Category Archives: Faculty/Staff

Pellissippi State professor gives input to improve math understanding in Tennessee

Dave Vinson has taught college students at Pellissippi State Community College math for the past 21 years. Now the associate professor is taking on an educational challenge aimed at a younger population.

Vinson has agreed to serve as Tennessee’s lead math curriculum writer for a project that could potentially change the way high school math is taught and learned. The Tennessee Board of Regents, the college’s governing body, contacted Vinson when the Tennessee Higher Education Commission sought TBR’s input on someone to work on the project.

The project is being done for the Southern Regional Education Board. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with member states to improve public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and higher education.

SREB is targeting high school seniors, after tests revealed that many haven’t comprehended previously taught math skills. Vinson is leading the team on restructuring the curriculum.

“The format is a modified version of what are called ‘active learning strategies,’” Vinson said. “In a pure active learning format, there are no lectures. The teacher moderates, but the goal is to get the students in a small group using the math skills they’re supposed to already know. The lessons, as designed, cannot be completed without an understanding of these forgotten skills. This is especially good for students who don’t learn well by sitting and listening.”

The hope is that having actively participated in the learning and recall process in high school, students will better understand the math they were taught early on. If so, they will be better prepared for college math, and some will be able to avoid developmental prerequisites.

Once the SREB curriculum is complete, it will become public domain. If state legislators ultimately decide to embrace the material, Vinson believes it will have a direct impact on future college freshmen.

The project is part of a larger push by SREB to develop math and English curricula that will help students who graduate from high school be better prepared to succeed in first-year college courses. The undertaking is grounded in Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 45 states. Those standards dictate the skills that students should have mastered at each grade level.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare students for college and the workforce.

For more information on Vinson’s role in the project, call (865) 694-6400. To learn more about Pellissippi State in general, call 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State hosts Backstage Pass event to launch arts series

For more than 35 years, Pellissippi State Community College has welcomed the community to take part in the institution’s many cultural activities. Beginning this fall, Pellissippi State launches The Arts at Pellissippi State, an arts series that offers more opportunities than ever to enjoy everything from music and theatre to cultural celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

The series showcases the talents of Pellissippi State students and faculty, as well as those of special guest performers. To set the new series in motion, the college is hosting Backstage Pass, an evening that will showcase a sampling of the arts-related events slated for the upcoming season.

Backstage Pass offers attendees not only a behind-the-scenes look at future arts activities but also a live auction and cocktail buffet. The setting is Knoxville’s Cherokee Country Club. Proceeds from the special event will be used by the Pellissippi State Foundation to support The Arts at Pellissippi State.

“Backstage Pass” takes place on Friday, Sept. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. Cherokee Country Club is located at 5138 Lyons View Pike.

Individuals interested in attending are encouraged to order tickets early. Tickets are $100 per person. Sponsorships also are available.

For additional information on Backstage Pass, call the Pellissippi State Foundation at (865) 539-7351.

Pellissippi State appoints new vice president of Academic Affairs

Pellissippi State Community College has named Ted Lewis, a college administrator from Texas, to be the new vice president of Academic Affairs.

The appointment comes after a nationwide search that resulted in more than 40 applicants for the position. Lewis begins on July 2, when he will be welcomed by faculty, staff and students of the five campuses: Blount County, Division Street, Hardin Valley, Magnolia Avenue and, starting fall semester, Strawberry Plains.

“I am duly impressed by Lewis’ commitment to student success, his creativity and energy, and his interest in our work at the college and in the community,” said Anthony Wise, president of Pellissippi State.

Lewis served most recently as the dean of instruction at Lone Star College–CyFair in Cypress, Texas. Located outside Houston, Lone Star College–CyFair is part of the Lone Star College System, which includes six colleges serving more than 75,000 credit-seeking students.

During his nine years as the dean of instruction, Lewis oversaw the administration of the institution’s science and public services division. He also brought together a unique collaboration with local emergency services agencies in order to train first responders. Lone Star College–CyFair and local agencies teamed to train more than 500 first responders, establish a special fire academy and provide a free Community Emergency Response Team academy made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to his tenure at Lone Star College–CyFair, Lewis spent 12 years with Collin County Community College. Located north of Dallas, the educational institution is a seven-campus college serving more than 27,000 credit-seeking students. Lewis served as a professor, chair of the political science department and director of the school’s award-winning learning communities program.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master of Science in political science from the University of North Texas and a Doctor of Education in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lewis spent many years in Texas and was very involved in the Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) community. He served on the Cypress-Fairbanks Educational Foundation Board, was an active member of the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce and was president of the Cy-Fair Rotary Club.

