Attention faculty: Service-Learning offers students alternative Spring Break in Central Florida

Faculty members Sara Malley and Maria Sills will teach linked courses during spring semester that include an alternative Spring Break trip that focuses on an immersive Service-Learning experience.

Faculty are asked to tell their students about the opportunity, but they should be aware that the classes are corequisites, so students need to sign up for both at the same time. Malley is teaching SOCI 1020 Social Problems, and Sills is teaching SPAN 1020 Beginning Spanish II. The only prerequisite to taking either class is SPAN 1010.

Students won’t be able to register for the linked courses directly, so they should contact Malley or Sills directly: or

The classes will offer students the opportunity to travel to Florida during Spring Break, March 5-9, and learn about history, social justice issues, and culture. Participants will assist at Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka. The center works to empower the immigrant and working poor communities of Central Florida.

Service hours that accumulate during the trip may be counted as Service-Learning hours on a student’s transcript.

Boo! Don’t miss ‘Spooky Pellissippi’

Do things go bump in the hallways here? Storyteller and author Laura Still will be on campus for “Spooky Pellissippi,” 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, to tell spooky tales about Pellissippi State’s “haunted” past. Still has researched and written an original story that she will perform just in time to get students, faculty, and staff into the Halloween mood. Don’t miss “Spooky Pellissippi” in the Goins Building Auditorium.

Volunteer now to mentor a Tennessee Promise student

Future Tennessee Promise students graduating from high school in 2016 need mentors, and now is the time to sign up to help those students meet their full potential.

More than 300 mentors are needed to fill gaps in Knox and Blount counties. Mentors will communicate with students every two weeks via email, phone or text to help them transition from high school to college. Mentors also will attend two meetings to interact with students face to face.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the life of a student,” said Anthony Wise, Pellissippi State’s president. “Mentors will serve as encouragers and resources to primarily first-generation college students.”

Remember that even if you mentored in the past with Tennessee Promise, you won’t automatically be registered as a mentor this round, so be sure to sign up again. New mentors can complete an application at

All mentors — new and returning — need to be registered by Nov. 20, 2015. Mentors can choose their preferred high school on the registration form. New mentors must complete a one-hour training session and two additional one-hour meetings.

Support students with campus & community resources

Anne Pharr
Assistant Professor, English

In recent months, you’ve probably noticed a growing emphasis on connecting Pellissippi State students with campus and community resources to equip them in making progress toward personal and academic goals.

Pellissippi State’s academic support program is one of the primary channels through which we help students access resources. When a faculty member identifies a struggling student, s/he can notify the appropriate Student Success coordinator, who in turn will reach out to the individual, discuss any barriers s/he is facing, and guide him or her to the appropriate place for support. The program has served the College for many years and continues to help students find and utilize the many resources available to them.

This week, Pellissippi State is providing a great new way for students to make connections, by hosting the very first Sharing Our Area Resources event — initially at the Hardin Valley Campus, and eventually at site campuses also. You can read more about SOAR here.  I hope that you’ll not only encourage students to attend but that you’ll also come to learn about some pretty amazing campus and community resources.

Through initiatives like these, Pellissippi State actively provides opportunities for students to strengthen what’s known as “bridging social capital.” According to experts, such “bridging relationships” are vital to our students’ success, by serving as a “primary source of information and support.”

Did you know, though, that relationships between Pellissippi State employees and our students also qualify as “bridging relationships”? When “professors, advisors, mentors, [and] on-campus employers” are intentional about connecting with students, we’re doing our part to strengthen the bridging social capital that can “affect changes in their lives.”

This is one reason Pellissippi State has provided ongoing education for faculty and staff as well as events for students. In the past 17 months, the College has offered a dozen opportunities for employees to deepen our awareness about the students with whom we work. Whether attending an hour-long workshop, a daylong session, or a semester-long reading group, many faculty and staff have attended one of the “Bridges Out of Poverty” events offered at our College. The feedback has been positive, with participants describing the material as “very relevant to the work we do” by providing “a greater understanding of the challenges” that many of our students face.

If you’ve attended any of these events — or if you’d like to — please consider yourself an “official” member of Pellissippi State’s Partners for Student Potential, and make plans to join us at one of the following workshops open to all faculty and staff:

Under-Resourced Students: Their Needs, Our Services

This one-hour workshop will equip faculty and staff to connect Pellissippi State’s under-resourced students with campus resources. Participants will examine common scenarios faced by struggling students, discuss existing campus resources that help students navigate barriers and brainstorm services that might be added to more fully address the needs of under-resourced students. ​It’s facilitated by Sara Malley (Sociology), Ines Gibson (English) and Katie Morris (Sociology).

