The third annual Governor's Summit on Innovative Education will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Jamestown High School. The summit will consist of two parts.

Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to provide opening remarks on the first day of the event. As of Aug. 12, over 425 people are registered for the event, according to Mike Nowatzki, communications director at the office of the Governor of North Dakota. A majority of those registered are teachers and administrators, Nowatzki said.

"This is how we improve the practice of education," said Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools. "A conference like this gives us the opportunity to focus on moving up the bar for education. Both areas are significantly important to education right now."

Part one will focus on instructional practices for personalized learning to prepare students for the 21st century economy and global citizenship. Educators from across North Dakota will present initiatives targeted toward supporting student learning.

Day one speakers include Kayla Dornfeld, North Dakota's teacher of the year, who will conduct a talk on "Making school better than a child's birthday," and Dr. Jeffrey Thake, superintendent of Williston Public School District No. 1, presenting "Deviation from the norm: personalized learning in the wild West".

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"My goal is to create an awareness in education," Thake said. "Students don't all learn the same way. We have a moral obligation to provide these students with an education that they are able to obtain in their own way."

Thake said a primary responsibility as an educator is to allow students to work at their own pace.

"Not all kids learn as well sitting in a row of desks. We want to reimagine the entire concept," Thake said. "Students need to have their own voice and their own choices to channel their inner strengths.

"We want kids to actually look forward to going to school," Thake said.

The second part of the summit on Thursday will focus on behavioral health in the educational setting. Presentations will focus on identifying the early warning signs of emerging mental health conditions as well as providing students with effective resources and support.

“Schools provide a unique opportunity to identify behavioral health conditions and support students where they already are,” said Pam Sagness, director of the Behavioral Health Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services. “There are many opportunities for the behavioral health system and the education system to collaborate in a meaningful way.”

Speakers on day two include Dr. Nicola Herting, mental health director at Red River Children's Advocacy Center, who will present "Changing the trajectory of childhood trauma in North Dakota: What we are doing" and Chris Jones, North Dakota department of human services executive director, presenting "North Dakota's social service redesign: implications for schools."

Nowatzki said Burgum selected Jamestown as the host for the event for several reasons.

"The Jamestown school district is taking a comprehensive approach to innovative education, from student-facing initiatives like student relational mapping, project-based learning and increased access to technology, to operational opportunities to improve health services for staff members – all reflected in the district’s new mission, 'Engaging students with challenging and innovative experiences to prepare them for future success,'" Nowatzki said.

"Holding the summit in Jamestown also highlights that innovation can happen in school districts of any size," Nowatzki said. "The first summit was in Bismarck in 2017 and last year’s summit was at Northern Cass School near Hunter."

The summit is being held in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, ND United, North Dakota School Boards Association and the state Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division. The event is sponsored by the Bush Foundation.

The event is open to the public. A complete schedule is available online at