Name of Paul F. Meyers visual arts center honors influential teacher, mento

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Name of Paul F. Meyers visual arts center honors influential teacher, mentoSome people make a big difference to those around them. Former Cerro Coso Community College Teacher Paul F. Meyers had a mighty impact on his students, fellow teachers and indeed community colleges across the nation.

The Oct. 26 naming of the Paul F. Meyers Visual Arts Center recognizes those superb contributions.

“He’d see something that needed to get done, so he’d make it happen,” said Lois Hinman, one Ridgecrest’s many accomplished artists who cite Meyers as their mentor.

Meyers hiimself called the building’s new name “a tremendous honor for which I and my family are deeply appreciative and of which we are very proud.

“There have been many exemplary faculty who I?feel were equally deserving of this honor. I?feel like the naming of the building honors teachers and teaching, not just me.”

Meyers, who moved here with his wife Chris when he was hired by the college in 1973, worked for years toward a major remodeling of the college’s art department.

He is now retired, and he and Chris (who grew up here as a member of the accomplished Auld family) still live here.

Meyers taught at Cerro Coso for 30 years, working for many of those years toward a major remodeling of the college’s art department. He “was highly responsible for making sure the remodel happened,” according to Dick Benson, fellow teacher.

Meyers was also the prime mover of the team that spearheaded efforts to get an online college program going at Cerro Coso in an era where most colleges didn’t have such programs.

Funded by a $675,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges, the California Virtual University’s first class, “Developing a Web Page Using HTML,” was written by Meyers in the spring of 1997. More than 70 students enrolled.

Microsoft Corporation became interested in his work and invited him to visit the software giant’s facility in the Seattle area. A heavy classroom schedule kept him from accepting, so a Microsoft crew came all the way to Ridgecrest in September 1997 to film how Paul was using the company’s FrontPage program in an educational application. The application’s developers welcomed this departure from Microsoft’s previous focus on business applications.

That same year Meyers did workshops for Microsoft at the League of Innovation conference in Atlanta, focusing on using FrontPage to either integrate the Internet into the classroom or develop an online classroom.

His lesson plans and resource guides for his online class formed the basis for his book, “The HTML Web Classroom,” published by Prentice-Hall in 1998.

As of 1999, thanks to his work and that of others at Cerro Coso, our local college had been named was one of the state’s main sites for the California Virtual University.

Meyers also developed and patented a variable mold, a tool used in making pottery.

Another of his maojr contributions involved his artistry and the creative energy he freely shared with his students.

“He was very innovative when he was teaching pottery,” said Hinman, now a well-known local artist. “A group of us took classes together for three years. Every summer we had workshops that he taught.

“We built a potter’s wheel and then we went out and gathered up raw materials from nature and ground them up to make glazes and clay, and made pots out of them. “Every summer he’d have some kind of workshop. That was when you could repeat classes. We brought other students in, and we got a well-rounded education in pottery from him.

“He was funny. He told these outrageous stories and he’d look at you and say, ‘You don’t believe me?’ and then the stories turned out to be true. And he was so proud of his family, as well he should be.

“He started the online classes at the college, so that Cerro Coso had an art degree program. I owe my ceramic education to him, as do a lot of people in this valley.”

A few years ago, when asked what she liked best about Ridgecrest, Hinman’s immediate answer was, “The mud!” Meyers’ teaching probably had something to do with that.

“He was my first pottery and sculpture teacher, back in 1990,” said artist Paula Caudill. “He and Dick Benson taught me how to look at the world in a different way. I learned to really look at colors and shapes. They taught me to pay close attention to everything around me.

“Probably the most valuable thing I learned from Paul Meyers was that I was far more capable of doing things than I ever thought possible. Paul kept pushing me to do far more than I ever thought I could do. My life was profoundly changed because of it.

“Another thing I learned from him was not to keep a piece of pottery or any other type of work that was only ‘OK.’ That was a really valuable lesson for me. I can’t tell you how many pots I have destroyed since, knowing that they weren’t quite good enough.

“Thanks to Paul, I’ve learned that ‘good enough’ is not good enough for me. Because of him, my life is far richer and fuller and more exciting, and I am so grateful to Paul for his encouragement and guidance.

“I am only one person whose life was affected by this man. I can only imagine how many others he has helped and influenced over the years he taught at Cerro Coso.”

Story First Published: 2012-12-05