Pellissippi State puts out cast call for ‘Robber Bridegroom’ bluegrass musical

Bring your musical instruments and singing voices to Pellissippi State Community College. Community-wide auditions get under way the end of this month for “The Robber Bridegroom,” Broadway’s hit bluegrass musical.

Auditions are open to everyone. They take place 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 28-29, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus.

“The Robber Bridegroom” will be presented “Doyle style,” with actors playing instruments and singing throughout. For auditions, performers should bring their own instruments, if possible, to accompany their vocal tryouts.

The play is told in “story theatre” fashion—in a style that lies somewhere between storytelling and an acted-out play. Nine principal actors will appear on a unit set, thus providing extreme flexibility in staging and production and allowing each actor his or her moment to shine. The musical includes a score by composer Robert Waldman to be played by a small onstage band.

Rehearsals are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7-10:30 p.m., as well as occasional Wednesday evenings.

“The Robber Bridegroom” is a rousing, bawdy Southern fairy tale set in 18th-century Mississippi. The play tells the story of Rosamund, the only daughter of the richest planter in the county, and her courting by rascally robber Jamie Lockhart.

Affairs go awry by way of an unconventional case of double-mistaken identity, compounded by the machinations of an evil stepmother intent on Rosamund’s demise, a pea-brained henchman and a hostile talking head in a trunk.

The play includes one of the first genuine bluegrass scores ever heard in a Broadway musical, giving this unusual tale a distinctive sound reminiscent of the Natchez Trace Band. “The Robber Bridegroom” book and lyrics are by Alfred Uhry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Driving Miss Daisy.” The story is based on a 1942 novella of the same name by Eudora Welty.

Pellissippi State presents “The Robber Bridegroom” at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 1-2 and 8-9. Additional performances are set for 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 3 and 10.

For more information, call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State, American Heart Association host August nursing conference

Pellissippi State Community College and the American Heart Association will co-host the inaugural Nurse Symposium at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 8. The theme of the event is “Care for Those Who Give Care.”

“We know that nurses are one of our most valued treasures,” said Pat Myers, director of community outreach and donor engagement at Pellissippi State. “This symposium is a way to both honor them and share learning tools that are vital for better health—better health not only for those who work in the medical field but for all of us.”

The symposium is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Goins Administration Building. Here is the event schedule in brief:

  • 9-11:30 a.m.—Registration, vendor exhibits/screenings and mini-sessions
  • 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.—Lunch
  • 12:45-1:45 p.m.—Keynote speaker and demonstrations presented by Laerdal Medical
  • 2-4 p.m.—Breakout sessions (30 minutes each, running concurrently throughout the afternoon; applicable for continuing education units)

Registration is $10 and includes lunch, an exhibit area with information, and various medical screenings. The event has several key partners, including Covenant Health, East Tennessee Heart Consultants, Tennova Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

To register, as either a participant or a vendor, visit or call (865) 539-7242.

Pellissippi State: Industrial Maintenance cohort helps returning students succeed

Portrait of bald male outside wearing a white shirt with the Alcoa building behind himIf Jay Easter had been required to go through registration each semester, thereby facing the possibility of not getting into a required class, he says he would never have graduated from college. He likely would not have even enrolled.

Fortunately, Easter enrolled in the Industrial Maintenance cohort at Pellissippi State Community College. He earned his degree in 2011 and was promoted by his long-time employer last year.

Enrolling in an area that uses the cohort approach—in which students who enter college start and finish together as one dynamic group—gives students the opportunity to take the worry out of planning their college career. Cohort students have a set of classes already mapped out for them. They do not have to be concerned that a required class will be full and, therefore, unavailable.

Once enrolled, students find a lot more to like about being in a cohort. It’s the group component that Easter found particularly beneficial. He says he and fellow students in Industrial Maintenance, one of the concentrations in the Engineering Technology degree program, became a team. They assisted each other with subject matter, study skills and, most important, motivation.

“If I hadn’t gone back to college with a group of like-minded people, I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he said. “We were so similar—full-time jobs, family concerns, time struggles.

“The few times I thought I couldn’t finish, I kept on going. We didn’t want to let each other down. Being with the same people made getting my degree actually enjoyable. I think I laughed as much in those two years as I did in the past 10.”

Employed by Alcoa, Inc. since 1999, Easter knew that in order to advance further within the management structure, he would have to obtain a degree. He found out about Pellissippi State’s Industrial Maintenance cohort from a coworker.

