Category Archives: Community

National aquarist addresses ocean pollutants at Pellissippi State lecture

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Beyond its size—by some estimates twice that of the continental U.S.—there’s nothing “great” about this swirling flotsam of plastics, chemical sludge and other debris.

Katie Williams, an aquarist at the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., addresses the ocean-borne garbage dump and related pollutants by invitation of the Sustainable Campus Initiative at Pellissippi State Community College in September. The topic is plastics and their role in the health and future of oceans and other major waterways.

Williams’ lecture, “Plastics and Waste Reduction: An Oceans and Wildlife Perspective,” is 10:45-11:45 a.m., Friday, Sept. 27, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is free and the public is invited.

“Education is important to build awareness of what it will take to ensure the continuation of these species in our oceans that are threatened by pollution,” said Karen Lively, the college’s sustainable campus coordinator. “Even in landlocked areas, we affect that pollution.”

“The same waste reduction efforts used globally can be related to protecting the wildlife in and around local watersheds like the Tennessee River,” said Judy Sichler, an anthropology instructor at Pellissippi State.

During her lecture, Williams will show the visual reminders of plastic pollution in our oceans and major waterways, including images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, beach destruction and the effects of microplastic.

Williams graduated with a degree in marine biology from the University of Tennessee and has worked for Sea World, the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the National Aquarium in Washington.

The lecture is tied in to the Sustainable Campus Initiative’s theme for September, plastics and waste reduction. Pellissippi State also will host a viewing of “Tapped,” a documentary film examining the bottled water industry. The event takes place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Goins Building Auditorium.

The community is invited to enjoy the free film and popcorn.

For additional information about the Sustainable Campus Initiative’s September events, call Lively at (865) 539-7364 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State faculty member featured in New York Times March on Washington retrospective

Robert Boyd, an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College, was featured last week in a New York Times article commemorating the March on Washington in 1963.

The 50th anniversary of the event, which included the now-famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr., is today, Aug. 28.

According to “Pass the Bill,” Boyd’s written account of the march, he was called upon as a New York City fireman to guard the Lincoln Memorial area.

“My job was to make sure Martin was safe,” he wrote in the Times, “so I was paying attention to my job. Consequently what I remember from the speech was more about the crowd than him.…

“I remember the impact it had on people, the audience. When he started to speak, there was silence. Thousands and thousands of people, and not a word. And then when he finished, it was an uproar, a crescendo, and this joyous noise. Then I realized, this is something.”

Before the pivotal event, Boyd wrote, “I had no idea about the march, or anything about the civil rights movement at all…. And I tell you, it changed me.… It ignited something in me that has lasted forever. Will always last.”

The 80-year-old Boyd recounts his involvement in starting the “Pass the bill!” call for civil rights legislation through the Washington Mall that day, as well as his later activism in the community and term as president of the Flushing (N.Y.) NAACP.

“Robert was selected by The New York Times to serve as a witness to history,” wrote L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president, in an emailed notice of the Times piece to faculty and staff.

“His story is a timely reminder of how events change lives and how people change communities. I am grateful to Bob for his service to our country and this College.”

To see the complete New York Times article, link here.

Service-Learning partnerships: Pellissippi State to break ground for Pond Gap community garden

Pellissippi State Community College’s Service-Learning program is planting the seeds for the spread of college-sponsored community gardens on the grounds of Knox County Schools.

Pellissippi State’s first garden project, part of a larger effort in Knox County to help students and communities succeed, gets under way this fall at Pond Gap Elementary School. Pond Gap is located near the college’s Division Street Campus, off Sutherland Avenue.

“A community garden project like this is all about the natural neighborhood revitalization that can come by inviting schoolchildren, their families and community college students to work together on quality service projects,” said Annie Gray. Gray is coordinator of Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program and an English professor.

Pond Gap Elementary is Knox County Schools’ pilot project for the Community Schools Initiative. The initiative is one component of a national movement designed to strengthen schools, families, neighborhoods and communities.

