Northwest Technical College recognizes faculty and staff during annual celebration

Northwest Technical College recognized employees reaching length-of-service milestones and the college’s annual employee award winners at an April 30 celebration.

Northwest Technical College web art
Northwest Technical College

BEMIDJI -- Northwest Technical College recognized employees reaching length-of-service milestones and the college’s annual employee award winners at a celebration on Friday, April 30.

NTC’s annual employee Awards of Excellence include the Spirit of NTC, Outstanding Contribution, Excellence in Teaching and Distinguished Service awards, a release said.

Spirit of NTC Award

  • 2021 individual recipient: Tyler Peterson, director of the student success center.
  • 2021 team recipient: General maintenance and building utility team.

The Spirit of NTC Award recognizes individuals or teams whose positive attitude and infectious enthusiasm embody the Spirit of NTC through active support of students, student-athletes, co-workers and community members.
Tyler Peterson was recognized for being a visible and tireless advocate for NTC students in his position as director of the Student Success Center.

"In addition to running the day-to-day operations of the center, which includes proctoring tests, coordinating group study sessions and tutoring, he manages the student food pantry and coordinates numerous social events for students," the release said. "Peterson has also single-handedly created and coordinated NTC’s annual Student Achievement Day that recognizes students from each NTC academic program."

The COVID-19 pandemic provided a special challenge for NTC’s facilities crew and trio Charley Boyer, building utilities mechanic, Kevin Jackson, general maintenance worker, and John Jilcott, custodian.


The team was acknowledged for not only ensuring that the campus is clean and disinfected amidst the pandemic, but that classrooms and meeting spaces are appropriately reset to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

Outstanding Contribution Award

  • 2021 individual recipient: Judy Rikenberger, accounting officer.
  • 2021 team recipient: Plumbing, HVAC and commercial refrigeration faculty.

The Outstanding Contribution Award is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond expectations to contribute to areas of student success, civic engagement, diversity, sustainability and/or public service.
Accounting Officer Judy Rinkenberger was recognized for her consistent and unwavering dedication to NTC’s students and to the campus community as a whole. As a long-time college employee, she was also acknowledged for her unique insight into the college’s historical practices, Student Senate functions and other events and organizations, the release said.

Plumbing, HVAC and commercial refrigeration faculty members Julian Dreher, Jeff Brower and John Kenny were commended for their collaboration through a program startup process that resulted in reworked, reorganized and more efficient teaching and lab spaces for NTC students. The renovated lab spaces and improved technical instruction equipment improve learning for current students and make NTC more attractive for prospective students.

Additionally, the team’s efforts to build closer relationships with the Bemidji Career Academies are also creating new pathways for students to explore career opportunities and consider NTC for their technical education.

Excellence in Teaching Award

  • 2021 individual recipient: Sammi Davidson, health care administrative support faculty.
  • 2021 individual recipient: Kaci Peterson, health care administrative support faculty.

The Excellence in Teaching Award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated teaching excellence through evidence of exceptional learning outcomes and quality student advising.
In a short period of time, health care administrative support faculty Sammi Davidson and Kaci Peterson have grown from part-time instructors to leaders in one of Northwest Tech’s most important health care programs. They have collaborated to revise the curriculum in both the medical coding and health care administrative support programs, which includes bringing the American Academy of Professional Coders curriculum into the medical coding program, the release said.

Their efforts have been recognized nationally, as a website recently placed NTC fifth on its list, “The Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Programs 2020.”

Davidson and Peterson also actively and enthusiastically participate in student advising, program open house and recruiting events, student activities and more.

Distinguished Service Award

  • 2021 individual recipient: Jeff Brower, plumbing & HVAC faculty

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a faculty or staff member who has been at NTC for at least five years with an ongoing record of superlative performance and professional excellence combined with significant personal impact in the areas of student success, civic engagement, diversity, sustainability and/or public service.
Jeff Brower, a plumbing & HVAC instructor at NTC, has remained active and firmly committed to student success even though he is working in phased retirement. He used part of a recent sabbatical leave to aid in the development of NTC’s new commercial refrigeration program and led efforts to gather additional funding for commercial refrigeration, establish an advisory committee, plan lab spaces and purchase instructional equipment, the release said.


Brower has also been heavily involved in Northwest Tech’s recent efforts to build closer relationships with the Bemidji Career Academies, helping to establish an introduction to plumbing and heating course for high school students. This pilot program is now being offered to other schools in neighboring districts.

Years of Service Awards

15 years – Carla Johanson, assistant director of Distance Minnesota.
15 years – Gwen Oster, electrician faculty.
5 years – Grace Ferdinandt, financial aid representative.
5 years – Brenda Henriksen, nursing faculty.
5 years – Melissa Schmelz, online success coach.

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