Architecture instructor reflects on 41 years


HICKORY, N.C. (AP) — For 67-year-old instructor Lynn Preslar of Taylorsville, teaching wasn’t only about grades, books and material, it also was about providing students with the right tools while growing up and professionalism, he said.

After 41 years of instructing in the architectural program, Architectural Technology, at Catawba Valley Community College, Preslar retired, he said.

“The last group I had, I was just as much a counselor as I was a teacher,” Preslar said.

Each year, Preslar started his class off by telling them about himself professionally and personally, he said. Then he would ask the students to do the same, he added.

“He was a father figure,” Scott Weber, a former student of Preslar, said. “If something was going on in (a student’s) life, he was there.”

These students opened up to Preslar, he said.

“Your eyes are coming out of your head,” Preslar said about the stories he heard.

He had a smaller group for his last class, so he was able to have a lot of one-on-one time.

“It was very rewarding seeing this group get through graduating and securing positions where they are doing well now,” Preslar said.

Preslar was a personable man who cared for each of his students, Weber said.

He is a great man who dedicated himself to his students, Rick Reinhardt said, who graduated from CVCC and worked part-time at CVCC with Preslar.

Preslar graduated from Catawba Valley Technical Institute, which turned into CVCC, in 1969 going toward architecture drafting. He graduated from Western Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in 1986.

He worked a part-time job during school at CVTI, but his first job as a draftsman was for Gene Moretz at Bethlehem Realtry. Then he worked for Architect Jim Sherrill.

“(Sherrill) kind of took me under his wing,” Preslar said.

After a few jobs in architecture, Preslar was asked to teach at CVCC in 1974.

“Teaching was the farthest thing from my mind, I had never thought about teaching,” Preslar said.

After taking a few days to think about it, he interviewed for the position and got hired.

“This was in God’s plan, the whole career thing because things just fell into place,” Preslar said.

With an increased salary as an instructor, his wife, Elaine Preslar, was able to stay at home and raise their children, Casey Preslar and Andrea Smith.

Today, in most cases both parents have to work and raise children, but the Preslars were able to raise their family with one salary.

“We were fortunate to have this place for (our children) to grow up in,” Preslar said.

Thirty-eight years ago, Preslar drew the plans for his house and built it, even though he had never built anything before.

“For the most part, I think I touched every piece of wood in (the house),” Preslar said.

Preslar brought students over to do the electrical work on his house as a learning exercise.

At CVTI, the architectural program had two instructors teaching 25 to 30 students. When enrollment started to decrease a few years ago, the program switched to one instructor, he said.

“For me, it was more than teaching students how to draw, we had a lot of talks on how to handle and speak professionally,” Preslar said.

Hundreds of students went through this program leading them to architecture, contracting, engineering, residential designers and more. The program allowed students to go in a variety of directions.

CVCC terminated the architectural program in December 2015 due to enrollment decreasing. The program lasted around 50 years.

Throughout his 41 years, he worked under three school presidents, Robert Paap, Cuyler Dunbar and Garrett Hinshaw, who were all supportive of the program, Preslar said. The program also had support from the professional community.

Even if the program continued, Preslar said he would still retire after one more year. He said God has him in this next phase of his life for a reason.

Preslar made a long lasting relationship and best friend through the program, and he stays in touch with several of his students.

“I’ll miss being there and having those relationships with students,” Preslar said.

Students have left him thank you notes or let him know where they landed a job. It is gratifying as a teacher to hear students’ success stories.

Retiring isn’t drinking lemonade and relaxing, Preslar said.

He still draws on the side, stays involved with his church, has hobbies like golf and fishing and attends to multiple yards and garden.

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Information from: The Hickory Daily Record, http://www.hickoryrecord.com

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