Dahlman earns top honors at Minnesota West, will represent the college at the state level
Instructor Kent Dahlman was named Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Outstanding Educator for 2022.
WORTHINGTON — Instructor Kent Dahlman didn’t expect to be chosen as Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Outstanding Educator for 2022.
“I was surprised. I was shocked,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting!”
Dahlman told a family member about the honor, and said he didn’t think he’d ever get a nomination for an award like that, but a week later, he became Minnesota West’s top pick. He’ll go on to represent Minnesota West as a candidate for the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Educator of the Year, with the winner to be announced in January.
“This is my fourth year; I’ve been teaching since 2005 in the Minnesota State system,” Dahlman said. “Minnesota West just seems like a really good fit for me and I’m really thankful to be there.”
He is a graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead, followed by graduate school at St. Cloud State University.
He’s been teaching ever since as an adjunct professor at various schools within the Minnesota State system.
At Minnesota West, Dahlman teaches public speaking, interpersonal communication, small group communication and intercultural communication classes, as well as courses in mass communication and mass media.
“When I came to Minnesota West, they really only offered public speaking and interpersonal communication, and I knew that I wanted to broaden the courses available to our students,” he said.
“While developing and offering new courses can be a challenge, Mr. Dahlman has a positive attitude and willingness to try new avenues and opportunities,” said Dr. Kayla Westra, dean of liberal arts and K-12 partnerships at Minnesota West. “I look forward to his continued programmatic work and engagement college-wide to expand offerings in his area of expertise. Our students benefit greatly from his willingness to stretch professionally.”
Dahlman’s commitment to teaching and serving diverse communities was specifically singled out for praise by Minnesota West, along with his Intercultural Communication course.
“The communities we serve are so diverse, we need a course like this where students can learn about other cultures and how to more effectively interact and work with people who have different experiences than themselves,” Dahlman said, emphasizing the importance of valuing people with different life experiences.
The college also offered praise to Dahlman for resurrecting the school’s study abroad/away program, after a 2022 trip to Puerto Rico and a planned 2023 jaunt to Ireland for a class on storytelling.
“What I think my students get out of those opportunities is the opportunity to grow, to learn more about themselves. I think there’s a lot of personal growth when you do a travel away or abroad program,” said Dahlman, who went on similar trips as a student himself and found them life-changing. “I see what it’s done for me and what it can do for other students. I think that’s one of the best ways for students to learn — at first hand.”
Students in the storytelling class will depart May 15 and return May 23, visiting tourist sites in Ireland, writing and learning to tell stories in various ways. The trip will cost around $3,700.
Whether a class is online, in person or overseas, though, Dahlman’s favorite part of teaching remains the same.
“I just love the interaction with my students, and really seeing them grow,” he said. “Being able to see them apply what they’re learning to their real life — this is content they can apply immediately to their own life that they’re learning …
“With proper instruction and learning about communication effectiveness, everybody can become better at it — and I think that's why I enjoy my discipline so much.”
The following instructors were finalists for the award: Stacy Christensen, for the Allied Health division; Heidi Tarus, for the Math/Science division; Shawn Berning, for the Trades division; and Anita Gaul, for the Social Sciences.