Pellissippi State: New Service-Learning program pairs in-class work with community outreach

Gladys Nance headshotOpt for service-learning at Pellissippi State Community College and the world can become your classroom.

Case in point: Ijams River Rescue on Saturday, March 31.

Pellissippi State students are taking part in Ijams Nature Center’s annual cleanup of the Tennessee River through the college’s new Service-Learning program and its service-learning student club, Gnosis. Service-learning pairs community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Beyond Ijams, Pellissippi State’s program has created partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank in Maryville, Beardsley Community Farm, Maynard Elementary School and a growing list of other schools and nonprofit organizations.

“This spring, students from several Pellissippi classes are incorporating their class work with meaningful service to these community partners,” said Annie Gray, associate professor of English, Service-Learning program co-facilitator and co-advisor for the student club Gnosis.

Gray’s freshman composition students, for example, are establishing the bluebird trails at Ijams in conjunction with writing a paper on nature. Those working on a unit on education are tutoring children at Maynard Elementary School. Some of the college’s students are learning about wealth and poverty as they help build houses through Loudon County Habitat for Humanity.

Classes taught by H.L. Ford, associate professor of English, and Tara Lynn, assistant professor of English and Service-Learning program co-facilitator, also are participating in the program.

Gladys Nance, one of Gray’s English composition students, has incorporated her service-learning experience this semester into writing assignments. Until recently, she was an Army medic in Afghanistan. As a student, Nance chose to provide medical assistance to homeless people through Lost Sheep Ministries:

“Service-learning has shown me the true values of life…. It is important for all of us to play our part right in order to make a difference and ensure that no one goes without the necessary things to survive.

“This service has drastically changed my views on judging those individuals that are unable to provide for themselves. There is always a reason why those individuals are in that predicament…. Everyone deserves a second chance at life.”

Interested in learning more or getting involved in Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program? Call Tara Lynn, (865) 539-7210, or Annie Gray, 694-6492, or email

Here are some of the upcoming events:

  • Call to Service (C2S), 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30. At C2S, local nonprofits come to campus to let students know about service opportunities. Service-Learning hosts C2S in the Courtyard of the Hardin Valley Campus.
  • Ijams River Rescue, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the 31st. Service-Learning students and Gnosis members clean up around the river at a site off Western Avenue. The area is accessible through the Beardsley Community Farm parking lot.
  • Highlander Research and Education Center, Friday, April 6. Service-Learning and Gnosis co-sponsor the multi-club field trip to New Market. Students will learn about Highlander’s impact on the labor movement, Civil Rights era and, more recently, immigration.