For most of her life, Gayla Myers has been involved in education. From preschoolers to adults and everyone in between, she has been helping students.
Myers is retiring as Seward County Community College’s TRiO/Student Support Services Director. She started at the college in 2012 as an educational specialist in the department before taking over as director in 2013.
“I decided that I wanted a little bit of a change a few years before I was ready to retire so I started looking in this area and Missouri,” Myers said, adding that her youngest daughter was close by in Meade. “I saw some positions here at the college so I applied and took a position with the TRiO department.”
Myers has been a principal at several schools, including Coffeyville and Larned. Her last stop before heading to SCCC was Johnson, Kansas. She has also been a school administrator so the transition to SCCC was not a difficult one.
Myers greatly enjoyed her time at SCCC and the TRiO office.
“It was very rewarding,” Myers said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got to see students wanting to further their careers and education and our program helped them do that. I found it a very worthwhile job.”
Student Support Services is a federally funded grant program designed to help students succeed. SSS provides 160 students with services geared towards ensuring that they not only graduate from Seward, but are prepared to continue their education at a four-year institution. The TRiO-SSS staff works in collaboration with other staff, faculty, and administrators to provide a solid foundation of support.
Myers graduated from Dodge City Community College in 1973 with an associate in business, went on to get a bachelor’s in teaching in 1993 and master’s in educational administration in 1998, both at Fort Hays State.
The satisfaction that she gets from her time at SCCC are the returning students.
“Just seeing students come back in and say, ‘I’m glad you helped me’ or “I’m glad you pushed me even though I didn’t want to.’ Seeing them walk across the stage when they graduated. They’re all good memories.”
Since her time at TRiO, Myers worked with Alex Widener and watched her develop. Widener has worked in TRiO as secretary, program coordinator, advisor and – eventually as Myer’s successor – director.
“(One of my proudest moments) was handing the baton to Alex,” Myers said. “I kind of pushed her along and tutored her the whole time I was here so I could get her ready for (the director’s position) and she just transitioned right into that. That makes me feel good.”
In general, Myers believed that she has kept the department on the right track.
“(I made) sure the grant was successful and that we maintained our number of students we were supposed to each year,” she said. “Just to keep building on what previous people had done and I feel that we accomplished all that.”
While she is leaving to help her parents, she will also be pursing her passion and that is to make quilts.
“I also intend finish my dream of opening up a quilt shop – long-arm quilting,” Myers said. Long-arm quilting is when you take the quilt tops that people have made and finish them by putting a design on them.
But don’t think that she’s giving up the education side by pursuing her dream.
“And (quilting) will involve some teaching as well,” Myers said. “I hope to give lessons on quilting.”