Jan. 18, 2024

‘NDSU is one of the main reasons I have been so successful in my career’


Katelyn Gorder, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Grafton High School and a 2015 NDSU graduate, received a national Milken Educator Award for 2023-24. The Award comes with a $25,000 cash prize that Gorder can use for any purpose.

Gorder found out she was being presented with the prestigious honor during a schoolwide assembly attended by North Dakota State School Superintendent, Kirsten Baesler, and Vice President of the Milken Educator Awards, Stephanie Bishop, on Jan. 17.

“It definitely feels surreal,” Gorder said. “As teachers, we tend to work hard without much public recognition and this was a complete shock to me and still feels so unreal and very overwhelming.” 

Gorder, who earned her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences, credits NDSU as helping lead her down the path to a successful career. 

“NDSU is one of the main reasons I have been so successful in my career in education.  I always tell my students I loved going to my college classes and that's how I knew I was on the right path for my future in FACS education,” she said. “My advisors and professors at NDSU were so wonderful and so inspirational to me.  I have always been so grateful for the NDSU teacher education program and the great job they did with setting me up with the best students teaching experiences and the many hours of classroom time I experienced before I started my career.  The FACS program at NDSU may be small, but it is full of the best of the best when it comes to students and faculty.”  

Gorder said she’s had an interest in FACS classes starting when she was a student at Grafton High School. She was encouraged by her FACS teacher to pursue teaching FACS, and while she originally pursued early childhood education in college, she later changed her major. 

“I am very passionate about living a happy and healthy lifestyle and the FACS curriculum gives me the opportunity to share that passion with my students every day,” she said. “I chose NDSU because I knew they had a great program and as a North Dakota native it wasn't a hard choice to stay.”

Gorder began her career in Billings, Montana, where she taught FACS for eight years at Skyview High School. While there she helped implement hands-on learning experiences for students, including a Falcon Fuel Coffee Shop and an Adventure Club. Both are still operational today. She earned her master's in curriculum and instruction from Greenville University in 2021.

Gorder has been in her current job since 2022. As the sole FACS teacher at Grafton High School, Gorder teaches seventh and eighth grade life skills classes, which are the basic FACS classes to give students an idea of the courses they could take in high school. Gorder’s high school classes are centered on different areas of FACS. She offers child development, teaching professional, foods and nutrition, culinary arts and individual living courses. In these classes students learn about careers in each area, soft skills, and participate in hands-on activities, and in some cases, work experience. 

In general, Gorder feels lucky to be teaching career and technical education.

“It really is the best field with the best people,” she said. 

Gorder is the sole North Dakota 2023-24 Milken Educator Award recipient. The awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation's Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 

The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, the awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

The honorees will attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, California in June, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education. They will also receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. 

Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation

Categories: Awards
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