Counseling Services hosts Monday Fun Day for students, faculty, staff


May the Fourth be with you.

Counseling Services is hosting Monday Fun Day today, May 4, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Courtyard on the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is meant to help students, faculty and staff de-stress during finals week.

The event features visits from HABIT [Human Animal Bond in Tennessee] dogs, as well as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, hula hoops and other ways to relax. Some activities will be themed around the Star Wars franchise, commonly celebrated on May 4.

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College-hosted VISTA volunteers work to improve community

Pellissippi State has been host to five AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers this past academic year, and those volunteers have spent months reaching out to community partners in support of food access, environmental stewardship, and community schools. Here’s a little bit about each VISTA volunteer’s service experience:

Nicole Lewis, Great Schools Partnership

“I’ve spent the past few months building bridges between community partners and Pellissippi State students seeking volunteer opportunities,” Lewis said. As part of Great Schools Partnership, Lewis does a good deal of work with community schools, or schools in the Knox County Schools system with an integrated focus on academics, supportive health and social services, and community development to improve learning and strengthen families.

Originally from Virginia, she fell in love with community service while a student at George Mason University.

“I became involved with the campus Habitat for Humanity. It opened my world and I found out that I wanted to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.” When her year as a VISTA ends in August, Lewis will continue working for the Great Schools Partnership.

Caley Hyatt, Knoxville Permaculture Guild

“At the Knoxville Permaculture Guild,” said Hyatt, “I’ve been planning workshops in the Park Ridge community, where there’s a community garden. We’re helping people there integrate permaculture principles into their neighborhood. We hope it will wake people up to the possibilities of permaculture by focusing our efforts on one community.” Permaculture is an approach to sustainability that has as its core principles care for the earth, care for people and a return of surplus into the ecosystem.

Hyatt, who hails from Bristol, has been in Knoxville since 2011. She’s an RN and has worked at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, but she entered Pellissippi State’s AmeriCorps VISTA program to pursue her passion for community health and food access.

“So many people lack basic access to things like healthy food. I’m really passionate about that. After this year as a VISTA is over, I’d like to go back to school in student ecology, perhaps teach and continue working in the community.”

Elias Attea, University Assisted Community School at Pond Gap Elementary School

“Since the community garden here was founded in 2013,” Attea said, “we’ve strived to integrate the garden with the school’s culture. It’s a lot of work to communicate with school staff, develop programming, recruit and manage volunteers, remember every child’s name, and meet with parents, plus take care of a close-to-a-third-of-an-acre garden. But at the end of the day, I’m excited about what I do.”

This year, Attea has overseen a new initiative in “therapeutic horticulture.” He works with Pond Gap’s school counselor to offer children behavioral opportunities in the garden, providing them a place to recalibrate from the stresses of school.

Attea hopes to stay on at Pond Gap long enough to get the next Pellissippi State VISTA acclimated, then return to his home in the Southwest. He says he might pursue a career in teaching or in horticultural therapy.

Jennifer Hurst, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

“I work as a rural liaison, helping expand Second Harvest’s capacity in rural communities to improve emergency food assistance,” said Hurst. “I try to plug in Pellissippi State Service-Learning student volunteers to help with this goal, particularly in a new program called Healthy Harvest, which will distribute produce from Second Harvest’s garden and from local farmers’ markets.”

Hurst has a family tradition of community service: her grandmother served in both AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, and her mother encouraged Hurst to attend political volunteer events.

“When I was looking for a change in my life, it was only natural to look to AmeriCorps.” Hurst’s plan when her volunteer stint is over? “When my VISTA year is up, I’ll probably go to Disneyland.”

Charlotte Rodina, The Center for Urban Agriculture at Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum

“I’ve spent time organizing volunteer days at the Knoxville Botanical Garden to get healthy food to nearby residents,” Rodina said. “We are located in a food desert, so the gardens are really concerned about food access and being able to get healthy food. Having access to fresh and healthy food is a human right, so I love working with people to help them to grow their own.”

Rodina also will spend time in the coming months at the Hardin Valley Campus establishing a community garden. That vegetable garden will be run by volunteers and will be open to classroom use. Food from the garden will be served in the Cafeteria and also donated.

The Virginia native is a newcomer to Knoxville and formerly worked as a journalist.

The VISTA volunteers are sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program,

Celebrate Earth Week with speakers, contests and giveaways

Pellissippi State has a jam-packed schedule of events for Earth Week, beginning Monday, April 20.

“We’ve had such a great response to Earth Day events in past years,” said Karen Lively, sustainable campus coordinator, “that we’re very excited to offer a whole week’s worth of events, with some on each of our five campuses. This gives all of our students, faculty and staff the ability to participate.”

Events, dates and times are listed below. All events are at the Hardin Valley Campus unless otherwise specified. A full Earth Week schedule of events at all campuses is available at

Monday, April 20:

  • Sustainable Campus Initiative—11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Speaker Melissa Lapsa presents an overview of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s sustainable campus initiative.
  • Meatless Monday Information Table—11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Goins Building Rotunda

Tuesday, April 21:

  • “Inhabit” Film Screening—10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Popcorn is served; prizes and giveaways are available in the Rotunda. Knoxville Permaculture Guild members answer questions immediately following the film.
  • Snack Pack—1:30-3 p.m. on the first floor of the McWherter Building. Free organic snacks and juices are available to students.
  • “Making Tap Water Sexy and Available”—12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Magnolia Avenue Campus. Joshua Cunningham of the Tennessee Clean Water Network is speaking.

