Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - October 1, 2023

Sheila Peterson of Bismarck’s Wachter Middle School named 2024 North Dakota Teacher of the Year

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, Sheila Peterson and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller high-five after the Teacher of the Year ceremony Thursday in Bismarck.

Sheila Peterson, a physical education teacher and athletics coach at Wachter Middle School in Bismarck, has been named as North Dakota’s 2024 Teacher of the Year, state School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller said in a joint announcement on Thursday.

Peterson will succeed Ivona Todorovic in January as North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year. Todorovic is an English Language teacher at Red River High School in Grand Forks.

“Sheila Peterson follows the philosophy that leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others,” Baesler said. “She wants to help instill confidence and courage in her students and help them to become kind and confident young people. She makes people feel important, acknowledges them, and finds ways to make them feel seen, heard, and validated.”
“Mrs. Peterson is widely respected and renowned for making a lasting, positive impact on her students, instilling a sense of belonging and engaging them in innovative ways to inspire learning and develop skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives,” Miller said. “We are grateful for Mrs. Peterson, her fellow 2024 Teacher of the Year finalists and all North Dakota educators who go above and beyond to prepare our students for a successful future.”

Thursday’s announcement in the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall came at a ceremony held to celebrate Peterson and the three other finalists for the honor: Andee Mattson, a music teacher and choir director at Rugby’s Ely Elementary School; Trisha Schaefer, a sixth-grade math teacher at Ramstad Middle School in Minot; and Megan Wasness, an English teacher at Devils Lake’s Central Middle School.

“Sheila Peterson follows the philosophy that leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others,” Baesler said. “She wants to help instill confidence and courage in her students and help them to become kind and confident young people. She makes people feel important, acknowledges them, and finds ways to make them feel seen, heard, and validated.”

Peterson has been a physical education teacher, athletics coach and reading strategies educator at Wachter since 2010. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., and a master’s degree in technology for education and training from the University of South Dakota. Before taking her position at Wachter, she taught physical education at middle schools in Huron, S.D., and Chamberlain, S.D.

Aside from coaching basketball, volleyball and track and teaching physical education, Peterson works with students to improve their reading and academic planning skills.

Peterson “is what teaching is all about,” said Logan Schaubert, a Bismarck High School alumnus who was a student in Peterson’s sixth-grade physical education class at Wachter. He said he considers her the most impactful educator he has known.

“She puts the kids first, leaving positive and life-changing messages whenever you speak with her,” Schaubert said.

Erik Hanson, a Wachter math teacher, said he “cannot overstate (Peterson’s) impact at Wachter Middle School and the greater Bismarck-Mandan community.”

“I have no doubt that Mrs. Peterson educates everyone she encounters, whether intentional or not,” Hanson said. “She draws people in, makes them feel safe, heard, (and) understood, and guides them in whatever way she is able. Education is not solely her career, it is who she is as a person.”

The work of choosing the 2024 Teacher of the Year began last spring, when Baesler invited nominations for County Teachers of the Year. Forty-two North Dakota educators were subsequently honored as Teachers of the Year from their respective counties.

The four finalists for the state Teacher of the Year award were picked from among the group of 42 educators, including Peterson, who was chosen as Burleigh County Teacher of the Year.

The state Teacher of the Year was chosen by an eight-member screening committee of education stakeholders, who reviewed their applications and interviewed the finalists. The process is outlined in North Dakota law, NDCC 15.1-02-21.

Burgum highlights North Dakota's key role in U.S. energy security during the American Energy Security Summit

Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday delivered a keynote address highlighting North Dakota's important role in U.S. energy security during the inaugural American Energy Security Summit.

The summit at the Hamm Institute for American Energy in Oklahoma City was attended by more than 300 energy industry representatives and stakeholders, including many doing business in North Dakota.

"It's your investment, it's your risk-taking, it's your work that you've done that's turned North Dakota into an energy powerhouse," Burgum said, noting North Dakota remains the nation's No. 3 oil producing state and set a record for natural gas production in July. "We need reliable, affordable domestic energy. That's absolutely core to what we have to do in our country."

