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Brantley offers support for HBC night students

April 12, 2005|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

John Brantley

Age - 47.

Occupation - Evening Studies Coordinator at Hagers-town Business College.

Hometown - Lolita, Texas. Now lives in Hagerstown.

Where would you see Brantley? - During daytime hours, Brantley focuses his energy on volunteer activities through his church - Bethel Assembly of God in Hagers-town. Come midafternoon, he switches hats and begins his work, that of providing support for the nighttime students at Hagerstown Business College.

Brantley began working at HBC in 1999 in the Admissions office and became Evening Studies Coordinator two years ago.

He started a class for new students last fall called Strategies for Success. It utilizes a testing system, StrengthsQuest, that helps students identify five talents and strengths - even the faculty and administrative staff have taken the assessment.

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This helps students succeed in college, as well as in life, Brantley said. And instructors are better able to serve their students knowing what those strengths are and encouraging students to accept and use them.

"A lot of good people are not making it in college ... it's easy to lose focus in the initial phases," said Brantley, referring to students in both four-year colleges and smaller specialized colleges. "StrengthsQuest gets them focused ... It's a pretty powerful thing being told that you have these strengths and you're going to develop them."

He also coordinates a seminar for new students before classes even begin. The focus is on time management, study skills, goal achievement and student success - designed to prepare students for a successful college experience.

Student assessments support the program. "They've been absolutely fantastic. They have really appreciated the opportunity," Brantley said. "...For our students, I can see dramatic results after that class."

Brantley, who said he's always been interested in education, retired after 22 years with the U.S. Air Force. He was an Air Education Training Commander and his last tour of duty was at Fort Detrick.

He attended about 10 colleges through the Air Force Management program.

When Brantley retired, he and his wife, Debbie, who is from Knoxville, Tenn., began house hunting in Frederick but ended up buying a house on Oak Hill Avenue in Hagerstown. Their two sons graduated from North High.

Joseph, the oldest son, is an HBC graduate and now works at Fort Detrick. Jonathan is in the U.S. Air Force. He recently finished a tour in Korea and is now stationed in Germany.

The Brantleys have lived in Hagerstown for seven years, the longest they've lived in one location in the past 25 years, Brantley said.

"One of the really great things we enjoyed about this particular community, we didn't spend any time making an adjustment. It felt like we'd always lived here," Brantley said.

Hobbies - "I guess my hobby's church - if I'm not here (at work), I'm at church," Brantley said. He's involved with the food distribution ministry at Bethel, having picked up approximately 300 pounds of food with expired dates from Food Lion that day.

"It's something meaningful to do with my time. It makes a difference," he said. "It's taught in class (at HBC) - 'Get out there and make a difference.'"

He's also involved with the benevolence ministry and "PrimeTimers" seniors ministry.

What does Brantley like best about Washington County? - Brantley, who grew up in a town of 250 people, said Hagerstown seems like a "huge metropolis" sometimes.

"I guess the pat answer is 'the people,'" he said.

He recalls how after church one Sunday an older member brought him a package of trout that he'd recently caught at Deep Creek Lake. "I guess it's the sense of community. I enjoy those ties," Brantley said.

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If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail janeth@herald-mail.com.

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