Community Schools participants integrate traditional academics with community engagement to help students learn, support students’ families and promote healthy living. One aspect of the effort is to make schools, including Pond Gap,­ into community hubs by opening them for extended hours for outside programs and events.

“The Pond Gap neighborhood is very diverse. Children of 35 different nationalities attend Pond Gap, and a large percentage of their families live at or below the poverty level,” said Gray.

“It’s a challenging area, but also an ideal one for piloting a project that unites neighborhood families, the elementary school, and the college; that cuts across cultural differences to encourage relationships and teach new skills; and that inspires higher education.”

The Pond Gap pilot is overseen by the University of Tennessee. Gray is working closely with Bob Kronick, UT’s director of the University-Assisted Community School program, and Mark Benson, UACS program coordinator, on the community garden effort.

The Service-Learning project, titled “You Are What You Eat: The Edible Schoolyard Project,” is taking advantage of an AmeriCorps VISTA grant to jump-start the venture, plan and build the garden, and staff it with a full-time AmeriCorps volunteer for its inaugural year. Initial plans are to use existing space to complete a small garden by fall, with a larger, more comprehensive spring garden planned. The project’s AmeriCorps volunteer is Matt Callo.

“Pellissippi State students will be part of the volunteer process,” said Gray. “They’ll work in the garden or with Pond Gap schoolchildren, and might take part in workshops offered to the community on topics like balcony gardening or gardening on a budget.

“There are all sorts of curricular tie-ins for Pond Gap students, who can, at minimum, receive valuable math and science lessons from participating in the life of the garden.”

According to Gray, Pellissippi State plans to use the Pond Gap experience as a model for starting gardens at other community schools and eventually to offer an urban gardening certification program to college students. The initial year of the Pellissippi State project at Pond Gap will be used not only to build the garden but also to establish processes, locate sustainable revenue sources and network with other community garden efforts. Once those processes are in place, Pellissippi State will approach another community school for a similar partnership.

Now in its third year, Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program allows students and faculty to integrate meaningful community service and reflection with more traditional learning experiences, teaching civic responsibility and strengthening communities. The garden project also supports the community service placement of 1,000 tnAchieves scholars at Pellissippi State, all of whom must complete eight hours of volunteering in the community each semester.

For more information about the community garden at Pond Gap Elementary School, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or email

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.

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.

Creative learning for children continues with Pellissippi State’s summer classes

Summer months may give children the chance to take a break from school, but they also give them the opportunity to explore topics they might remember long into adulthood. Children as young as 6 can have fun learning about subjects ranging from art and history to acting and computers in Pellissippi State Community College’s summer creative learning classes.

Creative learning camps for kids continue through July, with classes beginning on July 8. Early registration is encouraged. The youth summer course selection for July, offered through Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services Division, includes the following:

“Girls on the Run”—July 8-12, 9-noon; ages 8-12; $75. This summer camp introduces participants to the physical-activity-based Girls on the Run program and helps them prepare for the 10-week fall season. Fee includes healthy snacks, water and a gift. Space is limited.

“Self-Defense for Teen Girls”—July 8-12, 2-4 p.m.; ages 13 and up; $95. Attendees learn basic self-defense skills, safe-dating strategies, predator awareness, escape techniques and assault prevention in an age-appropriate way.

“CreACTivity”—July 8-12, 1-4 p.m.; ages 8-10; $115. Students explore and expand their abilities in all areas of acting for the stage, with the chance to display their skills in a showcase performance. Instruction provided by The WordPlayers.

“ImaginACTion”—July 15-19, 1-4:30 p.m.; ages 11-13; $125. Participants use imagination and technique to create characters for the stage in this active class. The class is capped off with a showcase performance. Instruction provided by The WordPlayers.

“Claymation”—July 15-19, 1-4 p.m.; ages 8-15; $119. Working in small groups, attendees write a script, create clay figures, take photographs and compile a short animated movie. Includes a movie premiere featuring all final projects.