Lewis has been an advisory board member for numerous organizations, including the Safety Management Program of the University of Houston–Downtown and the Prepare America Network. The network supports the Office of Domestic Preparedness and the Department of Homeland Security in delivering education, training, and credentialing for security and emergency preparedness.

He has received numerous awards, among them, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (2002), Lone Star College–CyFair’s Administrative Excellence Award (2005, 2009), the Chair Academy’s International Exemplary Leadership Award (2007) and the Lone Star College System’s Writing Award (2007, 2010).

For additional information about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State educator honored with state teaching award

Nancy Pevey, associate professor of Mathematics at Pellissippi State, is the recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award, presented by the Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.

Nancy Pevey still uses a document camera in her classroom. She admits to telling some “pretty corny” math jokes. She makes errors while working sample math problems for her students—usually on purpose.

Pevey, an associate professor of Mathematics at Pellissippi State Community College, has a stockpile of low-tech tricks stashed up her sleeve, all of them used to make math easier for her students to learn. Those techniques are some of the reasons she recently was recognized with a statewide education honor: the Teaching Excellence Award, presented by the Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.

Pevey, originally from Starkville, Miss., has been teaching math full time at Pellissippi State since 2000. She also has taught middle- and high-schoolers, and she was a teacher at Bearden and Northwest junior high schools before the Knoxville–Knox County system consolidated.

For the veteran faculty member, making math easier for her students to learn is all about interaction. That’s why Pevey chooses to work math problems by hand on the document camera, a modernized overhead projector. Though she certainly has access to newer tools such as PowerPoint presentations, she believes they just can’t replace the give-and-take of talking through a math solution with her students.

“Writing out the math problems on the document camera makes it fresh every time,” said Pevey. “I like to do more than just hit the ‘go’ button. If I happen to think of a better example that addresses a student’s question, I can write it out as soon as I think of it.

“I’d call my classes ‘interactive lectures.’ Students solve the math problems as we talk together about what’s going on.”

But why introduce mistakes?

“I make them to help show the students how they might have easily gotten a wrong answer,” Pevey said. “Of course, every so often I make a mistake by mistake. We can all learn from that, too.”

Telling math jokes, she says, is a tool she uses to help her students more readily remember math formulas and rules.

“A corny joke or story gives students a memory hook,” said Pevey. “Math concepts are easier to remember with a story.”

The TMATYC Teaching Excellence Award is bestowed every two years. This year’s TMATYC conference took place in Chattanooga, with 24 faculty attending from Pellissippi State.

For additional information about the college, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State’s Hospitality coordinator receives international leadership award

Tom Gaddis, who coordinates Hospitality at Pellissippi State, was recently bestowed the Idahlynn Karre International Exemplary Leadership Award.

Tom Gaddis, who coordinates the Hospitality concentration at Pellissippi State Community College, has been named a 2012 recipient of the Idahlynn Karre International Exemplary Leadership Award.

The award, presented by the Chair Academy, recognizes leaders in post-secondary institutions worldwide who have modeled “best practices” in advancing academic and administrative leadership development.

Gaddis, who has served in his current role at Pellissippi State since 1997, is highly regarded within the hospitality industry. He was recognized in 2003 and 2008 as the Hospitality Educator of the Year by the Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Association as part of their Stars of the Industry award program.

Also a professor at the college, Gaddis has been instrumental in the development and implementation of Pellissippi State’s concentration in Culinary Arts. Like Hospitality, Culinary Arts culminates in an Associate of Applied Science in the Business Administration degree program.

The Culinary Arts concentration was first offered at Pellissippi State in 2010 and represents a collaboration with the Culinary Institute at the University of Tennessee. Students enrolled in the culinary classes learn hands-on skills in a state-of-the-art laboratory/kitchen at UT’s Culinary Institute on Neyland Drive. They take classroom courses at Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus, two miles away.

Gaddis joins educational professionals from around the world as a recipient of the Chair Academy’s Idahlynn Karre International Exemplary Leadership Award. The Chair Academy, founded in 1992, offers leadership development for college and university leaders. This year’s award recipients were honored during the organization’s 21st Annual International Conference, which took place in March in Atlanta.