This workshop will be offered on all site campuses:

  • Magnolia Avenue — Thursday, 10/22, at 10:30 a.m., Room 109
  • Strawberry Plains —  Thursday, 10/22, at 2:30 p.m., Room 2610
  • Blount County — Monday, 10/26, at 3 p.m., Room 261
  • Division Street — Tuesday, 10/27, at 2:30 p.m., Room 118
  • Hardin Valley — Wednesday, 10/28, at 3 p.m., Goins 151

Do You Speak Student? Reinforcing the Value of Code-Switching by Practicing What We Preach

We all know how vital it is for students to demonstrate mastery of academic English in their speaking and writing. In the workplace, in higher education and throughout the middle class, standard American English is the language of choice. More important, anyone working with students can adopt practices that can allow them to hone their language resources. This one-hour workshop will begin with a brief overview of language theory before providing faculty and staff with practical ways to model code-switching with students both in and out of class, as well as with usable tools for allowing students to rehearse this skill in a variety of ways. It’s facilitated by Keri Withington (English) and Anne Pharr (English).

This workshop also will be offered on all site campuses:

  • Magnolia Avenue — Monday, 10/19, at 11:40 a.m. in Room 123
  • Division Street — Monday, 10/19, at 3:05 p.m. in Room 118
  • Hardin Valley — Thursday, 10/22, at 3:40 in Room TBA
  • Blount County — Wednesday, 10/28, at 11:50 in Room 164
  • Strawberry Plains — Thursday, 10/29, at 12:25 in Room TBA

In a recent issue of “Inside Pellissippi,” President Anthony Wise reminded us that our college — and each individual in the College — has the opportunity to impact the lives of our students in meaningful ways. I hope you will make the most of that opportunity by partnering with Pellissippi State and with our students as they strive to discover and fulfill their amazing potential.

Source of data: “Understanding and Engaging Under-Resourced College Students” by Karen Becker, Karla M. Krodel, and Bethanie H. Tucker.

Common Academic Experience presents Storytelling Festival

Appalachian storytellers headline Pellissippi State Community College’s Storytelling Festival, which takes place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, in the Courtyard on the Hardin Valley Campus.

Each storyteller’s presentation will last 25-30 minutes. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the free event. Here is the lineup:

  • Janice Brooks-Headrick tells the stories of “First Kiss” and “Homecoming.” Brooks performs on stage and at festivals, and is corresponding secretary of Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association.
  • Rick Elliott’s tale is “A Conversation With Rick.” Elliott is a retired teacher from Ohio who tells stories about his own real-life situations.
  • Susan Fulbright tells “The Calico Coffin” and “Lover Lady Bumper Jumper.” Fulbright is a native East Tennessean with a master’s degree in storytelling and reading. She’s vice president of the Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association.
  • Cuz Headrick’s stories are “Green Hair” and “Writing Spider.” Headrick is one of the best-known storytellers in East Tennessee, most notably serving as resident storyteller at Blackberry Farm for 10 years.
  • Ruthie McIntyre tells “Where There’s a Will, There Is a Way.” McIntyre is a former Pellissippi State faculty member with a long career in education. Her tales often feature her world travels.
  • Millie Sieber tells the story “Rockefeller.” Her repertoire includes a variety of tales, from scary to humorous. She also teaches storytelling workshops.

Anthony Wise: Letters of Note

Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise

Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise

L. Anthony Wise Jr.
Pellissippi State President

On September 24, the College issued a press release noting that for the first time in our history, Pellissippi State had the largest enrollment among the community colleges in Tennessee in terms of headcount (10,325) and full-time equivalent (6,630). More than 1,700 of our students are class of 2015 high school graduates entering on the Tennessee Promise; they join the nearly 1,600 students continuing with Tennessee Achieves. The strong response to these last-dollar scholarship programs is the primary factor in the increase in headcount and FTE and a decrease in average age of our students.

While nearly one-third of our students receive support through last-dollar scholarship programs, many others receive aid from other federal or state programs, the Pellissippi State Foundation or institutional initiatives. Over the course of an academic year, I receive hundreds of letters from students who have been recipients of Foundation or College scholarships. Those letters reveal much about our students, including why they are here and the difficulties they face outside the classroom. They contain insight into the narratives individual students craft about their lives and their experiences at the College.

