Educator Profile    Educators

Erica Quale (ND '21)


Wachter Middle School
Bismarck, ND

Subject(s) taught: Social Studies
Grade(s): 8

At the time of the Award, Erica Quale was:

Wachter Middle School
Bismarck, ND

Subject(s) taught: Social Studies
Grade(s): 8

Biographical Information

Erica Quale’s goal is to make U.S. history relevant to her students’ lives. She emphasizes collaboration, instills confidence and encourages students to find creative ways to demonstrate their learning. Wachter has been working to incorporate project-based learning into curriculum for seven years, and Quale has been a leader in that effort. During a unit on westward expansion, her eighth graders develop materials to teach fourth graders from local elementary schools. Every spring, several hundred fourth graders arrive at Wachter on school buses and spend the day visiting learning stations that detail the challenges along the trails: crossing rivers, foraging for berries and avoiding angry bears. Quale also invites families and community members into the classroom to listen as students present their work. North Dakota students must pass a state civics exam, so Quale sets up interactive discussions and helps students create “foldables,” portable study guides to help them prepare. Her methods work—in 2019, 99.9 percent of Wachter’s eighth graders passed the test, beating the state by nearly 15 points.

Quale builds strong relationships with both students and colleagues. She is active in the school and district professional learning communities, helped introduce and implement new standards for social studies, mentors student teachers and new hires, and works with colleagues to create lessons and differentiate instruction. During the pandemic, Quale used her Professional Learning Community time to support colleagues as they transitioned to Google Classroom and Google Meets, relieving teachers’ anxiety about remote teaching as they created new ways for students to participate and learn.

Quale has a unique ability to connect with students, listen with empathy, and inspire them to learn. Students rarely sit still and take notes in her classroom—they are always busy and engaged, and most important, leave her classroom loving history. Quale sees past academics to address the needs of the whole child. She started Wachter’s Pink Dot program to supply personal hygiene items to students. Every year, Quale organizes an eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. She helps students raise funds to cover travel costs, involving the whole community to make sure the trip is successful and every student has the opportunity to participate.

Quale earned a bachelor’s in elementary and secondary education in 2007 from Jamestown College and a master’s in teaching with technology in 2013 from Valley City State University.

Press release: Surprise of a Lifetime: Bismarck Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Related Connections

Article: The Milken Awards Take Over TikTok

Educator Quote:

"I'm here [at my Milken Award notification]..." (read more)

Erica Quale In The News

Teacher Has The Most Adorable Reaction To Winning "The Oscar Of Teaching"
InspireMore  |  Apr 21, 2022  |  Dallas, TX

WATCH --> Teachers Across US Receive Surprise Awards
World News Tonight with David Muir  |  ABC  |  Apr 04, 2022  |  New York, NY

LISTEN--> Bismarck Middle School Teacher Wins Prestigious 'Milken Award'
Prairie Public Broadcasting  |  NPR  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  Bismarck, ND

Wachter Middle School Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educators Award
KFYR-TV  |  NBC/FOX  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  Bismarck, ND

Bismarck History Teacher Wins Prestigious Milken Educator Award
The Bismarck Tribune  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  Bismarck, ND

WATCH --> 'She Really Deserved This': Students, Staff Express Gratitude for Milken Educator Award Winner Mrs. Quale
KXMB-TV  |  CBS/ABC  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  Bismarck, ND

Bismarck Teacher Wins $25,000 Award for Excellence in Education
InForum  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  Fargo, ND

Bismarck Teacher - The Only One From ND To Win Major Award
KLXX-AM  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  Mandan. ND