VIDEO: The PBS Teacher Community Program TCP vid cover

Plan Summary

Prairie Public Education Services will facilitate the new Teacher Community Program within the North Dakota/northwestern Minnesota area from September 2016-June 2019. The focus of the program will be to provide resources, programs, training and support for teachers in rural, underserved communities. The project will begin with the development of a Needs Assessment tool, to be administered to teachers and staff in 3 or 4 selected rural schools in early 2017. A detailed action plan will follow evaluation of the Needs Assessment data, to be articulated by our Teacher Ambassador.

The Teacher Ambassador will develop strategies and lead activities in up to 4 selected regional schools during the 2017-2018 school year. The activities may include classes, workshops, in-services, trainings and meetings for staff in selected schools. The Teacher Ambassador will guide teachers in selected schools towards addressing needs that were identified in the Needs Assessment, and will work with them to fulfill strategies identified together with Prairie Public Education Services staff, Rural Education Associations (REAs), regional Career and Technology Education (CTE) centers or Educational Services Cooperatives (ESCs) and administrators. Digital resources and technology training will be customized to the needs of the educators in the schools, and the collaborations with peers and colleagues will be the desired outcomes. One of the goals of the Teacher Ambassador will be to interact with teachers and administrators on-site in their schools as a collaborative effort to enhance the practice of teaching in rural schools.

Prior to the 2018-2019 school year, the Teacher Ambassador and Education staff will identify and target 3-4 additional schools in which to implement the project activities, while continuing the second year with the initial 2017-2018 schools. Assessment and evaluation will occur throughout the year. At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, reflection and evaluation will shape recommendations for replicating the project in other markets.


Darcy Bakkegard, Teacher Ambassador

darcyWe’d like to introduce and welcome Darcy Bakkegard, our new Teacher Ambassador.

Darcy  is originally from Valley City, ND,  and is a ten year teaching veteran who has taught in public and private, rural and suburban, and even international schools.  She has a BA in Theatre from Minnesota State University Moorhead where she spent five summers as a Straw Hat Player.  After working in educational theatre, she completed a Master’s Degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls and has been teaching high school English and Theatre ever since.  Most recently she served as the Director of Theatre and English teacher at West Fargo High School. Darcy focuses on using interactive teaching strategies, many of them grounded in the principals of theatre, to engage students in learning and has lead workshops for educators of all subjects to help them develop such methods for their content and classrooms.

We will be providing more information on the development of the Teacher Community Program as it becomes available, here on our website, through social media, and in person. If you have questions, please contact Darcy at


Teacher Community Project Background Information

Research shows that a teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student achievement than any other factor under the control of school systems. Yet many teachers, particularly those in high-need communities, have the added challenge of teaching without adequate opportunities to learn, practice and implement proven teaching strategies, experiment with education trends, or effectively integrate digital media and technology to enhance their instruction. The need for these kinds of engagement opportunities is particularly acute in low-income, rural communities, which face many challenges in meeting the educational needs of students, including high levels of poverty, lack of access to broadband Internet, and the kind of geographic isolation that makes collaboration and sharing of resources between teachers difficult.

PBS is recognized as a national leader in education and has continued to make supporting the needs of educators and students a top priority for the organization. PBS and Prairie Public serve both as community resources and multipliers. Because of our extensive reach – achieved through broadcast channels, digital media, and our participation in grassroots activities via local partnerships – we are uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of rural teachers by facilitating strategies and implementing local engagement initiatives that improve teacher performance, combat teacher isolation, improve student outcomes, and build stations’ capacity.

Through this project, PBS and Prairie Public will work together to create impactful, replicable, and sustainable plans that can serve as a blueprint for the public media system.