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DSU and DHS leaders presented with award by Governor Burgum

Dickinson State University president, Steve Easton, in conjunction with Dickinson High School principal Kevin Hoherz, were selected to receive the #InnovativeND Award for System Transformation for his efforts toward revolutionizing education in Southwest North Dakota. State Governor Doug Burgum presented the award to Easton and Hoherz during the fifth annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education held at the Bismarck Event Center on Monday, June 7, 2021.

DSU and DHS were recognized for providing students with access to programming that include welding, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) courses as part of a dual mission designation aimed at providing a responsive action to the challenges facing the Western Edge's workforce needs. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
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North Dakota's Gov. Doug Burgum celebrated the fifth annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education, highlighting recently passed legislation paving the way for personalized learning while thanking educators for their work throughout the pandemic.

The Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education provided a platform to bring together stakeholders in North Dakota education communities to share existing ideas and practices, inspire new ones and empower networks that support progress.

The 5th annual Governor's Summit on Innovative Education included an emphasis on computer science within K-12 classrooms, as well as celebrated the 2021 legislative session and focused on accelerating learning as the state recovers from the impacts of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With this monumental legislation and K-12 funding passed by the 67th Legislative Assembly, the door is now wide open for school districts to advance efforts to create personalized learning and empower our youth to be career, college and life ready,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to our state’s educators for their amazing work on continuing to provide a top-notch education during this incredibly challenging school year and for their commitment to creating a world-class education system right here in North Dakota.”

The summit also featured the #InnovativeND Award for System Transformation, which was presented to Dickinson State University President Steve Easton and Dickinson High School principal Kevin Hoherz.


Steve Easton.jpg
Dickinson State University President Steve Easton, author of the monthly column “From the Hawks’ Nest”

Gov. Doug Burgum
File photo of Gov. Doug Burgum talking about his vision for North Dakota on Thursday, April 19, 2018. David Samson / The Forum

According to the Office of the Governor, the #InnovativeND awards “recognize students, educators, schools, and districts who lead by example and have embraced innovation for the benefit of our schools and students.”

Easton in his tenure at DSU has worked to strengthen partnerships between DSU and other educational entities in the region, including with local K-12 schools such as Dickinson High School. These efforts, according to a press release by DSU, align with the University’s dual mission designation and allow students access to programming that include welding, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) courses.

The dual mission designation is aimed at providing a responsive action to the challenges facing the Western Edge as workforce needs of the region require certifications in people that were previously difficult to attract to the area.

“We are very enthusiastic about our partnership with Dickinson High School, Stark Development Corporation, and other supporters, which is making it possible for Dickinson High School students to start their education at DSU early,” Easton said. “Our joint DHS/DSU students have done solid work in their college classes, even in the difficult circumstances presented by COVID-19. We look forward to expanding this program with the growth of the DHS Career Academy.”

The audience at the summit were addressed by numerous state and national leaders, including State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler. Attendees were also presented with the opportunity to participate in workshops throughout the day, where over 800 teachers, students, school administrators and community leaders attend in-person or virtually.


“The Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education was a very interesting program that reminded us of the importance of not being satisfied with the status quo, because we owe more to our students,” Easton said. “We are proud to be innovating with DHS and we are working on furthering those efforts with other western North Dakota high schools as we work on the upcoming Career and Technical Education Center and expanding early entry programs for high school students to take DSU courses across our region. For example, we are working with Bowman County High School to have several of their students join a course via remote access this fall. We would love to work with any high school that is interested in starting their students on the path to a college degree.”

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