Pellissippi State: Alumni Relations hosts free presentation on using technology to boost a career

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Pellissippi State Community College invites alumni and community members to attend a brown-bag lunch and presentation by Dan Thompson at noon Thursday, Aug. 13.

Thompson, a senior analyst for 451 Research who often serves as a technology expert for local and regional television stations, will speak on the topic “Technology and How It Can Advance Your Career.”

The free event is in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Attendees should bring their own lunch.

Reservations are required since seating is limited. RSVP by Aug. 6 to Angela Pugh, development coordinator for Pellissippi State’s Alumni Relations Office, at or (865) 539-7275.

To learn more about Alumni Relations and the benefits it offers to alumni, visit For more about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Trevis Gardner named Pellissippi State’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Trevis Gardner

For Trevis Gardner, Pellissippi State Community College’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winner, success is all about building relationships.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community, and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation. The 1991 graduate was presented the award at a recent Alumni Association luncheon at the college.

Gardner is vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. He oversees nearly every tangible aspect of the airport experience — from parking to buying a ticket to getting on a plane and leaving and coming back to Knoxville — not only at McGhee Tyson Airport but also at Downtown Island Airport.

The MKAA is responsible for creating the business environment that allows the hundreds of airport vendors to engage with customers. Every layer of service between the MKAA and the passengers falls under Gardner’s purview.

But the technical responsibilities aren’t what Gardner talks about — it’s the relationships.

“I manage people from entry-level positions to folks who are much smarter than I am,” he said. “I get to have a lot of different relationships with people. I feel like I’m in the Tower of London making sure the crown jewels are safe. The organization trusts me to make sure I take care of these people.”

Gardner earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology from what was then Pellissippi State Technical Community College and later earned a surveying certificate. He served in the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard from 1987 to 2011, and he has worked for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority since 1991.

According to Gardner, his grades weren’t exactly those of a model student when he initially enrolled at Pellissippi State.

“I should not have gone to community college, should not have gone to university, should not have graduated, by all statistical measures,” Gardner said.

But after he came to Pellissippi State on the GI Bill, his mindset changed.

“I loved learning at Pellissippi State,” he said. “I felt like I was home. My time at Pellissippi State was some of the most fun I ever had.”

Besides working for the airport authority, Gardner is also very active in the community, particularly in his native Blount County. He has served on the Blount County Board of Education and the board of the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County. He has worked as a tutor for the GED Preparation Program at the Blount County Justice Center, as well as with many other organizations and causes.

“This year, there were three candidates for this award,” said Peggy Wilson, vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation. “A committee of Foundation board members reviewed the nominations and felt Trevis was the best candidate. We congratulate him!”

To learn about the benefits of being part of the Pellissippi State Alumni Association, visit or call (865) 539-7275.

Pellissippi State ‘2+2’ alumnus named ‘Teacher of the Year’

Charlie ArpCharles Arp, a Pellissippi State Community College alumnus, has been named “Teacher of the Year” for Sweetwater City Schools in Monroe County. He teaches fifth grade at Brown Intermediate School.

Arp graduated through a teacher education partnership between Pellissippi State and Tennessee Technological University in 2012. Graduates from what is called the “2+2” program earn an Associate of Science in Teaching degree from Pellissippi State, then a Bachelor of Science degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and K-6 Teacher Licensure from Tennessee Tech.

Students in 2+2 attend the first two years as Pellissippi State students and the last two years as Tennessee Tech students—but they take all of their classes at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. A.S.T. is a cohort program, meaning the students go through the entire sequence together.

“Charlie was one of those students that you don’t forget,” said Barbara Jenkins, program coordinator of the A.S.T. program. “He knew what he wanted to do—to teach and make a difference with children in the elementary classroom—and he pursued his goal without hesitation.”

Arp says he was surprised and pleased to receive the Teacher of the Year recognition after teaching only three years. The honor is awarded through Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative.

In April, he also earned Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ 2015 Extreme Classroom Makeover. The award comes with a $25,000 grand prize that funds new technology in the classroom.

Arp credits his success to Pellissippi State and Tennessee Tech and the partnership 2+2 program.

“Pellissippi State prepared me for nearly every aspect of teaching,” he said. “My students have had some of the highest possible science TCAP [Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program] scores in the state. I would say 75 percent of my teaching toolkit is from things I learned at Pellissippi State.

“The 2+2 program even helped prepare me for the interview for this job [at Brown Intermediate]. The only mistake I made was that I didn’t start the 2+2 program straight out of high school.”

Arp employs a number of distinctive techniques to teach his students, including using the Minecraft video game as a way of teaching mathematics and keeping children moving during math lessons by making use of a class-sized coordinate plane. When teaching reading and English lessons, Arp uses movie trailers based on novels to get his students interested in literature.

For more information about the A.S.T., 2+2 and other programs offered by or in partnership with Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Alumna recalls support, inspiration as first-generation student at Pellissippi State

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female standing in front of brickVirginia Hughes remembers entering class and realizing she could not leave as the person she had been before.

That is one of the many memories of the Pellissippi State Community College alumna, who graduated with a general associate’s degree in 2013. Hughes is working toward an anthropology degree at the University of Tennessee, with plans to graduate in 2015.

“My experience entering Pellissippi was like most college students in many ways,” Hughes said. “I remember being excited, scared, and nervous all at the same time—college is scary and exciting, especially as a first-generation student.”

“I can still recall sitting in Dr. Kelly Rivers’ English class and Dr. Chris Milne’s biology classes and thinking that there was no way I would come out of those classes the same person, and I didn’t: I came out a better person who realized my potential. I felt like I could conquer anything that was thrown at me, because those professors prepared me. Pellissippi was and still is my open door to my future.”

As a first-generation college student, Hughes says she always felt that every one of her college achievements was celebrated, not just by her but by her whole family. While the pressure to succeed weighed on her, she was always aware that college could open the world to her.

Hughes, who attended Pellissippi State as a tnAchieves student, now volunteers as an ambassador for the program. TnAchieves increases higher education opportunities for Tennessee high school students by providing last-dollar scholarships with mentor guidance. Hughes also volunteers at the Forensic Anthropology Center on UT’s campus and holds down a part-time job.

“TnAchieves gave me a unique college experience, because along with all the programs Pellissippi State has to help its students succeed, I also had a team of tnAchieves people that I could turn to.

“My mentor through tnAchieves gave me the opportunity to share everything about my experience with her, and she helped me celebrate the good things and work on the challenges that I faced.”

Hughes plans to pursue a career in forensic anthropology, helping identify human remains after catastrophic events.

“I want to work on the teams that help bring peace and restore faces to those people who have become victims to circumstances beyond their control,” she said.

She credits Pellissippi State for starting her on the path to success.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience,” said Hughes. “Pellissippi State gave me the skills I needed to keep reaching for my goals. I truly believe that had I not gone to Pellissippi State and received my associate’s degree, then I never would have made it to the point I am at now.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

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