Ivona Todorovic, an English Learners (EL) teacher at Red River High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota, has been awarded the prestigious title of 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler during a ceremony held at the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall to celebrate Todorovic and other finalists; Abby DuBord, a first-grade teacher at Bismarck’s Elk Ridge Elementary, Megan Margerum, a third-grade English teacher at Northern Cass Public School and Megan Wald, a Linton High School business education instructor.
Describing her passion for teaching, Todorovic expressed, “Seeing the progress kids make every day, how they grow into independent learners and acquire academic language — that’s the most rewarding aspect of my job.” Her dedication to her students and her commitment to making a difference in their lives have been instrumental in her selection for this esteemed honor.
Governor Burgum lauded Todorovic for the impact she has made on her students, the Grand Forks community, and the entire state. He remarked, “Mrs. Todorovic has made an enormous impact on her students, on the Grand Forks community, and the entire state through her passion for teaching students the English language and the skills they need to succeed in life, while giving them the opportunity to embrace and share their cultures with the community.”
State School Superintendent Baesler commended Todorovic’s dedication and advocacy for her students, stating, “Congratulations, Mrs. Todorovic, for being a champion for your students, and for being the 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Thank you for the work that you do for our young people.”
Ivona Todorovic’s journey as an educator has been marked by resilience and a deep sense of purpose. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, she and her husband sought refuge in the United States during a tumultuous period of war and ethnic conflict in their home country. Since arriving in Grand Forks in 1995, Todorovic has been an integral part of the community and the Grand Forks school district.
Her impact extends beyond the classroom as she actively engages with the community and fosters cultural understanding. Todorovic has organized district-wide professional development sessions, offering guidance to general education teachers on effective strategies for working with new Americans and immigrant students. She also initiated “Culture Night” at Red River, an event that has become a community-wide celebration where her students can proudly share their cultures through various artistic expressions.
Todorovic’s colleagues and students hold her in high regard. Jamilee Morseth, a science teacher at Red River High School, praised Todorovic’s collaborative approach and dedication to her students’ well-being, noting, “She collaborates with her student’s families weekly and actually goes to their houses to provide support for both the students and their families.”
As the 2023 North Dakota Teacher of the Year, Ivona Todorovic will now represent the state as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. Her selection reflects not only her exceptional teaching abilities but also her steadfast commitment to her students’ success, her dedication to promoting cultural diversity and her profound impact on the education community in North Dakota.