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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 18 2013

VIDEO: Aaron Knodel named West Fargo Teacher of the Year

By Helmut Schmidt


WEST FARGO – High school English teacher Aaron Knodel is West Fargo School District’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year.

“I was shocked, humbled and honored by it,” said Knodel, surrounded by family members who had made it to West Fargo High School on Monday despite the blizzard conditions whipping the region.

Knodel figured he’d just be taking part in teacher training.

“I had no idea this was going on,” he said.

Knodel teaches English and debate. He also advises the West Fargo High School Student Congress, and the Trivia Team (which participates in High School Challenge, Knowledge Bowl and the recent History Bee and Bowl).

He’s taught at West Fargo High School since 2004, though he also student-taught there in 2001 and taught at Fargo’s private Shanley High School for a time.

“Aaron is a very dedicated teacher,” Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis said.

“He has the skill and expertise, the art and the science” of being able to teach students from both ends of the learning spectrum, challenged or advanced,” she said. “And not everyone can do that.”

High School Principal Gary Clark called Knodel “a phenomenal choice” for the honor and a leader among his peers.

“Aaron has just been an outstanding teacher for us,” Clark said.

“He is the kind of leader that inspires kids.”

Knodel said he’d like to see more “respect for teachers and what it is we do.”

Lawmakers should put more emphasis on improving the quality of teachers and rewarding teachers whose students perform well, he said.

Knodel often is asked how he can teach both children who are challenged and those who are exceptional in the classroom.

“You always teach a kid where they’re at,” Knodel said. Both ends of the learning spectrum “require a bit more of you as a teacher, and I enjoy that challenge.”

The Beulah (N.D.) High School graduate has a bachelor’s degree in English from North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in curriculum instruction from St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

Knodel now is eligible to become the North Dakota Teacher of the Year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583