The Learning Curve

News and updates from the College of Education and Human Development .

Birth of a Blog / 2022 In Review

Welcome to The Learning Curve!

Your go-to source for news and information about UND’s College of Education and Human Development


The Learning Curve is YOUR definitive resource for:

  • News and information about education efforts at UND, in North Dakota, and beyond
  • Upcoming events at the college as well as important events in the field of education
  • Stories about the amazing work and achievements of our students, faculty, and staff

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Education Building in winter at the University of North Dakota.

2022 in Review

Before ushering in 2023, CEHD takes a look back at significant events and milestones achieved in 2022.


OTRR Office Opens for Business

The Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention (OTRR) was created within CEHD to address the loss of qualified and trained individuals from the teaching profession, a trend that is seen not just in North Dakota but nationwide.


Ashley Smalley, OTRR Director and Dr. Cindy Juntunen, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at UND, appear on North Dakota Today to discuss teacher shortages and solutions Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.


Director Ashley Smalley and Outreach Specialist Monte Gaukler both came on board in Sept. 2022 and have worked diligently to reach out to North Dakota educators to address educator concerns and develop solutions. Visit OTRR’s page to learn more about their efforts.


CEHD Professor Publishes Book on Visual Impairment

Dr. Renae Bjorg, Assistant Professor in Special Education, published a second edition of “Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading”. This update comes 40 years after the original publication authored by Dr. Myrna Olson, who is also credited as a co-author of the updated publication. This book garnered a lot of attention in the educational community, including a write-up in the Grand Forks Herald.





CEHD 2022 Scholarship Awards Ceremony

“If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.” – Jane Goodall

On Sept. 29, an awards ceremony and luncheon was held at Memorial Union to honor the recipients of 97 CEHD scholarships. Their hard work paid off to the tune of over $130K in awards for the 2022-23 academic year. Sherry Houdek, Interim Associate Dean of Student Services, emceed a program that featured UND’s Allegro Women’s Chorus, acknowledgements of donors, professors, and advisors in attendance, and thank you videos from all awarded students. View photos of the event here.




Future Educators of the University of North Dakota (FEUND)

This fall, FEUND worked with CEHD’s Office of Student Services to generate a huge turnout of students to march in UND’s annual Homecoming Parade!

Later in the semester, FEUND partnered with OTRR to present Learn More: a Talk with Teachers in the Field. This six-member hour-long panel discussion allowed a student audience to upvote questions that were then presented to the educators on the panel. The result was a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous, and practical discussion about what it really means to be a teacher today.

FEUND will showcase additional events in the spring semester. CEHD students that are interested in joining FEUND can contact Dr. Grace Keengwe at 701.777.3378 or Annual dues are $25.



UND Special Olympics College Club Honored

This fall, UND become the first Unified Champion School in North Dakota to receive National Banner School status, AND was named a Top 5 National Banner School by ESPN! UND was the only collegiate institution on the ESPN list.

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all members of the student body and staff. Another requirement is demonstrating commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. UND’s club is very active in the Grand Forks community, participating in such events as flag football, floor hockey, Inclusion Week, Virtual College Champ Week, and more!




Taylor Wright is CEHD’s Latest Leader In Action

Taylor Wright, a 2022 Elementary and Middle Level Education graduate of UND, was profiled in UND’s Leaders In Action series! She is currently a first year full-time teacher in Grand Forks Public Schools.

Read her story here.







UND Instructor published in The Conversation

The Conversation is a nonprofit, independent news organization that publishes only fact-based, academically-researched articles. Writers for The Conversation must be scholars or researchers affiliated with a college, university, or research institution. Published articles from The Conversation are picked up by journalistic outlets worldwide.

Emily Midkiff, an instructor of Children’s Literature at UND, became the first CEHD instructor to be published in The Conversation. Her article, Sci-Fi Books for Young Readers Often Omit Children of Color from the Future, was published Nov. 30.




I-REEED Hosts Robust Webinar on Rural Teacher Recruitment

On Dec. 1, the Initiative for Rural Education, Equity & Economic Development (I-REEED) and CEHD hosted a webinar, Spotlight on Innovations in Teacher Recruitment and Retention. The keynote speaker, Benjamin Winchester, spoke to “Rewriting the Rural Narrative”; his approach uses research and data to show why the narrative that rural America is dying or emptying out is simply inaccurate.

A panel of North Dakota educators, including Ivona Todorovic, North Dakota’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, spoke to how administrators can overcome rural stereotypes and what positive actions they can take. During a discussion moderated by CEHD’s Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, panelists drew upon past experience to demonstrate how they brought about change in their respective districts and areas.

Visit UND Today to read more about this robust discussion. To request a link to view the webinar, email