For more information about the Hospitality and Culinary Arts concentrations at Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Registration is currently under way for the fall semester. Classes begin August 25.

Pellissippi State names head of Division Street Campus

Esther Dyer has been chosen to be the new assistant dean of the Division Street Campus of Pellissippi State Community College.

“She brings experience to the position in both education and business,” said Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise. “We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber to lead the Division Street Campus.”

Dyer was most recently the associate dean of Knoxville’s ITT Technical Institute. A native of Morgan County, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee and a master’s in organization development from Central Washington University.

Her experience as an educator includes teaching at virtually every academic level, elementary through college, as well as managing day-to-day operations in a postsecondary school setting. From the business perspective, she has significant experience in process improvement facilitation, conflict resolution, management coaching, strategic planning and team skills training.

Dyer says she looks forward to working with the employees of the Division Street Campus.

“I find the faculty and staff at Division Street to be family- and team-oriented and, specifically, focused on caring for and supporting the students in their various endeavors,” she said. “I want to be an integral part of maintaining that learning atmosphere and contributing to the ongoing growth at the campus.”

The Division Street Campus was home to 1,700 students fall 2011 semester. Pellissippi State also has four other campuses: Hardin Valley, Blount County, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains.

Learn more about Pellissippi State by visiting www.pstcc.edu or calling (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State honors employees and retirees

Tyra Barrett - Excellence in Teaching Award

Pellissippi State Community College recently hosted its annual recognition of employees for outstanding service, longevity and retirement.

At this year’s ceremony, the Excellence in Teaching Award went to Tyra Barrett, an associate professor in the Business and Computer Technology Department and the program coordinator for Business Administration. The award recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they’ve had on students.

Barrett, who first came to Pellissippi State in 1988 as an adjunct faculty member in Economics and has served as an associate professor since 1994, was recognized by the college in 2006 with the Outstanding Full-time Faculty Award. She was also the 2007 recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Award for outstanding contributions to teaching, leadership and learning.

Anita Maddox and Donn King - Innovations Award

The Innovations Award was bestowed upon Donn King and Anita Maddox. This award is given in recognition of a project that demonstrates success of creative and original instructional and learning support activities.

King and Maddox each serves as an associate professor of Speech in the Liberal Arts Department. Maddox is also the program coordinator for Speech. King was the 1999 recipient of Pellissippi State’s Excellence in Teaching Award, as well as the 2000 recipient of NISOD’s Excellence Award.

The two collaborated on “Flipping the Speech Class,” in which students enrolled in selected sections of SPCH 2100 were able to access classroom lectures via audio podcasts rather than only attending traditional lectures during class time. The strategy of “flipping” how the students spent their instructional time gave them the opportunity to use classroom hours for engaging in group work, delivering speeches and receiving feedback from fellow students and professors.

Martha Merrill and Regina Buckley - Gene Joyce Visionary Award

Regina Buckley and Martha Merrill were honored at the ceremony with the Gene Joyce Visionary Award, which recognizes external outreach projects that have an impact on the community. Buckley serves as an associate professor in the Business and Computer Technology Department and as the program coordinator of Administrative Professional Technology. Merrill is a professor in and the program coordinator of Web Technology in the Engineering and Media Technologies Department.

Buckley and Merrill served as co-instructors of a class that incorporated “service-learning” in the curriculum. Service-learning provides an opportunity through the curriculum for students to volunteer in the community.

Pellissippi State students who enrolled in ADMN 2450 Communications Media worked with a local nonprofit organization, Therapeutic Riding Academy of Knoxville, to increase community awareness of, involvement in and support for the organization.

Thanks to the efforts of Buckley and Merrill, Pellissippi State students enrolling in a summer Web design course and a fall advertising course also will incorporate real-world service-learning for the riding academy in their studies.

The Excellence in Teaching, Innovations and Gene Joyce Visionary awards carried with them monetary recognition ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. Funding for all awards was provided by the Pellissippi State Foundation. Recipients of the three awards also received a plaque and a medallion.

Pellissippi State also recognized employees who had reached five-year increments of employment, as well as council presidents and retiring employees. Retirees received a clock in recognition of their service. Retirees included Bill Chapman, Luanne Dagley, Cathalin Folks, Sydney Gingrow, Milton Grimes, Hudson Jeter, Phyllis Pace, Terry Sisk, Anne Swartzlander and Greg Walters.