Easter told his wife that he was going to Pellissippi State to get more information before making any decision, but, to his own surprise, he ended up enrolling on the spot.

“I called my wife and told her, ‘Honey, I think I just enrolled in college,’” he said, laughing. “Pat Riddle [an associate professor and the Industrial Maintenance program coordinator] made it so much easier.

“I had been afraid of going back to school, but the cohort model was appealing. I don’t know if I would have made it through the stresses of a traditional program.” Easter was also the recipient of a scholarship for his studies at Pellissippi State.

Students in the Industrial Maintenance concentration learn about multicraft, industrial machinery maintenance and repair technology. Courses emphasize safety, teamwork, efficient work practices and communication skills, all of which are sought by employers in the industry.

Designed for working professionals, the accelerated Industrial Maintenance cohort classes meet two evenings each week over the course of six semesters. Class size is limited to allow for more in-depth individual and group instruction.

Another of the concentration’s cohorts begins this August, with graduation slated for spring 2015. Upon successful completion, students earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. They are then eligible, if they choose, to transfer to any state university as a junior.

Additional cohorts are also available at Pellissippi State: Associate of Science General Education Certificate, Associate of Science in Teaching, Communication Studies and Culinary Arts. All of these cohorts are now enrolling students for fall 2013. Cohorts available for spring 2014 are Computer Accounting, Culinary Arts and Management.

Pellissippi State’s fall 2013 application deadline is Aug. 14. Classes begin on Aug. 24.

For additional information, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

View a video of Jay Easter’s speech recorded by a friend during the 2011 Cohort Family Night event at Pellissippi State:

Pellissippi State Paralegal Studies student garners state scholarship

Portrait of a female with blonde straight hair wearing a green patterned shirtThe Tennessee Association of Legal Professionals chose one college student to receive a scholarship in spring semester, and that recipient is a Pellissippi State Community College student.

Kelli Canan, a Paralegal Studies major, learned in April that she had been chosen to receive the $500 TALS scholarship.

“This scholarship will help me to afford to take more classes, provide flexibility and opportunities for me as I manage family and professional responsibilities as a non-traditional student, and work to achieve my professional goals in a time-efficient manner,” she wrote in an essay to TALS Scholarship Committee members.

The Knoxville resident is raising two children, working and attending Pellissippi State. She is also a school and community volunteer.

Paralegal Studies is a two-year program that prepares graduates to work in a law office under the direct supervision of an attorney, doing legal work such as drafting legal documents, organizing files, conducting legal research and investigations, and managing the office.

The program is approved by the American Bar Association and culminates in an Associate of Applied Science degree.

For more information about Paralegal Studies, email Arlene Cleveland, program coordinator, at To learn more about Pellissippi State’s many other programs, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: Employee publishes instructional ‘cookbook’ on learning management system

Portrait of a male with short hair and glasses in plaid standing in front of computersSometimes good questions prompt more than answers. Sometimes they inspire a book.

For Brandon Ballentine of Pellissippi State Community College, that book is the “Desire2Learn Higher Education Cookbook,” recently released by Packt Publishing, a U.K.-based technical book publisher.

A D2L administrator for the college, Ballentine fields questions daily from faculty members who use D2L for their online classes. The D2L learning management system enables instructors to upload and manage online class materials such as study guides, tests, and grades. It is used by colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the globe.

Ballentine says he first envisioned what came to be the book as an online resource for use nationwide.

“I thought, ‘So many schools are writing their own tutorials, their own documentation, and their own tips and tricks,’” he said. “‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a central site that everyone could go to so that everyone isn’t duplicating work across the state or the country?’”

Before Ballentine could complete the website, however, Packt Publishing contacted him through LinkedIn and proposed the idea for a book.

“I had some decent notes and had started writing some chapters,” he said. “So when Packt got in touch, I had an idea of at least some things I wanted to include in the book.”

The goal of the “cookbook” is to help teachers gain expert knowledge of the tools within D2L, become more productive and create online learning experiences with the easy-to-follow recipes. And Ballentine was just the person to write it.

Having begun working at Pellissippi State in 2009, he is an instructional technology specialist in Educational Technology Services. He also teaches a course on mobile web design. While earning his master’s degree in English at East Tennessee State University, Ballentine worked in the university’s Academic Technology Support group. He says he has always been comfortable with both words and technology.

