Riverland’s Hansen awarded for Excellence in Teaching

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When  Kimberly Hansen received the email that she had won the 2019 Board of Trustees Awards for Excellence in Teaching, she at first was in complete disbelief to the point of thinking her recognition wasn’t real.

“I was sure I read it wrong,” the Riverland Community College accounting instructor said. “I just never, ever dreamed that I would have gotten an award at the state level. My heart started to pound. It finally registered that ‘wait a minute, oh my god it really does say that.’ It was almost like I didn’t know what to do. I was dumbfounded…it was very surreal.”

The award is bestowed on faculty to acknowledge and reward exceptional professional accomplishment, and to encourage ongoing excellence in teaching. The award proclaims on behalf of the Minnesota state system, the Board of Trustees’ pride in dedication and accomplishment of its faculty who provide instruction preparing Minnesota college and university students for their professional, scholarly and civic lives.

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A former student had nominated Hansen for the award, to which, Hansen was stunned by the recognition from those who have taken classes from her.

“I was caught off guard,” she said. “I teach so many classes online these days and it’s hard to have a personal connection. It was nice of her to take the time to reach out and do that.”

Having Hansen win this award highlights her character and dedication to education, said Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, Riverland Community college president. Citing her creativity and collaborative spirit, Atewologun felt that the recognition was well-deserved.

“Her investment in students reflects the needs and purpose of all students, emphasizing ‘learning by discovery’ and use of current technologies that ensures student access,” Atewologun said in a press release. “I am extremely proud of the positive connections she has made with her students. Kim’s approach to teaching and assessment reflects the needs and style of the student. She committed to every student’s success; her dedication ensures that they will not only learn but excel.”

A love of learning

For almost 32 years, Hansen has taught accounting at Riverland Community College. She originally started her instruction in 1987 at Austin Technical Institute before the schools merged to become what Riverland is known as today. It’s a lifelong career in education that the Blooming Prairie High School alumna had wanted, but others had tried to deter her from.


“When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to go to school to be a teacher,” Hansen said. “Everyone said ‘don’t go.’ Back then, there were 60 applicants for every opening, and people told me that I’d never get a job and ‘don’t go into education.’”

After finding an interest in accounting, Hansen eventually earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and was a CPA. She also earned her master’s degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. However, she found herself still desiring to become a teacher, and fate ended up intervening.

“I still had this drive or feeling that I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “It really worked out. I got to do accounting and I got to teach accounting. It’s two things I really enjoyed. Fortunately, it worked out that way.”

Teaching students concepts and applying them brings satisfaction to Hansen. She doesn’t want students to memorize for the sake of memorizing, rather making sure they actually understand the material and learn from them to use in everyday life.

“I like when something was confusing or unclear, and seeing that lightbulb go off,” she said. “They say ‘oh I get it now, it makes sense.’ I enjoy problem solving. When a student has a problem, and they work on an assignment I can help them through it. I really like students to understand why things are the way they are, not just because of the reasons. I want them to really understand instead of memorizing. That’s true learning versus temporary knowledge for an exam and it’s gone.”

As for receiving the award, Hansen expressed her gratitude for the recognition and shared that she still continues to love what she does everyday: Teaching and making an impact on her students.

“I enjoy receiving emails from previous students that you had ten years ago,” she said. “They say ‘you instilled the love of accounting in me,’ and that’s really a huge thing to know you made a difference in people’s lives. That’s what I love about teaching.”