North Dakota’s education system, much like the rest of the world, faced ahistorical challenges in 2020, but quickly found novel approaches to continue to teach despite the pandemic.
While most school programs are designed to provide education using empirical methods of learning effectiveness in groups, some students need a little extra help in the form of individual learning in smaller classroom settings, extra help from teachers and more. The Hebron school system has taken the small classroom setting model to great academic success.
Located in the small town of Hebron, N.D., about 40 minutes east of Dickinson, Hebron Public School’s elementary, junior and high school students enter the same building, where K-12 education is provided by award winning faculty and staff.
With the average class size of approximately 12 students, teachers are able to spend more time with students requiring that extra assistance or for those with specific needs. By proxy, students at the school create close knit friendships that often continue long after receiving their high school diploma.
“It’s just a welcoming community in general in our school,” Jenifer Hosman, the principal of Hebron Public School, said. “Every new student in our district that comes, kids are very good. They’re not clicky, they accept new kids and figure out how they fit into things and what activities they can go into.”
Hebron Public School is known for people loving their small town community and the school system. For Hosman and her husband, who moved from Arizona to North Dakota, the re-location that was originally a trial run morphed into a long-haul situation.
“I moved here eight years ago just temporarily thinking, ‘OK, let’s come to North Dakota for a couple of months and see how we like it,’” she said. “We ended up loving it and we bought a house and we live here now.”
With the COVID pandemic heavily affecting the educational field, Hebron, like every school, was forced to adapt to the times and begin online classes via zoom — avoiding in-class lectures.
“We wanted the kids to be able to get into the zoom and get the content that they needed versus forcing our regular schedule down their throat when we knew that was going to be a failure,” Hosman said. “But it worked out really well, … we gave our teachers that initial training, but they took it upon themselves to learn more and then share with one another.”
As a result of their hard work and determination to give the best education possible, Hebron is now back to in-class teaching, however, zoom allows for students to be able to still be in school, even if having to stay home.
“At this point, if a kid is absent now, if they call in by 8 a.m. CST we arrange for them to appear by zoom so they don’t miss class at all. They’re just there via the computer, which is fantastic,” Hosman said. “They don’t get marked absent, they don’t miss the instruction, they can get their homework and they can continue with their life. And then when they’re better they can come back, it’s been super.”
Just like other schools, Hebron features a wide variety of extracurricular activities that students can partake in. Theatre and drama, choir, agriculture within the Future Farmers of America, and arguably its most popular, sports.
While co-existing with its neighboring schools in Glen Ullin for sports such as basketball, and Richardton-Taylor during football, Bearcats athletics is a very well-known and respected part of the entire Hebron community.
Hosman described some of the benefits of having students going through the Hebron Public School system.
“Every kid in our school gets what they need, not what we’re giving everyone,” she said. “The local kids are getting instruction or support that they might need and as well as the kids that are high flyers, they’re able to be pushed a little further because we know that on an intimate level in every subject so we can give them exactly what they need versus what is going to go out.”
Hosman added, “it’s highly unlikely that a kid is going to fall through the cracks here because we know them all. We have systems set up so that if there is a failing class then we’re an alert. We’re going to talk to them, see what the issue is, and how we can help.”
For parents that may be looking for the smaller community, or for a place where their child can get their needs met and still be within a smaller environment, Hebron Public School is the perfect place to go.
“It’s a great place to raise kids in North Dakota,” Hosman said. “Our school is very good … I feel like it’s a great little western North Dakota town.”
For more information regarding Hebron Public School, call 701-878-4442, or log onto https://www.hebron.k12.nd.us/.