Western Dakota Technical College Learn. Do. Now.

Apply Now Schedule a Tour Visit Us Request Info Chat Online

Hanks Selected National Education Award Finalist

Western Dakota Tech has known its educators are some of the best in country and is honored to announce one is garnering national recognition.

In a surprise celebration on Jan. 24, it was announced Donna Hanks, Business and Technology Instructor and Team Leader, is a finalist for the American Technical Education Association (ATEA) Outstanding Technical Teacher Award. Hanks was nominated for the award by Western Dakota Tech in November 2017.

“I strongly recommend Donna for this award due to her proven ability to create a culture of compassion, rigor, and integrity,” said Kelly Oehlerking, Western Dakota Tech Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Student Success, in her award nomination letter. “I have worked with Donna for the past 13 years as a fellow business instructor, as a fellow student obtaining our Master’s degrees, as a supervisor, and now as a coworker. In every role I have witnessed Donna in, she is caring, compassionate, and can be counted on to get the job done.”

Hanks has taught at Western Dakota Tech since 2004 and has been the Team Leader over Business, Accounting, Computer Science, and Criminal Justice programs since 2016. She currently teaches Principles of Accounting I & II, Supervisory Management, Project Management, and QuickBooks. Hanks serves on the following Western Dakota Tech committees: Curriculum, Higher Learning Commission Criterion, Employee Recognition, Retention Task Force, Negotiations, Conduct Hearing Board, Self-Study, Wellness, Scholarship, Cabinet, Strategic Plan Task Force, and various internal advisory boards. 

Hanks has been involved in the ATEA since 2008. The instructor has twice been selected the Western Dakota Tech Student Choice Instructor of the Year. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Southwest Minnesota State University and a Master’s degree in Administrative Studies from the University of South Dakota.

“I have had the honor of working with Donna Hanks for over 12 years, and as a fellow instructor at Western Dakota Tech, I am honored to write a letter of recommendation for Donna,” said Justin Jutting, Assessment Coordinator, Transportation Technology Faculty. “Throughout these years, Donna has acquired many accolades, and I consider some of her best attributes to include her commitment to the students of Western Dakota Tech, a commitment to technology in the classroom, and a commitment to personal growth of the people around her.”

Hanks is active in many professional organizations including, but not limited to:  Leadership Rapid City, Junior Leadership Rapid City, Day of Excellence, Women’s Leadership Initiative, and National Business Education Association. She is also involved in several community service organizations including:  Hope Christian Reformed Church in various leadership roles, Love Inc., Kids Hope USA (Director 2014-2015), Habitat for Humanity, etc.

The ATEA will announce the recipient of the Outstanding Technical Teacher Award during its National Conference Awards Dinner, in Kenosha, Wis., on March 21. ATEA does not disclose the number of nominations for awards, but announced there are four finalists for the Outstanding Technical Teacher Award. The other three finalists are from Gillette, Wyo.; Tylertown, Miss.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.

ATEA is celebrating its 90th year. ATEA is a premier association for the post-secondary technical educator, with emphasis on professional development.  
About Western Dakota Tech
Western Dakota Tech was established in 1968 and is the only technical college that serves the western South Dakota region.

Western Dakota Tech offers programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

More than 96 percent of Western Dakota Tech's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or are enlisted in the military.

Western Dakota Tech faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, Western Dakota Tech students graduate ready to make a real and immediate contribution to their employers and to their communities.

For information about Western Dakota Tech, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit us on the web at

View all articles

Join the Conversation

Connect with Western Dakota Technical College

facebook logo instagram logo snapchat logo x logo youtube logo 

Website Powered By PageFramer, Development By Robert Sharp & Associates