written by Gayle J. Fritz
Ashland Community and Technical College Professor Ralfred Hall has received the prestigious Gussler Fellow Award in Mathematics and Science for 2014. The award was announced at ACTC’s Graduation Ceremony on May 9.
The award was established in 2007 by Dr. C. Gordon Gussler and his wife, Dixie Gussler. Their endowment of more than a million dollars to the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland, Inc. was established to reward and encourage outstanding math and science faculty on an annual basis.
The award was a way to honor two teachers who inspired Dr. Gussler when he was a student at Ashland Junior College in 1944.
“I am overwhelmed to receive this award,” Hall said. “It is gratifying to know how much my students and co-workers think of me and my teaching styles.”
Hall has taught math and physics at the college since 1994.
His love of math and physics could have developed during the years he spent working for his father at construction sites where he saw the real-world, practical application of both subjects.
It could also be attributed to being a first-generation college student who worked diligently to be in the top of his high school class while also taking auto mechanics classes. Or, it could be as a result of the education he received at Alice Lloyd College or Morehead State University.
A native Eastern Kentuckian, he grew up in Salyersville and graduated from Magoffin High School.
“I was advised to take a vocational class in high school as a backup plan in case I didn’t go to college,” Hall said. “Since I worked summers with my father who was a master carpenter and master electrician, I decided to take a class in auto-mechanics, which I could learn something my father couldn’t teach me.”
“By the end of high school, I had learned three trades; Carpentry, Electricity and Auto- Mechanics. I had earned a place in Auto-Mechanics at Mayo State Vocational Technical School but because of my grades, particularly in math, I also earned a full scholarship to Alice Lloyd College (ALC). I was advised to attend ALC, because if I didn’t like it, I could always go to Mayo.”
“I knew I wanted to major in mathematics, but ‘Math and Physical Science Secondary Education’ was the closest major offered at ALC, so that became my major. “
“During my sophomore year, my education teacher said that my outgoing personality would make me a great teacher because students would enjoy my class and easily relate to me. That’s when teaching became my goal.”
“Although I was certified to teach math, chemistry, and physics when graduating from ALC in 1988, it was my background in auto-mechanics, carpentry and electricity that landed me a job at Mayo State Vo-Tech school, the present Big Sandy Community and Technical College Mayo campus. So, I ended up at Mayo after all, but as an instructor, not as a student.”
Hall earned a master’s degree in Vocational Education Administration Supervision from Morehead State University in 1993. He transferred to the then Ashland Technical College in 1994 to teach math, chemistry and physics to students in the Applied Process Technologies Program.
“After watching my students learn and actually enjoy learning such academic subjects as math and physics, I’ve realized that teaching is truly my calling. I have really enjoyed teaching these last 26 years, and I hope to continue to enjoy my profession for many years.”
“I have never felt like I have to get up and go to work in the morning, but that I have the chance to go to the college and inspire students in mathematics and physics. I tell my students that I hope each and every one of them will someday have a career that they enjoy as much as I enjoy mine. This has inspired more than one of my students to go on to become a teacher,” he said.
Inspiring students is what the Gussler Fellow Award is designed to recognize and encourage. Faculty can be nominated for the award by current and former students, college staff and faculty members, and area residents.
Selection criteria are:
• Inspiring students to reach within themselves to find and develop capabilities the student may not have realized they had;
• Empowering and motivating students to succeed beyond their experiences at Ashland Community and Technical College and;
• Instilling in students a love of learning and a desire to continue their education at an institution offering a bachelor’s degree.
Each Gussler Award recipient receives a financial stipend, equal to two percent of the value of the endowment fund, for two years.
Previous award recipients are Professor Alice “Kay” Thompson, Dr. Mary Catherine Flath, Professor Richard Conley and Dr. James Schmidt.