Gwindolyn Ballard of Bonners Ferry and Senator John Goedde of Coeur d’Alene were recently honored at the annual meeting of the Mountain Plains Adult Education Association, an organization that represents eight western states..
Ballard was awarded student of the year, and Senator Goedde the outstanding legislator of the year at the event, which was held in Coeur d'Alene. The Mountain Plains district includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. North Idaho College administers the Adult Basic Education program in North Idaho.
Senator Goedde also gave the conference keynote address. He talked of the need for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and how it creates better citizens by reducing crime, increasing personal income and is less taxing on the health and welfare system.
“ABE alters the course of lives every day in Idaho and surrounding states,” said Senator Goedde, “I am proud to have been recognized by a group which includes ABE in their everyday activities.”
Ballard is a single mother of two who dropped out of school at fifteen to support her bothers, sisters and mother. She worked in food service and mills until an injury convinced her it was time to continue her education. With two children at home she entered the ABE program in Bonners Ferry.
“I’m really grateful for the staff at the Bonners Ferry Center,” she said, “I was nervous and they were very supportive.”
After receiving her GED at age 32 Ballard took her NIC placement exams and placed high enough to enter college level classes. At her most recent midterms she earned straight A’s in her philosophy, speech, and Excel courses.
“I’m enjoying it more than I thought,” she said “I was really scared at first.”
Ballard said she was “shocked and flattered” to receive the award.
“I truly believe, after having listened to individuals who have obtained their GED through the Adult Basic Education system, that no other segment of the population values education more,” said Goedde after the awards were given.
“I am extremely pleased that the Outstanding Legislator and the Outstanding Student for Mountain Plains Adult Education Association and the Idaho Lifelong Learning Association are not only from Idaho but from our own region, here in north Idaho,” said Rex Fairfield director of the ABE/GED program.
“Senator Goedde has long been a supporter and friend of Adult Basic Education and North Idaho College, and Gwin is just one example of the many students that access our program throughout the five northern counties of Idaho.”
“She models the importance of education and the expanded opportunities that become available as a consequence of lifelong learning," Fairfield added. "We, the entire ABE staff, are very proud of both Senator Goedde and Gwin and their involvement with our program.
Gwindolyn said she is now “Teaching her children to stay in school, get an education, and shoot for the moon.”