By Payton Willey
Williston State College President Raymond Nadolny received the Outstanding Leadership/Service Award from The North Dakota Association of Lifelong Learning at its annual Fall Conference in Bismarck last month.
According to a press release from the Department of Public Instruction, the association represents North Dakota educators who teach adult education, GED preparation and in alternative high school settings. Approximately 120 statewide members attended the conference this year at the Doublewood Inn.
Nadolny said it was the first time he had been to the conference, and that he enjoyed the opportunity to hear students who overcame significant odds.
“It was an incredible experience to look at a group acknowledging alternative students in high school and students coming back to college after a long time away from college,” Nadolny said. “It was very emotional, empowering and rewarding.”
Nadolny came to Williston State College from Seattle in 2009. Before his arrival, Nadolny said the college primarily serviced students out of high school, however in the last three years he said the college has undergone a significant focus on expanding training to adult learners through adult education programs including TrainND, the college’s outreach to people of all ages.
“I think the college has really picked up on a commitment to lifelong learning with centralized support services,” Nadolny said. “We kind of have a SWAT team for students at all ages, and no matter what age or academic challenges, we have people who can help, not only in the classroom but outside support for that student as well.”
Laurel Kaae, adult learning center director at WSC, was the one who submitted Nadolny as a candidate for the award last spring.
Kaae said only a few people new about the submission.
Once all of the submissions are in, they go to a conference committee which votes on who should receive the award. In August, Kaae found out that Nadolny had won the award and asked if it could be presented to him during the college’s in-service week.
“I felt everyone at the college should know when he received the award,” Kaae said. “I don’t believe any college president has won the award before in North Dakota.”
Nadolny said that he was absolutely stunned when he found out he had received the award.
“The award itself is very unique – it’s a hand-painted art work of North Dakota in a frame with a plaque on the back of it,” Nadolny said. “It’s a very original way of honoring someone.”