Meridian News
The Sisters of Short Courses
January 31, 2017

Stillwater sisters Joyce Taylor and Barbara Pass have conquered the art of DIY.

In the last five years, they have each taken nearly 10 short courses at Meridian Technology Center, mastering everything from woodworking and ceramic tile to baking and cheese making.

Their short courses story began with Barbara’s plan for a kitchen remodel. Barbara was disappointed with the response she received from local contractors, so Joyce convinced her they could team up and do it themselves.

The siblings grew up helping their dad with projects around the house as kids, but knew they had a considerable learning curve ahead of them. Joyce and Barbara embarked on the renovation project one step at a time, and ultimately one class at a time.

They began with a tile-laying course to help with the floor and backsplash. Then they took a woodworking for beginners class to work on trim, tables and cabinets. Next came a session on home maintenance and repair to teach them how to do drywall repairs and basic electrical and plumbing work. Then masonry to learn additional tiling techniques. That was followed by advanced woodworking to work on a table and a nightstand.

With each class came more and more confidence in their handiwork. The duo put their skills to the test with a renovation of Barbara’s laundry room, adding elements that would be helpful later during the kitchen remodel.

“We wanted to try a small project before we jumped into something like an entire kitchen,” Joyce said. “Barbara knew she was going to be without a kitchen for a while, so she added a sink to the laundry room to create a makeshift space for her during the renovation.”

When warmer weather approached, the sisters went to work. Taking the kitchen down to its studs, they spent the next two years building it back up with the skills they learned at Meridian.

“We intentionally took our time, and we didn’t work all year around,” Joyce said of the extended timeframe. “We were learning as we were going. We’d come up with an idea, realize we didn’t have the tools to do it, and then found a class at Meridian that we could take.”

Learning from industry professionals and having access to specialized equipment was one of the driving forces behind the sisters’ short course selections, Taylor said.

“No matter what class we signed up for, the instructors always worked with us to be sure we were doing things right and making the most out of our projects. It was also fun to see other people’s projects and see what they were working on,” she added.

Joyce estimates that her sister was able to save nearly 50 percent on the renovation project by taking classes at Tech.

“We were able to do a lot of it ourselves thanks to the classes we took at Meridian,” she said. “On what we had to contract out, we still saved money because we were educated consumers.”

With the kitchen now nearly complete, the sisters aren’t stepping away from short courses. Joyce joked that their focus has shifted from what they could do to the kitchen to what they could create in it. Last semester they took How Baking Works, Death by Chocolate and Classic French Pastries. Taylor is excited to plan what she and her sister will try next.

Each semester Meridian offers hundreds of short courses. Many of the professional development short courses have classes during both the day and evening hours, and often meet one or two times during the week. If time is a factor, online training is also available.

Meridian has a new set of classes each spring, summer and fall. For a complete listing of this semester’s courses visit If there is a short course that you would like to see offered at Meridian, contact Titus Lester at or (405) 377-3333.

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