Wednesday, April 22:

  • Earth Day Exhibit—10 a.m.-1 p.m., featuring remarks by President Anthony Wise and a performance by Hardin Valley Thunder. Exhibitors include student clubs, local businesses and nonprofits, craft stations, and e-cycling collection. Attendees can expect giveaways, including Earth Week T-shirts, and prizes for students, plus cake and popsicles.
  • “Bug Me. Really. Please Bug Me!”—11-noon at the Division Street Campus. Speaker Janice Gangwer, a University of Tennessee Extension master gardener, speaks about beneficial insects.
  • Todd Montgomery, Elephant Sanctuary—2-3 p.m. in the Cafeteria Annex. Montgomery speaks about the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald.
  • Climate Change Presentation—1-2:30 p.m. in the West Auditorium of the Blount County Campus. Speaker Tom Werkema of Arkema Inc. discusses the current understanding of the science of climate change. Werkema is an internationally known expert on climate change and ozone depletion and was recognized for his contribution to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thursday, April 23:

  • “Plant Your Seed in the Growing Field of ‘Green’ Careers”—Noon-1 in the Goins Building Auditorium. Speaker Scott Hacker of Trane Commercial Systems presents on the careers available in sustainability industries. Popcorn and giveaways are offered.
  • Student, Faculty and Staff Recycle Sorting Contest—11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Courtyard

Friday, April 24:

  • National Arbor Day—10-11 a.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. Certified arborist David Vandergriff speaks. Students can make pine cone birdfeeders in the Rotunda before and during the presentation. Prizes and popcorn are available.
  • Historic Seedling Giveaway—10-noon in the first-floor middle lobby of the Alexander Building

For more information, visit

Bill and Sharon Brewer endowment now in place

In memory of Bill Brewer and in honor of his wife, Sharon, the Pellissippi State Foundation has made available the Bill and Sharon Brewer Music Scholarship.

The fund is set up for online giving at or by bringing a check to Pellissippi State Foundation offices.

The endowed scholarship will be awarded each year to a Music major with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. The funds disbursed to the student will vary depending on the amount of scholarship money available.

Bill Brewer, the program coordinator of Music at Pellissippi State, passed away in late March after a battle with cancer.

“This scholarship honors Bill’s legacy as an enthusiastic teacher and a talented musical voice,” said Peggy Wilson, executive director of the Foundation and vice president of College Advancement. “Bill was dedicated to his students, and we hope this scholarship helps carry on his incredible gift of encouragement and his commitment to excellence.”

Employees recognized for accomplishments, longevity

Faculty and staff are invited to celebrate the College’s 40th anniversary at the annual Employee Awards presentation at noon Thursday, April 16. A boxed lunch will be served after the event.

The event recognizes outstanding adjunct and full-time faculty members, administrators, contract workers, and support professional and technical/service/maintenance employees. Employees will be recognized with certificates for their years of service, in five-year increments. Employees retiring in 2014-2015 will receive special acknowledgment.

New this year, the event will name the winners of the Nina Walker McPherson Outstanding Service Award and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award.

Additionally, faculty and staff will be recognized for achievement with the Excellence in Teaching, Innovations, and Gene Joyce Visionary awards.

The event is organized by the Employee Recognition Committee and funded by the Pellissippi State Foundation.

Faculty Poetry Reading features multiple works

Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend a Faculty Poetry Reading Friday, April 17, in the Goins Building Auditorium. The event begins at 1 p.m.

The reading will focus on the original poems of several of our faculty members. Each poet-professor will read one or two works. Featured are Edward Francisco, Patricia Ireland, Nicholas Morgan, Keith Norris, Barbara Anne Pharr, Heather Schroeder and Charles White.

“We want to enable our students, in particular, to see what talented faculty we have,” said Francisco, English professor and writer-in-residence. “When they’re in the classroom, they might not know the talent of the person who is teaching them.”

The event takes place in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

“Plus, April is Shakespeare’s birthday month,” Francisco said. “We couldn’t let that month go by without a celebration of language and literature at Pellissippi State.”

The showcase is being planned by Francisco and Schroeder, an English instructor.

Philosophy professor’s ethics ‘hornbook’ published

Male in suit holding bookA book written by Charles Cardwell, program coordinator of Humanities and a professor of Philosophy, was picked up recently for printing by the academic publishing house Hackett Publishing Company.

The book, “Hornbook Ethics,” focuses on basic skills that enable readers to understand, analyze, and evaluate theoretical and real-life ethical problems. “Hornbook” refers to the historical primers that covered the rudiments of a particular discipline.

“The need for ethics primers has long existed…,” said Cardwell, “but it has recently become more acute and more difficult to meet, because today’s students have grown up in a world where audio and video media overshadow the written word.”

The book’s content was developed using Cardwell’s own classroom experiences and feedback from his students. He plans to use the text in his ethics classes and has assigned all royalties to benefit student scholarships through the Pellissippi State Foundation.