On her first day of classes, Kelly Wagner, PHC’s new adjunct Spanish professor, gave students a chance to ask her anything they wanted. The students’ queries ranged anywhere from “What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?” (a crème brûlée latte) to “What’s your biggest regret in life?” (not pursuing medical school).
“I think that when you’re honest with people, when you let them see who you are, it makes you more approachable, which then leads to a good working relationship,” Wagner said later.
Before coming to PHC, Wagner worked for 10 years on Capitol Hill for a Hispanic nonprofit group, researching issues that impacted Hispanics in the United States, such as voting issues, citizenship, and minority business initiatives. For a time, she worked on a hotline where people would call in and ask – in Spanish – about the requirements to become a US citizen.
Now, besides teaching Spanish I and III at PHC, Wagner teaches high school Spanish for the Loudon County public schools. Throughout her time as a teacher, she has found a wide range of interest levels, and has observed how much a student’s interest affects how engaged that student is in class. At PHC, Wagner has found her students to be “extremely motivated, very hard working, and sincere… they want to succeed and do well.”
Wagner loves to laugh with her students; she endeavors to make learning as fun and personal as possible. “Learning from Professor Wagner is an uplifting experience; she really simplifies difficult concepts well and is good at explaining things in more than one way,” said Spanish III student Rachel Hebert.
Another new face on campus this semester is Sherry Doyle, the voice professor. Doyle, however, is not altogether unfamiliar with PHC; she taught here six years ago, but left when she felt God telling her it was time to go.
While she was gone, Doyle worked on her doctorate and spent time growing her family. She ended up having another child of her own and adopted two kids, one of whom needed open-heart surgery. With the healthcare provided at her new job, the surgery was completely covered. Only then did Doyle realize why God had brought her away from PHC, but she still held the college close to her heart.
“It’s amazing how, when you trust [God] even when it doesn’t look great and it’s not your ideal, He is still faithful and knows the desires of our hearts. God put PHC in my heart, and I couldn’t get rid of it, so I knew that He would bring it back,” Doyle said.
Doyle was shy as a kid, but she liked to sing. Her mother saw her talent and pushed her, refusing to let Doyle give up. It paid off. In her career, Doyle has directed high school chorale, taught voice lessons from her private studio, and sang professionally in D.C.
“Music builds confidence,” Doyle said.“When you sing, you’re very vulnerable, so it pushes you past your insecurities.”
She strives to make personal connections with her students to provide a secure place for them to learn both the technicalities and the artistry of voice.
“I’m here to stay as long as they’ll keep me. I really am committed to the school and to the student body. As long as the Lord has me here, I’ll be here,” Doyle said.
Reporting courtesy of The Herald.