Part of this year’s ceremony was set aside to honor two Pellissippi State employees, Brenda Ammons and Mike Hudson. Ammons, associate professor of Math, was recognized for her 20 years of work with the Faculty Senate Book Sale. Since its inception three decades ago, the event has raised more than $101,000.

Event proceeds go to the Pellissippi State Foundation, which supports students by providing scholarships, new technology and equipment. Funds from the book sale are earmarked for the Faculty Senate Scholarship. The scholarship provides tuition and fees for full-time students who maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA and meet additional scholarship criteria.

Mike Hudson, who passed away in December 2011, served for many years as the college’s director of Certificate Programs. At the time of his death, he was director of special projects.

Hudson was the 2011 recipient of the college’s Innovations Award. As one of the employee award winners, he was to be recognized with a certificate and a medallion at the 2012 NISOD conference in Texas later this month. The certificate and medallion were given instead at the Pellissippi State awards ceremony. L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of the college, presented the special recognition to Hudson’s family at the event.

Additional award recipients—each of whom received $100, a plaque and a medallion—included the following: Outstanding Adjunct Faculty, Jack Heck; Outstanding Administrator, Spencer Joy; Outstanding Contract Worker, Chris Niesen; Outstanding Support Professional, Ann Burgess; Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance Employee, Travis Whitson; and Outstanding Full-time Faculty, Bill Brewer.

Jack Heck - Outstanding Adjunct Faculty
Spencer Joy - Outstanding Administrator
Chris Niesen - Outstanding Contract Worker
Ann Burgess - Outstanding Support Professional
Travis Whitson - Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance Employee
Bill Brewer - Outstanding Full-time Faculty

As this year’s winner of the Outstanding Full-time Faculty Award, Brewer will carry the college’s mace at the 37th Annual Commencement Ceremony on May 4. The event takes place at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena, beginning at 7 p.m.

For additional information about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State Foundation receives civil rights-themed art donation

When Herb Rieth traveled the highways of Mississippi in 2005, he was doing so as an art teacher and as a son. Rieth was at that time serving as an art instructor in Starkville, and he frequently made the 150-mile drive to Coldwater in order to visit his mother and stepfather.

Seven years later, Reith, now an art instructor at Pellissippi State Community College, has donated a mixed-media fabric piece to the school through the Pellissippi State Foundation that was inspired by those drives.

“Savage from the Outside: An Ode to Mose Wright” is 110 inches by 119 inches.  It was created by Rieth to pay homage both to Mose Wright, the great-uncle of Emmett Till, and to the struggles for civil rights that took place in communities across Mississippi.

The August 1955 death of the 14-year-old Till and the murder trial that followed one month later served as catalysts for the emerging Civil Rights Movement.

A famous photograph of Wright testifying during the trial in Sumner—taken by photographer Ernest Withers despite a judge’s orders prohibiting photographs—shows Till’s great-uncle pointing as he identifies a defendant in court. Wright’s testimony was believed to be the first instance of a black person’s testifying against a white defendant in a Mississippi courtroom.

Rieth’s art combines history and his own firsthand impressions of the Mississippi landscape. During his visits to Coldwater, he encountered the nearby community of Savage. Rieth knew the history of the Till events, yet he was struck by the geography of the Mississippi Delta region and the area’s role as the setting for strife and, eventually, monumental change.

“Savage is just a bump in the road,” said Rieth. “That area’s flatness is only broken by running tufts of large live oaks and cottonwood trees that serve as windbreaks.

“The roads border decaying towns that lay like broken shells of a great postwar American culture. The sharp contrast in geography that I saw while driving brought home the rupture in culture that riveted the country during that hot summer 50 years before. That was the inspiration for ‘Savage from the Outside.’”

Rieth decided to donate the piece to the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the college, and it is now displayed in the McWherter Building on the Hardin Valley Campus. Students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy the art as both a beautiful addition to the facility and as an ode to the personal stories that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

This is not the first time the Foundation has received an art donation. Ed Harmon, a Blount County native and art collector, gave the school 20 paintings and prints. The pieces represent the works of local artists who focus on the landscapes of the Appalachian region.

An anonymous donor also gifted five pieces of art for the Library at the Blount County Campus. Donations to the college are coordinated by the Foundation, which works to support programs that directly impact students.