“The Amazing History Adventure”—July 15-19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; ages 9-13; $169. Presented in conjunction with historic Ramsey House, this day-camp experience offers hands-on activities, games and crafts based on early American history. Participants must register by July 8 and should visit the BCS website for a list of materials to bring each day. Classes meet at Ramsey House, 2614 Thorngrove Pike, in East Knox County.

“App-tastic”—July 15-18, 9-noon; ages 8-15; $115. This four-day class teaches students how to build their own app that will work on an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Android with Wi-Fi capabilities.

“Manners Come From the Heart”—July 15-16, 10:30-noon; ages 7-12; $65. This class helps younger students develop tools to make friends easily and feel confident as they learn manners for all occasions.

“Confident Teens in Today’s Changing World”—July 17-18, 12-1:30 p.m.; ages 13 and up; $65. Students learn how to boost confidence and decrease feelings of awkwardness in this social skills class.

“Keyboarding and Basic Computer Skills”—July 22-25, 9-noon; ages 6-10; $115. Youngsters have fun learning their way around the computer in age-appropriate activities, including doing online searches and making greeting cards.

“Microsoft Office Sampler”—July 22-25, 1-4 p.m.; ages 8-15; $115. Attendees can get a head start on future job skills by learning the basic tools for creating documents (Word), presentations (PowerPoint) and spreadsheets (Excel).

“Cambridge ACT Test Prep Class”—July 20, 8:30-noon (pre-test); July 29-20, 5-8 p.m. (math/science); Aug. 5-6, 5-8 p.m. (English/reading); Aug. 10, 8:30-noon (post-test); $425, with $100 discount to those registering by July 5. Students preparing to take the ACT gain test strategies in this curriculum, which has a solid record of improving scores. Must register by July 12.

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. Participants may bring snacks or money for snack machines (optional).

For additional information or registration, visit or call (865) 539-7167. The BCS website lists updated class schedules and information on new course offerings.

Pellissippi State Engineering Tech student benefits from prestigious Grainger scholarship

Esther Dyer, dean of Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus, views the new display case frame created by students Ted Maitlin and Ben Manuel (not pictured). Maitlin and Manuel created the frame to hold fliers at the campus. The frame was part of a project for both an Engineering Technology class and the college’s Service-Learning program.
Esther Dyer, dean of Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus, views the new display case frame created by students Ted Maitlen and Ben Manuel (not pictured).

When Ted Maitlen thought about his future, he did not picture himself on a college campus.

“I never thought school was for me,” he said. “I didn’t do well in high school. I never really saw college as an option.”

Maitlen has turned that image on its head at Pellissippi State Community College.

As a top student in Engineering Technology’s Industrial Maintenance concentration, the 29-year-old just completed the academic year with support from the prestigious Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship.

The scholarship provided $2,000 for tuition and fees. Upon graduation this fall, Maitlen also will receive a customized Westward toolkit worth $2,500 from the company, a leading supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products.

Maitlen began classes at Pellissippi State fall 2011. Prior to college, he served three years in the Army before being discharged and returning to East Tennessee. When he reenlisted six months later, he was deployed to Iraq, where his unit provided security for high-level officials, including U.N. inspectors present for the country’s first election.

Back at home, though, the recession took a toll on Maitlen’s civilian career. His employer cut jobs, and his position as a crane operator was eliminated. He struggled to find work and eventually decided to give college a try.

Maitlen started by visiting Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus and picking up some information about Industrial Maintenance. He also met with Pat Riddle, the concentration’s coordinator and a faculty member. Once Maitlen made the commitment to enroll, he has worked steadily toward a degree.

Part of his motivation rests in securing a better career with a good company. Even more powerful, he says, is his desire to provide a more secure future for his family.

A husband and the father of two, Maitlen attends class in the day, doing homework in between and in the evening. He also helps his 5-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter with their homework.