One student writes to say she has been out of school for 26 years but has returned to pursue a degree in Business with a concentration in Hospitality. She hopes to become an event planner and to serve as an example to her children and grandchildren. Another writes as a single parent with limited education; she, too, hopes to be a role model for her children and to continue her education through the completion of a master’s degree so she can be a licensed clinical social worker. Still another writes of leaving the workforce after more than two decades to find a path closer to his passion for making a difference in the community and in the lives of people in need.

You might not know all of the students with letters in this fall’s pile, but you know students like them. They know you as well, and from time to time, one will take the opportunity to list every single person at the College, inside the classroom and out, who has helped him or her achieve success. Numbers are important; being the largest community college in the state is significant. Changing lives one story at a time really is the best measure of our success. I thank you — and our students thank you — for your contributions. If you ever doubt that what you do and what we do matters, stop by my office so we can read of few of those letters together.

*I borrowed the title “Letters of Note” from the name of a Twitter feed of historically and culturally significant letters published by @shaunusher. I think he would agree that some of our students have written letters of note.    

Audrey Williams: Cyber Security Awareness Month

I love October. The leaves are changing color. The sky takes on that spectacular blue. But, October is also Cyber Security Awareness Month. I know, I know … that is sooooo very exciting (insert eye roll here). But, please put down your pumpkin spice latte for a second and spend a few minutes learning how you can make the Internet safer for everyone.

I will be sharing several blog posts this month on topics of cyber security, as well as what we do here at Pellissippi State to help make our network and data more secure, so be sure to check them out at But, today, I want to share some information about how you can be more secure online.

There are LOTS of ways to help make your identity, your money and your data more secure. The basics include keeping your computer and smartphone up to date, running security software, deleting unused/unwanted applications, and being smart about using public Wi-Fi in your favorite coffee shop and other locations. Another method to stay two steps ahead of cyber criminals is to use “two-step authentication.” It is also called “two-factor authentication,” or 2FA, which is a VERY fancy technical term for a pretty easy-to-use security option. Here is how it works:

We are all used to websites and services that require a username and password for our security. It is a big part of how we protect information here on campus as well. With about 28 percent of all identify theft in 2013 being account takeovers (where the intruder cracked the account password and got into the account), it is important to have a secure password. And we all know that it is important to use a different password for EVERY account, right? (I will wait for the laughter to subside.) It really is, though, and there are simple ways to help you keep up with all of those passwords. Don’t worry; I will cover that in a blog post soon.

Back to 2FA. When it is implemented into a system, you must use two things to log into your account:

  1. A password, passphrase or something else that you KNOW, and
  2. Something that you HAVE, usually a physical device, but it can be an alternate email address.

Businesses and organizations (like the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for example) will provide employees with a fob that serves this function. But, for personal two-step authentication, the one physical device most of us have all of the time is — you guessed it — our cell phone!

Unfortunately, there is no universal way to enable two-step authentication, but it does work in a similar manner for many services. After you enter your username and password at a site that uses 2FA, you are prompted to then enter a phone number or email address as well. The service creates a code that can be used ONE TIME and sends it to you as a text or email. You enter that code and the access is given. Some services, like Google and Facebook, now offer an app for your phone that generates the code so you don’t even have to wait for a text or email to log into their service. I use the Google Authenticator app for my personal account, and it works very well. And if you don’t have your phone, Google can provide you a list of one-time use codes you can carry with you, which is handy when you are traveling and your phone battery dies.

Not every service offers 2FA, but many do:

  • Email providers like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Outlook
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr
  • Banks like USAA, Ally and Bank of America

If you would like to learn more about 2FA or see how to implement it with some of the services listed above, I found a great page that gathers lots of the “how-tos” in one location at the cyber security awareness site Stop. Think. Connect.

Have a safe and happy Cyber Security Awareness Month!!

Audrey Williams
Vice President of Information Services 

Source for Data:

Invite students to Share Our Area Resources fair

Invite your students to a resource fair on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Hardin Valley Campus.

The SOAR — or Share Our Area Resources — event is open to all students and takes place 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the College Center. The fair allows students to connect with on-campus resources like tutoring, advising, and counseling, as well as off-campus resources related to housing, transportation, and other essentials.

SOAR is sponsored through a partnership with Country Music Television’s Empowering Education Community College Initiative.

Students can learn more about the College’s TRiO Student Support Services, Access and Diversity, and UPEP (Universal Pathways to Employment Project) offerings. Information will be available about support specifically designed for veterans, nontraditional students, adult learners, single parents and students with disabilities.

As part of the Empowering Education Community College Initiative, CMT has partnered with a cohort of 15 community colleges in Appalachia to promote student success stories, support recruitment and promotional events, and foster local economic development.