“Part of our mission is to provide opportunities for life, civic and cultural enrichment,” said Peggy Wilson. “We appreciate Herb Rieth’s willingness to share his beautiful and meaningful art with the entire community, and the Foundation would certainly encourage others to contact us regarding such gifts.” Wilson is executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, as well as vice president of College Advancement.

To discuss the possibility of making a donation, call the Foundation at (865) 694-6528 or email foundation@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State instructor helps students overcome fear of public speaking

When it came time to present her speech, Meaghan Marsh sang.

The Pellissippi State Community College student belted out the first line of “O Canada,” the national anthem of Canada, and that was enough to get her started.

In Larry Dearing’s public speaking class on Wednesday night at the college’s Blount County Campus, the speeches ran the gamut: travel, addiction, work, disease, health-care precautions, the dangers of texting while driving. Like Marsh’s humorous musical opener, the other students’ props and approaches were unique and creative.

Dearing, who has taught public speaking at Pellissippi State for more than a decade, sat in the back of the room listening, making notes. During the day, the adjunct faculty member works full time off campus, and four nights a week, he teaches public speaking for Pellissippi State.

That schedule can make for a long day, but when Dearing sets foot in the classroom, he gets a second wind.

“When I get in class, I’m energized. All that tiredness goes away,” he said. “The day job is work—the night job is not.”

One of the reasons Dearing likes teaching in the evening, he says, is the mix of students: Students returning to college to finish a degree after several years’ hiatus from the classroom. Younger students and adults who juggle jobs, family and school. Career changers who work at jobs in which they see little hope for advancement or growth.

Returning to school after a hiatus can be a struggle. And public speaking can be especially daunting. That was something Dearing and the class addressed early in the semester.

“When we first started, we each talked about how this class was going to be for us, or how hard it was going to be for each one of us, because a lot of people have a problem with public speaking,” said Marsh, a Pellissippi State freshman and 2010 Alcoa High School graduate who wants to teach art.

Dearing has had students step in front of the class for the first speech and grow so nervous that they shake and turn red. Sometimes they apologize for the way they sound. He remembers his first public speaking class at the University of Tennessee, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in theater and speech.

“I see me up there the first time and recall how hard it was for me,” he said.

Dearing started teaching public speaking initially in 1978, in the evenings at the Division Street Campus. He taught part time for three years and then embarked on a career in business. Twenty years later, he was still thinking about the classroom.

Ten years ago, Dearing started again in the place he originally taught: Division Street. He returned as an adjunct faculty member, and it all seemed as familiar as his first teaching experience at Pellissippi State.

“You know, Thomas Wolfe was wrong,” said Dearing. “You can go home again.”

With the semester nearly halfway over, his students seemed to have overcome many of their initial fears and appeared relaxed on Wednesday night. Marsh opened with the song and made the transition into her speech about work. She is not shy, but beginning with the song helped her get over the first hurdle.

“Yes, it was kind of like breaking the ice,” said Marsh. “Also, [Mr. Dearing] tells us that we need to have an introduction that draws people in, so I always try to start with something that makes people pay attention.”

Pellissippi State writer-in-residence to read poems from new book

Ed Francisco
Ed Francisco

In his ninth book of poetry, Ed Francisco’s search for the perfect words and expressions to illustrate his thoughts and experiences takes him through America, England, Finland and beyond.

Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence at Pellissippi State Community College, reads from his newest poetry volume, “Only the Word Gives Us Being,” at two venues the week of Feb. 13.

The first reading is on the 13th at 11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The second is on Feb. 18, 2-3 p.m., at Union Ave Books, 517 Union Ave. in downtown Knoxville.

The book was released in December by Birch Brook Press. It is available to purchase at www.birchbrookpress.info, the Pellissippi State Bookstore and Union Ave Books.

Francisco’s essays, poems and short fiction have been published in more than 100 magazines and journals. He most highly acclaimed books of poetry are “The Alchemy of Words” and “Death, Child, and Love: Poems 1980-2000.” His novels include “Till Shadows Flee” and “The Dealmaker.”

He is also principal editor of “The South in Perspective,” an anthology of Southern literature that has been adopted by colleges and universities across the country. He is a member of the Oxford Roundtable at the University of Oxford, England.

The public is invited to attend both of the free readings. For additional information, contact (865) 694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability at the Pellissippi State event, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.