Immigrant educator honored as ND Teacher of the Year

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Many times, teaching inspires students to achieve goals that might seem impossible. On Monday, one North Dakota teacher was honored as an inspiration to other educators after she conquered odds that might be considered insurmountable by many.

An example of the American dream was used to describe Ivona Todorovic as she received the North Dakota Teacher of the Year Award.

“Your heart can not be turned off, I just wanted to do this. And that’s how everything started,” said Todorovic.

Todorovic grew up in Bosnia. When the country erupted into war in the early 1990s, she taught elementary students while bombings were happening.

“Little traumas and things my students went through back there, and I with them. In a way, just prepared me to say, you know what, I’m not going to give up,” said Todorovic.

In 1995, Todorovic arrived in Grand Forks as a refugee. In 2005, she started working as the English language teacher at Red River High School.

“To pass on what they have, which is that love of learning onto their students,” said Governor Doug Burgum.

Todorovic says she has learned generosity, patience, love, and kindness through her students. She can relate to her students who are refugees since she was once one herself.

“They have so little and they give so much and they taught me that,” said Todorovic.

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

The applications for the 2024 North Dakota Teacher of the Year open in January.