OAKWOOD — For the first time, a technical college has back-to-back winners of the Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction.
At a ceremony Thursday night in Atlanta, Lanier Technical College’s David Byers, winner of the same award in 2014, passed the torch to Lanier Tech’s Christian Tetzlaff, who was named the 2015 recipient.
Tetzlaff was one of nine finalists. Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin announced each, spoke of his or her accomplishments and importance as ambassadors of technical education, and then announced Tetzlaff as the 2015 honoree.
A former Lanier Tech student himself, Tetzlaff is the lead instructor of the Motorsports Vehicle Technology Program at Lanier Technical College, and a professional race car driver.
“I chose to teach in technical college because in 1963, at the age of 18, my father risked his life to attain freedom by escaping from Communist-controlled East Germany through the Berlin Wall into West Germany,” Teyzlaff said.
"My father worked his way on a ship to earn passage to the United States, and he learned a few words of English, including work and weld, on the passage. The only thing that he possessed was his technical training as a welder.
“Using his two words of English, he found work as a welder, and with that one skill he built his future, and mine as well.”
The state Rick Perkins Award winner serves as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia. Tetzlaff will make many public appearances throughout the year including addresses to the Georgia General Assembly and the governor, as well as civic organizations, schools and other groups.
The statewide award program honors technical education’s most outstanding instructors at the system’s 25 member institutions. The award has been an ongoing statewide event since 1991 and is designed to recognize and honor technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields.
Formerly known as the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence, the Rick Perkins Award was renamed in memory of Thomas “Rick” Perkins, an instructor at Carroll Technical Institute, who received the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence prior to his untimely death.
For more information about Lanier Technical College, visit www.laniertech.edu.