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NDU News

Three Cheers for our Everyday Superheroes

As part of our campaign to shine a light on the amazing work all public educators and employees do every day, awards were presented to three outstanding individuals.
woman wearing cape running
Published: May 18, 2022

For the past year, North Dakota United – the state’s top champion of great public education and public services – has been promoting our members in colorful fashion. On social media and in television commercials, we have assembled a group of normal, everyday citizens and transformed them into an elite squad, the NDU Everyday Superheroes!

In the latest phase of our campaign, we asked the public to help us in our mission to select the next round of Everyday Superheroes on our website, From 12 finalists, three were chosen by online vote to receive special recognition and the coveted NDU Everyday Superhero trophy at award ceremonies in their schools.

The three Everyday Superhero award recipients are:
• Sandy Irmen, social studies teacher at Grafton High School
• Caira Pfau, fifth-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Fargo
• Eric Rooke, band director at Williston High School

“Our state’s educators and public employees have had to lift heavy workloads, leap over gigantic obstacles and run faster than ever before, each and every day, in service to North Dakota schools and communities,” ND United President Nick Archuleta said. “With our Everyday Superheroes campaign, we are celebrating them all, in epic fashion.”

These three Everyday Superheroes received awards at special presentations in their home communities. NDU President Archuleta was joined by students, colleagues, friends and family in celebrating all of our heroes in public education and service.

“On behalf of everyone at North Dakota United, I want to congratulate our Everyday Superhero Award winners,” Archuleta said. “These three are certainly deserving of this recognition, but I know they would be the first to tell you that all their colleagues in public education and services are heroes, too. We are truly fortunate to have so many superheroes working so hard, every day, for the people of North Dakota.”

The full list of finalists in our contest are:

  • Karen Askerooth, retired teacher and president of NDU-Retired
  • Rissa Williams, EL aide at Watchter Middle School in Bismarck
  • Sandy Irmen, social studies teacher at Grafton High School
  • Jodi Shorma, Language & Literature Department chair at Valley City State University
  • Cairra Pfau, fifth-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Fargo
  • Eric Rooke, band director at Williston High School
  • Lexi Klabunde, second-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Minot
  • Connie Stordalen, choir teacher at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck
  • Dr. Joan Aus, chair of the School of Education at Dickinson State University
  • Ellen Hagen, English learner teacher at Willow Park Elementary School in West Fargo
  • Dr. Lisa Borden-King, director of Reading Clinic at Minot State University
  • Abby Braaten, special education teacher at Bowman Elementary School

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education & Public Services

With more than 11,500 members across the state, NDU supports equal opportunities for success for ALL North Dakota students, and respect and support for all educators. NDU members are teachers, community college professors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers.