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Welcome to the A-B Tech South “Spotlights” series – short interviews of students, faculty or staff who either attend classes or work here at the South location. The purpose is for all of us to get to know each other better and to make A-B Tech South just a little bit friendlier than it already is.
September 17, 2014
This is the seventh in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. Erika Lytle teaches Public Speaking (COM 231) at A-B Tech South. She also teaches Interpersonal Communications and Intercultural communications on the main campus.
Erika Lytle – A-B Tech South teacher
Erika exudes joy from the moment you meet her. An Asheville native, her parents are both educators at Warren Wilson College. When asked why she chose to teach communications she lights up. “I studied several areas of communications including broadcasting, but I got really excited when I took a class on intercultural communications. It affects everything…we are surrounded by communications every minute of every day. One of my goals is to teach students how to communicate confidently and competently. At the same time I believe it’s important to embrace who they are, to be themselves.”
Most people don’t know that Erika has Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. She says it has changed her life in positive ways. “I see every day as a gift and don’t take it for granted. I live daily with joy, hope and inner peace.”
When asked for words to describe herself Erika answered, “Outgoing, down-to-earth, and well-rounded.” She is that and so much more. One of her favorite things to do in her free time is to travel. She loves exploring new places especially those with rich, cultural diversity. Egypt, Turkey and Barcelona, Spain are a few of her favorite places.
Erika said that a lot of things motivate her. “My family, students, God, and life itself inspires me. Life is so interesting…moment by moment.” Erika is a very special teacher and students enrolled in any of her classes have been given a gift. One of her teaching philosophies is to be transparent. She believes in getting to know her students. “Let’s talk,” she says with a smile, and anyone who takes her up on it is in for a treat.
July 24, 2014
This is the sixth in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. Corbin Clark is enrolled as a student in our Adult Basic Skills and High School Equivalency (GED) program here at A-B Tech South.
Corbin Clark – A-B Tech South student in the GED program
Corbin is a student in A-B Tech South’s GED program and has been attending since January of this year. When asked if he likes the program he answered, “I love it. Ms. Greer takes the time to explain things to me so that I can understand it – she is very patient.” Corbin has already passed 2 of the required tests in English and Social Studies and just has Math and Science left to take. Once he completes his GED he plans on enrolling in A-B Tech’s Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology program. He found out he is good at working with engines when he attended an auto tech class at TC Roberson High School. “But I already knew I was comfortable working with anything mechanical long before that. My nickname is carburetor.” His goal is to move to Tennessee and set up a ranch with his cousin. He knows he will be able to fix any engine and keep things running smoothly.
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Corbin grew up in the Asheville area. The youngest of 7 (he has 3 step-siblings and 3 siblings) and 2 of them are Marines. He comes from a military family. His grandfather, who was his best friend and someone he greatly admired and loved, was in the Navy. His grandfather passed away on November 20th, 2013, and Corbin was there holding his hand. When asked who has inspired him he quickly said, “My grandfather, my Uncle Jeff and my cousin Mason.”
Corbin describes himself as laid-back, funny and trustworthy. He has a kind heart and is willing to help anyone, anytime. I saw this firsthand a few months back when a fellow student had a dead battery in his car and I unearthed my battery cables and gave the car a jump. Corbin was there helping his friend without regard to the pouring rain soaking them both. He holds dear what God teaches in the Bible and tries his best to be a presentable young man. “I believe in family and living the good old American dream,” says Corbin. “I want to grow old with someone I love. I’m really a simple person.”
Recently Corbin was asked to deliver a sermon at Fairhaven Baptist church in Hendersonville. He did so even though he is naturally shy and doesn’t like getting up in front of an audience. Corbin said that seeing people happy, being with the ones he loves, and preaching gives him joy. He is a remarkable young man who is drawn to being of service. I know our world would be a lot better if we had more people like Corbin in it.
June 20, 2014
This is the fifth in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. Joanne Lazar teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) here at A-B Tech South.
Joanne Lazar – A-B Tech South English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher
“I enjoy teaching ESL at A-B Tech South,” says Joanne. ESL students can be from all over the world, but in Joanne’s classroom they are from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Ecuador. She finds teaching this program a pleasure because the students are so motivated to learn. Their motives range from wanting to help their children with homework to getting a better job.
Most of Joanne’s students love the A-B Tech South location because they either live or work in the area and are very familiar with it. Two of the students even work right next door at Sonic Drive In and go to work right after attending class. One of the changes that have been made to the ESL program is to divide the students into 2 levels – beginning and more advanced. Joanne teaches the beginning level.
Born in New Jersey, Joanne grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, the youngest of 4 girls. She began her career as a social worker in Florida, then became a school guidance counselor, and finally a teacher. She moved from Florida to North Carolina to attend graduate school in Boone. She was a counselor at an elementary school in Maiden, NC for several years. But teaching lured her and after attaining her teaching certification she taught 1st and 2nd grades in Hickory. Eventually she found her way to teaching ESL.
One of the life experiences that have prepared her for teaching ESL was teaching for 2 years in Guadalajara, Mexico. She taught pre-1st grade and while there travelled throughout Mexico. This experience helps her to relate to her students. “I know firsthand how difficult it is to learn a new language and culture. I can easily put myself in their shoes.”
Joanne has a gentle and soft-spoken way about her that puts her students at ease. Most people wouldn’t know that she loves Contra dancing – and can be found on Thursday nights at Warren Wilson College. She even met her (now) husband there. Joanne and her husband have been married 10 years and she has 2 grown step sons who live in Oregon. They still Contra dance.
Walking, hiking, looking at wildflowers and reading are among Joanne’s interests. Her teaching philosophy is to try to get to know her students individually on a personal level and find their strengths. “Friendly, active and curious,” are words that Joanne uses to describe herself. I would say she is also gentle, caring and extremely kind – a teacher who deeply cares about her students and tries her best to make their lives better.
May 21, 2014
This is the fourth in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. Patti Cutspec teaches Public Speaking (COM 231) at A-B Tech South. Patti earned her Master’s degree from the University of Hartford in Connecticut, and her Ph. D from Purdue University in Indiana.
Patti Cutspec – A-B Tech South teacher
Patti is by no means run of the mill and her students benefit greatly from it. She has been teaching for many years and even earned her Master’s degree (free) in exchange for being a teaching assistant. Patti especially loves teaching at A-B Tech South because of the calm, relaxed atmosphere and diverse student population. “It’s wonderful to see our more seasoned students help and encourage the younger ones,” says Patti. “In my current Public Speaking class this happens all the time and it’s magical.”
Patti was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in Marlton, NJ which is near Philadelphia. She is married and has twin daughters (22 yrs.) and a son (24 yrs.). Her twins will be graduating soon from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Otterbein College in Columbus. Her son is in a management training program with a local restaurant. She has lived in several places, but settled in the Asheville area 25 years ago. Her parents followed her here to be near her and her family. Her mother passed away five years ago and she is now the primary caregiver to her father. “He lives 4 houses away from us,” says Patti, “and I find I’m doing more and more for him -- but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Patti’s open heartedness shines through as she lovingly describes her dad. She also volunteers at various nonprofits including Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and the local animal shelter.
In her spare time Patti is a voracious reader and avid horsewoman. When asked for 3 adjectives to describe herself she replied sensitive, fair and loyal. Her life philosophy is “No regrets.” Sometimes Patti will begin a class by handing out pictures and crayons and asking students to color them. She suggests coloring outside the box – and also encourages students to express their authentic selves. She has her own unique style of teaching and usually starts classes by sharing something personal about herself. This creates an atmosphere of trust where expressing feelings is okay. She is the rare teacher who goes above and beyond to help her students and truly makes a difference. When asked who inspires her she replied, “My kids, my husband and my students. My students truly touch my life and are my extended family.” How very lucky are the students who have Patti for their teacher…
April 25, 2014
This is the third in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. Tiffany Meetz is an A-B Tech South student enrolled in Patti Cutspec’s Public Speaking class (COM 231). Tiffany will graduate in May and will continue her education at Lees- McRae College pursuing a degree in Human Services.
Tiffany Meetz – A-B Tech South student
It is a rare moment that you get to meet a person whose very presence touches something deep within you – Tiffany Meetz is that special someone. Tiffany, born in West Virginia, felt that she “was always a Buddhist.” As an adult living in North Carolina she attended the University of North Carolina in Greensboro (UNCG) and took classes in Buddhism. Later she moved to Hendersonville and studied at the Embracing Simplicity Hermitage Buddhist temple. Following a year of intense study she was ordained as a Buddhist nun into the Sisters of Compassionate Wisdom and 2 days later found herself on a plane to India.
Tiffany, along with the first ordained African-American Buddhist nun and 2 monks, traveled to the state of Tamil Nadu to “bear witness” (experience the same suffering) as the Dalits. Dalits, or Untouchables, are the lowest members of the Hindu caste system. The term itself means crushed or broken into pieces. There are over 240 million Untouchables in India and they are shunned, abused and suffer violence at the hands of those in higher castes. Tiffany explained that the Dalits are virtual slaves and are born into debt which they must repay to the government. They do this by performing tasks that no one else would – collecting the dead, butchering animals, etc. She and her companions lived like the Dalits for 2 months – eating only when they ate, sleeping on the ground, bathing by cupful, and overall living a life of poverty and suffering. At the end of 2 months Tiffany weighed only 87 pounds and was exhausted and sick. Upon returning to the US she was hospitalized for 3 weeks and was treated for pneumonia and an internal parasite. She also had to undergo counseling to become assimilated back into our American culture. “We have so much here and they have so little, “says Tiffany. “I just kept thinking that the food in one Ingles store could feed a whole village in India.”
“The Dalits are the kindest, gentlest, most open hearted people I have ever met,” says Tiffany. “Even with all that they have to endure when we entered a village they just wanted to touch us and give us gifts from the few precious items they had.” Tiffany’s group was able to free about 500 people by helping them convert to Buddhism.
Tiffany dreams of returning to India someday. She is no longer a Buddhist nun (she is the mother of 2 children), but is still a practicing Buddhist. Her definition of success (like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s) is to have made at least one life breathe easier. There’s no doubt that Tiffany has made many lives breathe easier...
This is the second in a series of A-B Tech South “Spotlights”. A group interview was conducted with Patti Cutspec’s Public Speaking class (COM 231). Questions were asked and responses were unique and surprising. This group illustrates the diversity of our A-B Tech South students. A few are recent high school graduates, others are pursuing new careers having been in the workforce for a while, but most see this path as a way to achieve their dreams. This delightful group of people demonstrates the best of what is happening within our South location – their humor and love for others is infectious.
What’s one of the most daring things you did in childhood?
- I ate seven and a half pounds of ice cream in 35 minutes and won a contest – in Wyoming.
- I bungee-dropped over water and alligators in Florida when I was 12.
- We used to tease the bull at our farm and make him come after us, luckily no one was hurt.
- Doing back flips off of waterfalls was my thing.
- When I was a kid around 7 we went to Saratoga Race Track in New York. A thoroughbred was saddled and ready to go and I jumped on his back when nobody was looking and went around the track hanging on for dear life. I still love anything equestrian to this day.
What was something daring or adventurous that you did as an adult?
- I joined the Air Force when I was 18 when there were only 5% women in the service. I had to jump out of a helicopter at night into the jungles of Vietnam. Pretty scary.
- I was ordained as a Buddhist nun (for 2 years) and went to India. We helped free over 500 slaves or untouchables as they are called in India.
- I moved here from Ohio, not knowing a soul.
- I moved to Louisiana on my own and wound up moving back. I’m glad I had this experience.
- I left a full time job that I had for 10 years as an x-ray technician to go back to school to become an RN and I’m a single parent.
- I moved here from San Diego.
What was one of the most peaceful or joyful experiences you have had?
- I traveled and hiked throughout Scotland all on my own staying in hostels. I loved it and do enjoy my own company.
- Early morning watching the sunrise and doing yoga in my special spot in San Diego.
- Being part of my little brother’s birth. When he finally was born I sobbed tears of relief and joy.
- Watching a sea turtle bury her eggs in the sand on a beach in St. Johns.
- Giving birth to my second child with my 4 year old present. Afterwards we all got to spend the night together.
What talent or characteristic comes to you easily and how do you hope to use it?
- I love people very easily and hope to become a missionary.
- I can play just about any instrument and hope to make music the rest of my life.
- I’m good at reading people’s feelings and plan to use this talent by being a good friend to others.
- Multitasking. I can do it easily and it helps me feel productive.
- I’m a passionate person and can use it to sell anything I’m passionate about.
- I’m a good marksman and love to shoot guns. It keeps me in the present moment.
- I’m artistic and can paint or draw just about anything. I’ve painted several murals at home and in restaurants. People enjoy them.
Andrea Greer – ABE (Adult Basic Education)/HSE (High School Equivalency) Instructor
Andrea teaches ABE/HSE two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 9-12 at A-B Tech South. She works with individuals who either didn’t complete high school and desire a high school equivalency diploma, or did graduate, but need some extra help increasing their Accuplacer scores. Subjects include reading/writing, math, science and social studies.
“I was meant to be a teacher,” says Andrea. “I used to teach my siblings when I was a kid.” At the urging of her Stepfather she majored in Political Science (At Highpoint University), a precursor to becoming a lawyer, but fate had different plans for her. Following college graduation Andrea held various jobs, but wound up teaching at a men’s prison (through Davidson Community College.) “I wasn’t nervous teaching at the prison, in fact I really enjoyed it. With teaching I felt I had come home.”
Born in Rutherfordton, NC, and raised in Archdale, (near High Point) Andrea married her high school sweetheart, Michael, and has 2 sons Nathaniel and Alex. It might surprise you to know that Andrea has a big family --5 sisters and 15 nieces and nephews. There are over 50 of them when they gather for special occasions! When asked where she would love to travel to Andrea replied, “Back to Honduras.” She traveled there in February 2012 with her church group. “I would love to return and bring my family. The people there are incredible – huge hearts. Some of the children walked miles to attend our classes. Before we left we gave each child about 5 crayons and they couldn’t stop thanking us.”
Andrea is currently attending graduate school through Appalachian State University and will attain her Master’s degree in Higher Education with a concentration in community college leadership. Her last class is scheduled for the end of July. “In one of my classes I learned about the heart of a teacher,” says Andrea. “Teaching falls somewhere between your public life and your private life, and I think my students agree that I’m an open book. I love seeing people succeed…it does my heart good.”