Mark & Sherry Stout
Both Mark and Sherry Stout successfully earned their GED® diplomas and walked in ''cap and gown'' ceremonies across the Sam Center Auditorium stage on Mayland’s Main Campus.
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Embracing Personal Goals, Education, and Employment
Mark and Sherry Stout will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary on March 31, 2012. They met when both were attending 10th grade at Faith Christian School in Spruce Pine. "It was a good school," Mark and Sherry agreed, "but we were drawn out of the classroom by the thoughts of getting a job and earning a steady paycheck."
So, when they were sixteen, these two special friends left school and started working at a local fast food restaurant. After a span of time, they both left this workplace and went their separate ways, never to see one another again until 15 years had passed.
Then, one Sunday, when Sherry was visiting her Aunt Ruby in the hospital, providence placed Mark at that very same location and at the very same time. Their eyes met, their memory recalled their sweet friendship of yesteryear, and their hearts began to beat just a little bit faster.
Their special friendship matured into a lovely courtship which soon resulted in their engagement; then Mark and Sherry's lifetime commitment to one another was blessed in marriage. Today, they both agree they could never have been favored with a more wonderful, perfect life's companion. Their love and respect for each other is clearly evident as they smile while easily sharing their story of bygone days as well as their hope and faith in their future together.
For twelve years, they have enjoyed their mutual love of the great outdoors and camping (Mark has a passion for deer hunting and fishing), their loyalty to family ties, their faith in God, a commitment to caring for their beloved parents and precious "grand young’uns" Trevin (3) and Aden (1), a continuing interest in education, a heart for helping others, and service in their church at Greater Joy Fellowship in Newland.
Mark is gifted in woodworking, construction, and carpentry, and in his younger years he earned a comfortable living by investing these talents as an employee at Lexington and Ethan Allen Furniture Companies. But when these two valuable industries closed locally and relocated outside North Carolina, Mark said he knew it was time to make a major life change.
"Companies were not hiring anyone unless they had finished high school or earned their GED®. I knew I could do the job and do it well at many places I applied for work, but I did not have the diploma which was required to get a better job with benefits. I understood that it was time for me to enroll at Mayland Community College and earn my high school equivalency, the GED®."
Meanwhile, Sherry's workplace of 14 years, Taylor Togs in Micaville, had relocated to Mexico. So, for personal satisfaction and to prepare herself for future employment, Sherry, too, (along with hundreds of other local displaced workers who were losing their jobs due to Tri-County industry closings) enrolled in classes at Mayland Community College.
Both Mark and Sherry Stout successfully earned their GED® diplomas and walked in ''cap and gown'' ceremonies (with cheering family and friends present to help them celebrate) across the Sam Center Auditorium stage on Mayland’s Main Campus. Sherry lacks only one final class at MCC and she will have earned her degree in Horticulture. One day she hopes to have her own business: Sweet Water Greenhouse. "Sweet Water will be a perfect name," Sherry says, as she reflects on her future greenhouse which had been envisioned by “Poppe,” her late, beloved father-in-law. For now, as Sherry awaits completion of that one final class, she is experiencing great personal satisfaction as a busy and happily devoted homemaker who loves having a delicious hot meal waiting for Mark when he arrives home in the evening following a day's work of service at his dream job.
In 2011, Mark completed 168 hours of "Detention Officer Training" in the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) classes at Mayland and successfully passed the state certification examination which is required for all Detention Officers who serve at any Sheriff’s Office across the state of North Carolina. In addition, Mark earned certification in CPR and Fire Safety as well as in Subject Control, and he is now employed with the Sheriff's Office of Avery County.
Mark said, "The Mayland instructors who led these BLET classes were Steve Clawson, Mark McWilliams, and Bruce Pittman; they are top-quality law enforcement teachers and do an excellent job. The classes are interesting and filled with good information and lots of hands-on training. Students learn a lot and are well-prepared for their service as detention officers."
Steve Clawson, Mayland Community College BLET Instructor, said, "Mark Stout was a great BLET Detention Officer student and is an all-around fine person. We enjoyed having Mark in class, and we are proud of his success; he will definitely be an asset as a Detention Officer with the Sheriff's Office of Avery County."
Mark and Sherry said they continue to thank God for opening the door to their wonderful learning experiences at Mayland Community College. "We know first-hand," they agreed, "that when one door closes, God opens another door."
Their message to teenagers is: "DO NOT DROP OUT OF SCHOOL!! It is not worth it! The grass is NOT greener on the other side (outside the classroom). Going to school is always easier when you are young; your hard work and study will pay off in big ways. It’s worth all the effort, so STAY IN SCHOOL!!"
"If you are over age 18, and you have already dropped out of school, for whatever reason, enroll in the free GED® classes now at Mayland before all the upcoming GED® changes occur," said the Stouts. "The GED® instructors are terrific to study with and they are very patient. They work with each student individually and help you prepare at your own speed to successfully earn your high school equivalency diploma. We did it; you can do it, too!"
"Prepare TODAY for your dream job of TOMORROW. You can be prepared for when the employment market strengthens and offers new and better job opportunities and a brighter future for you and your family," said Mark.