Dr. Connie Hovendick, a longtime special education teacher and administrator, has been hired as the new superintendent of the North Dakota School for the Deaf in Devils Lake.

Dr. Connie Hovendick, a longtime special education teacher and administrator, has been hired as the new superintendent of the North Dakota School for the Deaf in Devils Lake.

The school serves North Dakotans of all ages who are deaf or hard of hearing. It has a 26-acre school campus in Devils Lake, with about 22 resident students, and outreach offices in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Minot, Rolla and Devils Lake that serve infants, adults and students in other public schools.

Hovendick previously worked for 14 years as director of the Lake Region special education unit, which provides services to 12 school districts in Benson, Cavalier, Nelson, Ramsey and Towner counties. She had worked as the Lake Region unit’s program coordinator and assistant director before she was hired as its director in August 2000.
Hovendick taught students with emotional disturbances in the Devils Lake public schools from 1979 to 1988.

The School for the Deaf’s former superintendent, Carmen Grove Suminski, retired in August 2013. Lilia Bakken, the school’s communications director, has served as interim superintendent for the past year.

“As a special ed director in Devils Lake I’ve been closely involved in the School for the Deaf for a number of years, and have always had great respect and been impressed with the program over here,” Hovendick said. “When the opening came up, it just seemed like a natural move.”

The School for the Deaf and Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is part of North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction. It has a two-year budget of $9.2 million and about 51 full-time employees, including seven teachers on the Devils Lake campus and nine in outreach offices.

Kirsten Baesler, superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, said she was pleased that Hovendick had agreed to take the job.
“Connie has an extensive background in education and a strong working relationship with special education services in the region,” Baesler said. “She will be an invaluable asset to the students at the North Dakota School for the Deaf.”

The school’s Devils Lake campus provides instruction for deaf and hearing-impaired youth from preschool through grade 8. It offers courses in traditional academics, vocational and physical education, art and music.

The school works to develop its students’ skills in speech, speech-reading, sign language, reading and writing, and independent living. It provides sign language classes, interpreters, tutoring, hearing assessments and closed-captioned encoding for video programs.

It maintains a resource center of captioned films and videos and books, brochures, videotapes and movies related to deafness, and offers information to deaf and hard-of-hearing North Dakotans of all ages, as well as families, community groups, local schools, state agencies and health professionals.

Hovendick began her job as superintendent on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
Hovendick holds a master’s degree from the University of North Dakota and a doctorate in institutional analysis in education from North Dakota State University. She is a native of Perham, Minn.  She lives in Warwick, N.D., a community about 25 miles southeast of Devils Lake.

Suminski had been serving as superintendent of both the School for the Deaf and North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind in Grand Forks shortly before her retirement. The two schools now have their own top administrators. Paul Olson, the School for the Blind’s former director of education for vision services, was named its superintendent in August 2013.