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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 17 2013

North High English teacher named Fargo's 2013 Teacher of the Year

FARGO – A North High School English teacher is the 2013 Teacher of the Year for the Fargo School District.

David Midgarden, a 40-year veteran in Fargo’s schools, drew a standing ovation from students and staff as the award was announced at a school assembly Wednesday.

Superintendent Jeff Schatz had been a student of Midgarden at what was Ben Franklin Junior High School.

Schatz called the award an outstanding “recognition of a 40-year veteran to our district and all the great things he’s done for our school district, our students, our community, families. I’m just very pleased for him.”

Principal Andy Dahlen called Midgarden “a passionate and dedicated” teacher, and not a seeker of the spotlight.

Midgarden said he was surprised by the honor.

“It was both a wonderful and a stressful time,” he said of the announcement.

Midgarden, 62, has worked in the district for his entire career. He spent 33 years at what now is Ben Franklin Middle School teaching English and journalism, then moved to North High in 2006 to teach English.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve taught my entire career on the north side,” he told the crowd, thanking parents, students and staff.

Midgarden said he has taught more than 5,000 students, and believes in life-long learning.

“If you’re still breathing, you’re learning. If you give up on learning, you’ve given up on life,” he said.

North Assistant Principal Kathy Cieslak said writing a letter of recommendation for Midgarden was “one of the easiest” she had ever done.

“He recognizes students that he had 20 years ago, 30 years ago, just as much as someone he had last year,” Cieslak said, calling him an advocate for kids, a lifelong learner, and “an effective and well-loved teacher.”

Midgarden likes what computers bring to the classroom, but believes it’s the human connection that makes the greatest impact in teaching.

“I personally place great value on an adult and a child, a piece of paper, a pencil and a book,” Midgarden said.

Midgarden was born in Fargo and raised in Moorhead, where he graduated from high school in 1969.

He then attended Minnesota State University Moorhead, graduating in 1973 with a degree in English education.

He then started teaching at Ben Franklin.

“It’s gone by very fast,” he said of his time in front of the classroom. “We have wonderful kids, and I’m privileged to have so many” in my classes.

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