“There’s not much I’m more proud of than those two,” he said.

Riddle recommended Maitlen for the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship. He described the student as a hard worker, a self-starter, someone willing to help his classmates.

But when asked about the recommendation, Riddle mentioned first a modification Maitlen made to a Humvee in Baghdad that made his team’s patrols safer. According to Riddle, Maitlen figured out a way to cool the fuel solenoid by rerouting the windshield washer fluid.

“This allowed us to stop and restart our vehicle without having to get out and lift the hood (a two-man job) to pour water over the solenoid in order to cool it,” Maitlen said.

Pretty impressive considering that Maitlen was not technically even the unit’s mechanic.

“That kind of quick thinking and problem solving, that’s almost at an instinctual level with him. It’s one of the things that impress me about Ted,” Riddle said.

Maitlen is the fourth Pellissippi State student to earn a Grainger scholarship and one of 100 nationally to receive it for the past academic year. The scholarships are coordinated by the Pellissippi State Foundation.

To learn more about enrolling at Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400. To find out more about scholarships, go to

DENSO gift boosts Pellissippi State Engineering Technology program

The DENSO North America Foundation has presented the Pellissippi State Foundation with a $50,000 donation for new equipment and technology that enhances Pellissippi State Community College’s Engineering Technology degree program.

Providing students with the equipment and technology that they will use upon graduation is a key priority at Pellissippi State.

“Pellissippi State and DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee have collaborated since 1992,” Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said. “This partnership has included training programs for DENSO employees, programmatic and curriculum recommendations for our academic programs, and donations from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee and the DENSO North America Foundation.”

DENSO’s gift pays for Mechatronics Training Systems, also called MecLabs, and thermography equipment for Engineering Technology, as well as for workforce training and STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—awareness.

Students enrolled in Engineering Technology and participants in Business and Community Services training will benefit from the new equipment and technology. Knox County and Blount County students will also be introduced to the new MecLabs.

“This equipment will be used to generate interest at middle and high schools by providing demonstrations and hands-on activities for students with the goal of encouraging potential careers paths involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Wise.

To learn more about giving opportunities, email or call (865) 694-6528. For more information on Engineering Technology and other academic offerings, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State’s Swing Big tournament: Enjoy a round of golf, support students

About 5 men practicing their golf swing early on the green golf course

Early May in East Tennessee usually offers perfect golfing weather. It also offers the perfect opportunity to assist area students while enjoying a round of golf.

Pellissippi State Community College’s ninth annual Swing Big for Students Golf Tournament, scheduled for May 7, brings together players united in a friendly game that ultimately benefits students pursuing their education. Registration is open until May 3.

This year, the Swing Big Signature Sponsor is Pilot Travel Centers. And thanks to Hole-in-One sponsors Karen’s Jewelers and Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson, a player who sinks that perfectly timed hole-in-one could walk away with a diamond ring or ride off on a Harley.

The tournament, hosted by the Pellissippi State Foundation, raises money that goes toward programs that directly impact deserving students. Funds have been used not only to provide student scholarships and emergency loans but also to improve facilities and secure new equipment. The tournament has raised more than $114,000 during the past eight years.

A portion of the proceeds from the 2013 tournament will be awarded to a recipient of the Swing Big for Students Scholarship, which was established in 2010 for Pellissippi State students in Exercise Science or Sport Management.

The golf event takes place at Egwani Farms in Rockford, and shotguns are scheduled at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $100 per player or $400 for a four-person team. Entry fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, driving range, snack, lunch and prizes. In case of inclement weather on May 7, a rain date is scheduled for May 21.

Sponsorship opportunities begin at $150, and a limited number are still available. To learn more about sponsoring, contact Pat Myers, tournament director, at (865) 539-7242 or

To register, visit for the entry form. Completed forms may be faxed to (865) 539-7241 or mailed to the Pellissippi State Foundation, P.O. Box 22990, Knoxville 37933-0990.