Pellissippi State Community College honored innovation and dedication among its faculty and staff at a ceremony in April.
Judith Sichler, an assistant professor teaching anthropology, won the Excellence in Teaching Award.
Pellissippi State alumna and Sichler’s former student, Heather Woods, praised her in a nomination letter. Woods is currently a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee.
“I chose to take a human origins class at Pellissippi to fill an elective requirement … I enjoyed her [Sichler’s] teaching so much that first day that I immediately added myself to her prehistoric archaeology class,” said Woods.
Woods, a first-generation college student who returned to college as an adult, working mother, had a goal of becoming an English teacher. But she was so inspired by Sichler’s teaching that she eventually changed her major to anthropology.
“More than 20 years of dreaming and planning for an English degree ended up in second place to anthropology,” Woods said. “Dr. Sichler literally made such an impact in my education and life that I am following in her academic footsteps. Any college would be hard-pressed to find even one professor with her skills, heart and dedication.”
Annie Gray, English professor and Service-Learning coordinator, is the Gene Joyce Visionary Award winner for her creation and management of Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program, which combines community service and civic responsibility with traditional classroom learning. Last year, 2,677 student volunteers served more than 37,000 service hours in the community, for an estimated impact of around $887,759.
“People thrive when connected to causes bigger than themselves,” Gray said.
Gray has been recognized across the state and the nation for her work. The Tennessee Board of Regents, Pellissippi State’s governing body, has encouraged all its institutions to adopt Service-Learning programs because of her program’s success. Tennessee Campus Compact recognized Gray with the Tennessee Treasure Award in 2014, and the Service-Learning program was named a President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll winner in 2015.
This year is Gray’s last as Service-Learning coordinator. She is returning to the classroom, and a full-time director will manage the Service-Learning program. Gray donated the monetary portion of the Gene Joyce Visionary Award to the Pellissippi Pantry, a food pantry for students in need at Pellissippi State.
A team of faculty and staff representing each department in the college won the Innovations Award for their creation of a training program for faculty on best practices for using online teaching platforms. Online courses are becoming a more popular option for students. The training helps faculty learn to better use online platforms to create more meaningful experiences for students. All faculty members at Pellissippi State have completed at least level one of the training, which introduces faculty to Pellissippi State’s online learning platform, D2L — which is used in many classes, not just those that are online. The level two training is required for faculty members who teach any hybrid or online courses.
The Innovations Award team includes Brenda Ammons, Kristy Conger, Stephanie Gillespie, Angela Lunsford, Martha Merrill, Deanne Michaelson, Paul Ramp, Trish Roller, Allison Stein and Kellie Toon.
Pellissippi State Foundation board members select the recipients of the Excellence in Teaching, Innovation and Gene Joyce Visionary awards based on nominations. Recipients also receive a monetary award provided by the Foundation.
Additional college awards for employees recognize excellence among faculty and staff:
- Outstanding Contract Worker: Amy Satkowiak
- Outstanding Adjunct Faculty: Gabe Crowell
- Outstanding Full-time Faculty: Alex Fitzner
- Outstanding Administrator: Kathy Byrd
- Outstanding Support Professional: Aneshia Brown
- Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance: Scott Bell
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
For the second year in a row, Pellissippi State Community College was one of four finalists — out of 1,100 community colleges across the nation — for an American Association of Community Colleges Award of Excellence.
Pellissippi State was nominated for its corequisite remediation model, which places academically underprepared students in college-level courses while at the same time providing extra academic help during the course.
“Over the last two years, Pellissippi State has redesigned the delivery of remedial courses. We’ve implemented a new model that allows students to enroll in college-level courses but still receive the additional support they need to succeed,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.
Nationally, about 70 percent of college freshmen need remediation in at least one subject, and more than half need remediation in two subjects. In addition, almost 40 percent of the students who enroll in that remedial course never complete it, and only 25 percent go on to complete a college-level course in English or math.
Pellissippi State’s corequisite model, which was piloted in 2015 and has since been fully implemented, places students directly in college-level courses. Students needing remediation attend class one extra day a week for focused attention and support. Pellissippi State students who have completed the corequisite model have demonstrated extraordinary success.
“Corequisite remediation has dramatically improved students’ success. The success rates for remedial students enrolled in college-level courses of English was 47 percent. Mathematics was 53 percent, and college success was 61 percent,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs.
Additionally, the corequisite remediation model allows students to receive financial aid for their course work (many remedial courses weren’t covered by financial aid) and helps students stay on track to graduate quickly.
The Student Success Award of Excellence recognizes a community college that has demonstrated a sustained commitment to and proactive advancement of the cause of student success. Nominees are evaluated on increases in degree completion and transfer rates, as well as innovative programs that encourage retention, graduation and student success.
The winner of the Student Success Award, Wallace Community College-Dothan in Alabama, was announced at the AACC annual convention in New Orleans April 24.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
Maggie Pierce grew up in a household that valued education and encouraged her to earn good grades. But when she and her sisters earned college degrees, they were progressing down a path their parents had not trod.
That changes on May 5, when Maggie’s mother, Ruth Crippen, will cross the stage and earn her Business degree from Pellissippi State Community College.
“Neither of my parents had completed college,” Pierce said. “But they always expected our best when it came to education. We were encouraged to make straight A’s and study hard.”
That childhood emphasis seemed to have worked: Pierce and her two sisters have seven degrees among them. Pierce earned a Nursing degree from Pellissippi State in 2014, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in a career field she decided wasn’t for her after all. Today, she works at Parkwest Medical Center.
Two years ago, her mother, Crippen, went through a divorce and then a lay-off. After a time of unsuccessful job searching, she decided it was time to earn a degree herself.
“This started out as a way for me to get a decent job to provide for my family,” Crippen said. “But now it’s a way for me to say, ‘I did this.’ I tell people it’s my 39-year-path to a degree. I get emotional talking about it.”
Crippen enrolled in an accelerated cohort program at Pellissippi State — which condenses classes into five-week terms, allowing a part-time student to still complete an associate degree in two years.
“I have had to work so hard and take this one semester at a time. I never would have been able to get this done without my daughters’ help,” Crippen said.
“We all respect my mother and her decision to go back to school, so much,” Pierce said. “But she’ll tell you that she’s just doing what she expected us to do. Seeing her succeed is priceless to us.”
Pierce and her siblings will be in the audience, cheering, as Crippen crosses the stage at Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony, 7 p.m., May 5, in Thompson-Boling Arena.
“I had the opportunity to go to college as a young person,” Crippen said. “But I announced I was getting married at the ripe old age of 19. At that time, I didn’t realize it was a mistake. But my whole life, I’ve tried to instill in my kids that they did not want to be like their dad and me. The priority was for them to make good grades.
“I never applied myself when I was young. This has a been a long, hard road, but I’m so proud. I’m so proud that I’ve kept a full-time job and done this cohort, and that I will graduate with a 3.4 GPA.”
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or email@example.com.
Pellissippi State Community College will host a workshop at its Blount County Campus for high school students with disabilities interested in pursuing a college degree.
Students and their parents can attend the free workshop, 6-7 p.m., May 9, to learn information about making a seamless transition from high school to college. The workshop will be held in the West Chevrolet Auditorium, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The workshop will provide additional information about the requirements to receive accommodations in college for a disability and how to obtain required testing and paperwork.
The workshop is sponsored by the Universal Pathways to Employment Project, or UPEP, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. UPEP’s goal is to expand Pellissippi State’s capacity to deliver integrated education and career training to students with disabilities.
For more information about UPEP at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/upep or call 865-694-6596. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.