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Todorovic Named 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year

News Release        

For Immediate Release

September 19, 2022

Todorovic Named 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Ivona Todorovic, an English Language (EL) teacher at Red River High School, has been selected as the 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year.

The announcement was made this morning by North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and Governor Doug Burgum in the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall. A ceremony was held to celebrate Todorovic and the three other finalists for the award: Abby DuBord (Burleigh County), Megan Margerum (Cass County), and Megan Wald (Emmons County).

Todorovic will succeed Bret Dockter, a 6th grade teacher from Harvey, as North Dakota Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year selection process is detailed in state law (NDCC 15.1-02-21). The finalists were interviewed by an eight-member screening committee. In May, Baesler honored teachers from across North Dakota as county Teachers of the Year. The four state Teacher of the Year finalists were drawn from that group.

Todorovic was named Grand Forks Public Schools Teacher of the Year and Grand Forks County Teacher of the Year this spring.

Todorovic will become a candidate for the national Teacher of the Year award, which is selected by the Council of Chief State School Officers, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents state education interests.

Todorovic will also receive a $15,000 grant to use for promoting the teaching profession.

Todorovic began her career with Grand Forks Public Schools in 1995 and worked as a para-educator through May 2003. She was re-hired in August 2005 as an EL teacher. She has worked at Century Elementary School, South Middle School, and Red River High School. She is also the head of the EL department head at Red River.

“Ivona is a true believer that students are capable of more than they give themselves credit for,” Andrea Eklund, high school literacy coach, shared in her nomination letter. “She helps students understand their reading levels but pushes them out of their comfort zones by encouraging them to read up when opportunities present themselves. She makes sure to provide a variety of texts and writing assignments to stretch students' reading and writing skills as well as their critical thinking skills.”

Todorovic has co-taught classes with a number of teachers at Red River High School. Co-teaching is a collaborative practice where two teachers, often a general educator and a specialist, work together to plan, organize, and deliver instruction. Todorovic has provided professional development on the co-teaching model for her colleagues.

“This year, I had the privilege to collaborate with Ivona and another teacher for a co-teaching semester-long professional development class,” said Eklund. “She saw a need to support teachers who were asked to co-teach classes. She brought her expertise as an EL teacher and co-teacher as we created content that would support all students in an inclusive classroom setting. I learned so much from her experiences and knowledge, and the teachers who took the course said the same.”

In her nomination, Jamilee Morseth (science teacher, Red River High School) wrote, “I co-taught EL Biology with Ivona for seven years. She made me a better teacher by creating engaging lessons for our students. She helps with the cultural aspect of all her students by helping them maintain and respect their cultures while succeeding in the United States. She collaborates with her student’s families weekly and actually goes to their houses to provide support for both the students and their families.”

Todorovic’s passion extends beyond the classroom.

“Ivona is deeply invested in supporting her students,” said Eklund. “The Building Bridges program at Red River hosts a Celebrating Our Cultures event annually, and the preparation, coordination, and time that is required is truly something to admire. From providing students with spaces to practice their performances to coordinating with families and businesses to donate supplies and food, Ivona's involvement has helped the event grow. This is a night where students can showcase their cultures and share it with the community.”

Todorovic is also a part-time instructor in the teaching and leadership department at the University of North Dakota, where she teaches cultural diversity courses.