Keris Suttles: Teaching with a mission

Keris Suttles: Teaching with a mission

Photo courtesy of Erica Cantrell

Treasure Hardwick, Staff Writer

Regardless of whether you are majoring in Spanish or simply need a language credit, starting to learn a new language can be daunting. But Keris Suttles, professor of Spanish and linguistics at North Greenville University, is sure to instill in you a deep love for learning and language if you take her class.

Suttles grew up in Hendersonville, North Carolina, enjoying the fresh mountain air. She began studying Spanish in high school, excelling in the language and applying herself to learning it well.

She attended NGU herself and majored in interdisciplinary studies. She met her now husband when she offered to tutor him in Spanish class. They fell in love, got married and now have two kids. 

While studying at NGU, Suttles went on several mission trips that ultimately ignited her passion for the Great Commission. Through this, she developed a desire to eliminate language barriers that inhibited others from being able to communicate the gospel thoroughly.

“I feel like the more languages you know, the more responsible you are about telling the gospel,” she said.

Her passion for missions has taken her to Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico to spread the word of Jesus. She is also a member of her church’s mission board.

She graduated from North Greenville University in 2010 and pursued a master’s degree in Spanish at the University of South Carolina.

In 2012, she returned to NGU and began to teach entry-level Spanish classes. She had a deep sense of peace about returning.

She said, “I just knew God called me back to North Greenville, and I can see why now.”

Suttles’ favorite part of teaching is watching her students grasp a new concept.

“I love the moment when you see the eureka. Maybe they hadn’t got it before, and they really struggled with it. It’s just so satisfying after that moment of so much unknown when suddenly it’s clear for them,” she said.

Suttles said that she loves to see her students develop throughout the semester.

“I love to see growth. I love watching things grow, and I love to watch a student from the beginning of the class to the end. It’s amazing to see a student who couldn’t conjugate a verb at the beginning learn so much and develop the skills to write sentences in Spanish,” she said.

Her favorite class to teach is Introduction to Linguistics.

“The class is such an eclectic group of people from a lot of different majors because it can be an elective. We look at everything about language and learn that it all points back to God and His intelligent design,” Suttles said.

She had encouragement for students who plan to take Spanish in the future and who may be intimidated about learning a new language.

“There’s a lot of factors that contribute to language success . . . As long as you have the motivation and engage in class, you will succeed,” she said.

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