Miller announces opening of public input portal for Red Tape Reduction 2.0, partnership with GNDC

Public input is now being accepted for the second round of Gov. Doug Burgum’s Red Tape Reduction initiative aimed at eliminating unnecessary and outdated regulations, rules, policies and procedures to make government more efficient and effective and help lower costs for taxpayers, Lt. Gov. Miller announced on Wednesday.

Burgum created the Red Tape Reduction Working Group by executive order in August 2022. With representatives from 34 state agencies, the group reviewed state law, administrative rules and internal policies and procedures to identify opportunities to reduce burdensome red tape. Of the roughly 500 ideas submitted by Team ND and the public, 385 received internal or legislative action, including 52 bills advanced by the working group – 51 of which were signed by the governor – and about 40 additional approved bills that reduced red tape during the 2023 legislative session.

Red Tape Reduction 2.0 (RTR 2.0) will continue this momentum by focusing on greater business and citizen engagement. Additionally, five state agencies will pilot an effort to obtain feedback immediately following the delivery of services by the pilot group agencies, Miller announced during Wednesday's Greater North Dakota Chamber Policy Summit in Bismarck. A survey through GNDC’s Dakota Digest was also made available to GNDC members seeking input to reduce red tape.

“After making significant progress last session, we look forward to building on that success. RTR 2.0 will have an even stronger emphasis on gathering input directly from the business community and citizens across our state who experience firsthand the burden of red tape,” Miller said. “We encourage citizens and businesses to visit the portal at www.governor.nd.gov/redtapereduction and provide their input on how we can streamline regulations, rules, policies and procedures to make state government more efficient and effective and help every North Dakotan reach their full potential.”

Burgum continues urging National Park Service to keep wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Public comment now being accepted on draft environmental assessment

Gov. Burgum released the following statement Tuesday after the National Park Service (NPS) announced that the public comment period is now open on its draft environmental assessment related to the herds of wild horses and cattle within Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The public comment period closes Oct. 25.

“We continue to urge the National Park Service to maintain a herd of wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just as wild horses roamed those lands during Roosevelt’s transformative years in the Badlands, when President Truman signed the bill creating the park in 1947 and when it received official national park status in 1978,” Burgum said. “These horses are a hugely popular tourist attraction, embodying the untamed spirit of the Badlands while also reminding us of the deep ties to Roosevelt’s ranching and conservation legacy. As we’ve expressed repeatedly to the NPS and Director Sams, the state remains ready and willing to collaborate with the Park Service to keep wild horses in the park in a manner and number that supports genetic diversity and protects the park for visitors now and long into the future.”

Burgum held a press conference on Jan. 30 with tourism officials, state legislators and other stakeholders to bring attention to the issue, submitting a letter the same day urging the NPS to maintain a herd of wild horses at the park. The governor later reiterated his position in a phone call with NPS Director Charles Sams and has continued to push agency officials to allow wild horses at the park, stressing their importance to the state’s tourism industry and their deep historical and cultural connections to the park and Roosevelt himself.

North Dakota legislators in April also passed a resolution urging the Secretary of the Interior and the director of the NPS to modify its livestock management plan and “continue to allow for interpretative, cultural, and historical purposes a herd of longhorn steers in the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the presence of a wild horse herd in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.”

Burgum statement on North Dakota Supreme Court opinion requiring special session of Legislature

Gov. Burgum issued the following statement Thursday after the North Dakota Supreme Court issued an opinion invalidating Senate Bill 2015, the Office of Management and Budget’s appropriations bill.

“As acknowledged by the Supreme Court, this decision has far-reaching consequences that will require a special session of the Legislative Assembly to enact the nearly 70 sections of the OMB bill that have now been voided,” Burgum said. “We’re arranging meetings with legislative leaders today to determine the best course of action for the Legislature to address the business at hand in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”