2021 Lignite Energy Council Teacher of the Year

Kids Chose. We Listened.

This year our friends at Lignite Energy Council gave us a very important mission. They challenged us to find the BEST teachers in North Dakota. We searched far and wide for teachers who always have FUN, make learning AWESOME and EXCITE and INSPIRE students.

We received more than 85 amazing nominations from students all across the state. We narrowed it down to five stellar teachers who we surprised with an oooey-gooey award. Each Teacher of the Year honoree was slimed in front of their entire school! And now — we are inviting them to the ballpark for an extra special recognition. Meet our 2021 Lignite Energy Council Teachers of the year below.

The 2021 Lignite Energy Council Teachers of the Year are:

Nikki Fideldy | Center-Stanton High School | Agriculture Education

Ms. Fideldy makes learning fun and goes above and beyond for her students. Although she primarily teaches grades 7-12, she uses her free time to include the elementary school in various activities and lessons. A few of the projects she’s taught students (and the other 160 students in the elementary) include Trudy the Trout, Ag Day, the Little Free Library and Service Stickers. 

She invited grades pre-k-6th grade to visit her Ag department to learn about the life cycle of rainbow trout — she calls this activity Trudy the Trout. Ms. Fideldy raises over 200 rainbow trout eggs every year in her JH/HS Ag education classes. Students get to watch the eggs hatch and each student gets the opportunity to “adopt” and name their very own trout. 

Ag day is another activity students look forward to every year. Ms. Fideldy and her agriculture education students turn her shop into their very own barn and bring in a variety of animals like alpacas, horses, turtles, bearded dragons and more. Students and staff are invited to walk through the barn and learn about specific animals and how agriculture and livestock affect our day-to-day life. Students love learning and petting the animals and interacting with Ms. Fideldy and her students.

The Little Free Library is a new addition outside the elementary school. This free library was built by Ms. Fideldy and her students for students and members of the community to use and enjoy. Individuals are encouraged to take a book to read or donate books to the library for others to read. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers had to adapt the way they taught. Ms. Fideldy saw this as an opportunity to give back, so she created the Service Sticker Project. Ms. Fideldy asked her students to design stickers as a fundraising project. The top students’ designs were created into stickers and sold to students, staff and community members. This project taught students about giving back and showing appreciation to those who continue to serve our community everyday. The project raised over $1,500 and was donated to the Oliver County Fire Department to help purchase safety equipment. Ms. Fideldy continues to strive to be a better educator, mentor and advocate for the importance of agriculture in our school, community, state and country.

Cal Potter | Devils Lake High School | Anatomy and Biology

Mr. Potter always comes to school with an up-beat attitude and an open personality. He understands the importance of education and priorities his students’ well-being. His students know they can always count on him.

Mr. Potter encourages his students to never let a bad day or a bad grade determine who they are. “A bad grade does not define who you are as a person,” Potter says. “Rather your attitude does.” 

Along with his scheduled lesson plans, Mr. Potter goes the extra mile to help prepare his students for the real world. Everyday before class, Mr. Potter presents a slideshow about a useful life skill that is necessary to know as future adult. Although these skills may seem basic to some: changing a tire, filing taxes, or even preparing for an interview, they are all very important life skills that Mr. Potter teaches his students.



Heide Schneider | Manning Elementary

Mrs. Schneider does it all. She’s the principal, a recess duty supervisor, the before and after school supervisor, the lunch monitor, the art teacher, and she teaches kindergarten through 3rd grade. She is a hands-on teacher that lets kids learn in different ways. Students at her school get to build forts and work with animals. Oh, and we forgot to mention, she happens to be one of the best fisherwomen in all of North Dakota. 


Melissa Mutschler | Jeanette Myhre Elementary | 2nd Grade

Miss. Mutschler’s kindness shines through everyday in her classroom. Her compassion and encouragement gives students confidence and turns them into leaders. Her constant attentiveness makes students feel special and important.

She takes personal time to create unique and memorable items that her students would enjoy. She has made fleece blankets and personalized paintings for all her students during Christmas. 

Miss. Mutschler makes every single day fun and exciting day for her students. Her students note her fun and engaging activities that she incorporates into her teachings as the reason for their success in the classroom. She also integrates art projects and holidays with her lessons. Her students say one of their favorite projects was growing sunflowers for their moms for Mother’s Day!

Sheryl Brown | St. Mary’s Grade School | 3rd Grade

Mrs. Brown is a very creative teacher who always thinks outside of the box.  Her uniqueness and innovative skills provide students with the best resources to succeed at the highest level. When her students come across a problem or a certain situation, she instills patience and persistence. Being able to find the problem at hand and dissect it is what makes Mrs. Brown different from others. 

Mrs. Brown puts an exciting spin on her lessons to keep students engaged. She considers everyone in the classroom and makes sure every student is actively involved so no one falls behind.



In honor of their accomplishment, the Larks will recognize each Teacher of the Year honoree during the Lignite Energy Council Kids Choice Awards: Teacher Edition Night at the ballpark on Friday, June 11th.

Each Teacher of the Year winner receives:

  • A virtual or in-person classroom visit/assembly (depending on school COVID-19 protocols)
  • (2) tickets to Kids Choice Awards: Teacher Edition Night (Friday, June 11)
  • On-field recognition during the game with the student who nominated them
  • A personalized Larks jersey
  • Feature story in the Larks game day program

The Overall Larks Teacher of the Year receives all of the above perks plus:

  • A $1,000 STEM Technology grant for their school
  • A $250 gift card for school supplies
  • (1) FREE ticket to the Lignite Energy Council Teacher of the Year seminar

“We are proud of all of our teachers, especially those who taught during the coronavirus pandemic, which had altered the classroom drastically. We recognize the sacrifices teachers have had to make in order to maintain learning for their students. We want to give huge a THANK YOU to every teacher who has made learning possible throughout the state of North Dakota. Your efforts will have an impact for years to come!”

– Jason Bohrer, Lignite Energy Council President & CEO