“As a former English major, it was really nice to have the chance to write a longer piece again. I definitely enjoyed finishing the project, though.” he said. “I have a few ideas for some future writing projects, but I’m not going to start those for a while.”

The “Desire2Learn Higher Education Cookbook” is Ballentine’s first book. It is available through Packt Publishing ( and Amazon.

Pellissippi State offers daytime, evening GED test dates

The job market looks as if it’s picking up, and now is the time to earn your GED. Pellissippi State Community College is offering two opportunities this month—one during the day and one at night—to take the exam.

The first GED test takes place in the daytime on Saturday, June 15. The second is split between two evenings, June 27 and 28. Both tests are given at the Hardin Valley Campus.

“According to the statistics, there are more than a million working-age adults who have started but not finished the current GED test,” said Joan Newman, director of Academic Education and Adult Education. “These adults need to complete the test as soon as possible. It will open doors to college, training and better jobs.”

The June 15 test is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The June 27-28 test is 5-9:30 p.m. Cost is $65. Test takers need to register with Pellissippi State 48 hours in advance, to be age 17 or over, and to have completed an official GED practice test.

The GED test covers writing, reading, science, social studies and math. The five parts may be taken separately, but all must be passed to receive the corresponding credential.

In 2014, the GED test will change from its current format to one given entirely on a computer. The revised exam will reflect new Common Core state standards and will require higher-level math proficiency and generally be more rigorous. It also will be more expensive.

Anyone who has not completed the GED before Jan. 1, 2014, will have to start over with the new format.

“We are trying to encourage people to go ahead and take it, or finish taking it, this year,” Newman said.

Even if adults have been out of school for years, they shouldn’t fear taking the GED, she says.

“Approximately 70 percent of adults who take the GED pass,” Newman said. “Unfortunately, only about 1.5 percent of all adults who did not graduate from high school even attempt it. The odds really are in your favor, especially when you’re prepared.”

Newman said Adult Education at Pellissippi State offers several hours of instruction to students planning to take the GED. The college also provides free practice tests that often are reliable predictors of actual GED scores.

“We encourage you to study with us and, through that, build your skills, boost your confidence, and help yourself reach your goals.”

To find out more or to sign up, call Adult Education at (865) 539-7109 or the Testing Center at (865) 694-6454. To learn more about Pellissippi State programs, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Carter High School to host ‘Registration Days’ for Pellissippi State

Pellissippi State Community College is reaching out to community members in East Knox County through its newly opened Strawberry Plains Campus and will host summer registration days for prospective college students at Carter High School.

“‘Registration Days’ at Carter High School will be an opportunity for anyone interested in registering for fall 2013 classes at Pellissippi State to apply, work with a Financial Aid representative and register for classes,” said Mike North, Strawberry Plains campus dean.

“Anyone interested in enrollment at Pellissippi State can come to one of the two registration days we will offer at Carter High School—you don’t have to be a Carter graduate. Interested high school graduates, adult learners or transfer students from other institutions can come on July 10 or 24 to get help with applying to Pellissippi State, financial aid, placement testing, or registration.”

Registration Days takes place 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, and Wednesday, July 24. Pellissippi State staff from the Admissions, Financial Aid and Advising offices will be on hand to assist prospective students. Students can even take a placement test on site.

This is the first time a Pellissippi State registration event has been staged at a community high school.

“This is a new initiative for the college,” said North. “The Strawberry Plains Campus will close for several renovation projects and will not be able to provide enrollment services until it reopens later this summer.

“Carter High School is close to Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, and people in and around the community are familiar with the location.”

No reservation or registration is required. Interested students may walk in at any time July 10 or 24 and find assistance.

For more information, call the Strawberry Plains Campus at (865) 225-2300 or the Hardin Valley Campus at (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State student garners job-search tips, confidence at disability conference

Students with disabilities may face extra challenges when they enter college and later the workforce, but through a partnership with Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, a Pellissippi State Community College student is gaining the confidence and skills to take on whatever challenges come his way.

Darrell Bowles, a Pellissippi State student who is legally blind, attended the COSD-sponsored FULL ACCESS Student Summit in Raleigh/Durham, N.C., in April. The two-day event provided 60 students from around the Southeast with techniques and resources for networking and self-advocacy, plus methods to become better prepared for today’s competitive job-search process.

“They give you advice on how to be better prepared for interviews, how to make yourself presentable, what questions you can ask your potential employer,” said Bowles. “It’s information most people would pretty much kill to have for their first interview. It gives us insight into the minds of employers.”

