“Fargo South is very diverse but when you walk in the lunch rooms, you see everyone’s kind of separated into their own groups and they don’t go out and talk to others. So what I saw in our culture was a barrier,” Sharfi said.

Sharfi broke down that barrier by creating a Culture Day, where school faculty and classmates would get to know each other’s heritage better.

For creating a difference she’s now being honored with a Leadership Award at the Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education.

“It’s a really great thing receiving this award because it shows I, just as a student, can create an impact in our communities and especially my school,” Sharfi said.

In addition to celebrating those in North Dakota’s schools who have an impact every day, the summit also focused on moving away from the traditional model of teaching to a more personalized one for every student.

“If a kid is sitting there for 50 minutes, that doesn’t mean they’re learning for 50 minutes. It’s important to personalize the education for our students and then to provide career connection,” said Leah Juelke, teacher at Fargo South High School.

Each K–12 student would be placed in a class based on their ability instead of their age.

Teachers also wouldn’t give percentage grades to students, so they can really spend the time learning the content instead of trying to cram for a test.

Northern Cass High School is just one campus that has already implemented the new model last year with their eighth and ninth grades.

“I wouldn’t say we’re shifting our paradigm. I’d say we’re blowing it up at Northern Cass,” said Cory Steiner, Northern Cass Superintendent. “It was really about four years ago when we realized kids were getting into college, they’re not getting out and when they are getting out, they’re not working in their passion areas or their major fields. They come out with a massive amount of debt. The model just wasn’t creating the right type of student.”

Northern Cass will implement a Parent Task Force and Community Task Force next year to help implement the model throughout the rest of the school.

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