Bowles will be able to apply what he learned at the Summit once he graduates and begins his career search. He just wishes he’d had those tools when he applied for his first job at the Apple Store a few years ago.

“I was up against a lot of people with retail experience,” he said, “and what little confidence I had was taken away from me.

“My first thought when I was passed over was, ‘Oh, they did it because of my disability.’ My second thought was, ‘Oh, they did it because I didn’t have any sales experience,’ which was true. But then, after the Summit and learning everything I learned, I realized I didn’t portray confidence.

“You have to sell yourself. You don’t want to make yourself sound like something you’re not, but you want to make yourself sound like something you are. I failed to do that.”

Students who attended the Summit had the opportunity to network with some big-name employers, among them, AT&T, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Ernst & Young and Northrop Grumman. The event took place at Research Triangle Park.

Bowles applied for a spot at FULL ACCESS and learned he was going back in March. He was one of only a few students from Tennessee to be accepted and was able to attend through use of the University of Tennessee’s Disability Careers Office van.

Bowles is working toward an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science and Information Technology with a concentration in Networking and Communications Systems. He already has a general Associate of Science degree from Pellissippi State. After graduating in CSIT, he plans to seek employment in his field … taking full advantage of his arsenal of newfound job skills and confidence builders.

Pellissippi State schedules New Student Orientation sessions for fall semester

Those who have been accepted to attend Pellissippi State Community College for fall semester should make plans now to attend a New Student Orientation session. The sessions are required of all first-time degree-seeking freshmen and are recommended for transfer students.

The sessions give new enrollees the opportunity to meet with Pellissippi State students, faculty, and staff; learn about what they can expect in college and what the college expects of them; learn strategies for college success; explore degree, major, and transfer options; and discover campus services and resources such as financial aid, tutoring, and computer resources.

Pellissippi State encourages parents, spouses and others supportive of the student to attend as well.

Accepted students are urged to reserve their place as soon as possible. Sessions are available June 11-Aug. 23 at various times at all five Pellissippi State campuses.

The application deadline for fall semester is Aug. 14. Classes begin on Aug. 24.

To sign up for New Student Orientation, visit or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact Disability Services at  or (865) 539-7153.

Pellissippi State recognized as ‘Green Achiever’ for sustainability work Green Achiever award logoPellissippi State Community College was recognized as a Knoxville leader in sustainability initiatives at a GoGreenET event May 14.

Attended by L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president, and Karen Lively, the college’s new sustainable campus coordinator, the event included recognition of the school as a “Green Achiever,” a program dedicated to recognizing East Tennessee businesses for sustainability initiatives.

“Pellissippi State is proud to join the ranks of other East Tennessee Green Achievers,” said Wise, “and we look forward to continuing to be a leader in environmentally responsible initiatives and programs that reduce our carbon footprint and benefit our students, faculty, and staff.”

“It was wonderful to see how many businesses and organizations in the area are adopting greener practices,” Lively said.

To be recognized as a Green Achiever, Pellissippi State completed a survey outlining more than 100 ways an organization could encourage green business practices. Green Achievers must have accomplished at least one item in each category and have scored at least 30 points.

“It’s very exciting that Pellissippi State met most of the criteria in the recycling, energy and water conservation, and waste reduction categories,” said Lively. “We’ve already implemented some effective sustainability measures and will be incorporating even more in the future, such as providing reusable bags and water bottles to students at New Student Orientation and constructing a solar pavilion.”

Pellissippi State has launched a number of green programs through its Sustainable Campus Initiative in recent years. The college employs recycling, water refilling stations, purchase of “green block” renewable energy, automatic light switches and faucets, hybrid vehicles for staff and faculty use, electric charging stations for alternative fuel vehicles, and replacement of traditional lighting with low-energy LED in the Clayton Performing Arts Center.

Pellissippi State students even voted to enact a sustainable campus fee of $10 per student for each semester. The funds go toward initiatives to make the college a healthier, more environmentally friendly space.

One recent initiative embraced by students and the full-service Cafeteria on the Hardin Valley Campus is Meatless Monday, an international movement aimed at reducing meat consumption by encouraging everyone to avoid meat one day of the week. is an online resource hosted by the Greater Knoxville Business Journal. The site provides information to guide East Tennessee businesses and organizations toward improved environmental responsibility and energy efficiency.

For additional information on the college’s sustainability efforts, call at (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN