2019 Adult Education Graduation sports sizable Johnson County class

By Tamas Mondovics
Johnson County graduates joined Washington and Carter County graduates for the first-ever, combined Adult Education Graduation Ceremony last month.
According to school officials, family and friends gathered at Munsey Methodist in Johnson City to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2018-2019 graduates ranging in age from 18 to 64, who earned their ‘High School Equivalency Diploma.’
The graduating class was made up of a diverse group of adult students with a desire to better their lives by attaining their goal of earning their diploma.
Nearly thirty Johnson
County residents earned their High School Equivalency Diploma this year, which has the potential to change the lives of the graduates and their families for generations to come.
In a recent release, the Johnson County Adult Education Office emphasized that earning an equivalency diploma opens doors for both employment and
educational opportunities.
“The majority of Johnson County graduates are now choosing to further their education, which is due in large part, to the Governor’s “Drive to 55” program, which offers two years of free college to Tennessee residents, regardless of age,” said lead Instructor Karla Prudhomme.
For more information or to register for classes,
call the Johnson County Adult Education office 460-3330.

Yards to Paradise: Tomatoes in every yard


By Max Phelps

Almost everyone can grow tomatoes, and there are at least a handful of good reasons for doing so.
Just about everyone loves tomatoes, if not fresh in a salad or on a sandwich, then in the form of sauce on the pizza or added to a homemade soup or something. And, they are so easy to grow that a
5 year old can do it. So, let’s take a moment to consider some tomatoes in your
yard, garden, planter or flowerbed.
The fruits from a tomato plant (we called them vegetables when I was a child) are nutritious as well as delicious. And, they come in many shapes and sizes, with the plants also having great variability.
I’ve often planted seeds to raise my own plants, but unless you have a greenhouse or grow room, plants obtained from the farm store or local greenhouse will bear fruit sooner than starting from seeds. Then, for larger plantings, or for later or main plantings, or for a fall crop, growing more plants from seeds is the cheap way to go, and you can also have whichever variety you want rather than buying only the plants grown for commercial sales. (Buying left over, deeply discounted, overgrown plants in July is also a cheap option—and if you dig a big enough hole to bury most of the stems, they will recover and grow well for you most of the time.)
Some of my favorites are Early Girl which I buy plants of for the quickest ripe tomato usually. Then, yellow cherry or pear tomatoes, Chocolate cherry, Black Krim, Celebrity and Mr. Stripey are often on my list. Except for the Celebrity, I usually start the others from seeds. But, with literally hundreds of tomato varieties in some seed catalogs, you can try growing many hybrids and many heirloom varieties. The old standby for canning tomatoes has long been ‘Rutgers’. Roma and other Italian meaty types make the best sauce or paste. Perhaps you should visit a local farmers market or co-op and try several tomato varieties.
Not everyone wants a traditional garden, or rows of staked tomatoes in the landscape. But, there are dwarf determinate types for a flowerpot. And there are tall-growing indeterminate types such as many of the cherry tomatoes which work well on a trellis or lattice or even in the back of the flower bed. My elderly mother has some growing up the porch railings. They can be tied to any pole such as that supporting a bird feeder or birdhouse. Or, if you just let them grow on the ground like watermelons or squash, you’ll still harvest many juicy tomatoes for the table over the course of the summer.
Some useful information in closing: There are various tomato diseases, and some of the newer hybrids have multiple resistances. On the other hand, if you’re using potting soil in a raised bed…there should be no diseases, so you may plant any variety you like. Newly cleared woodlands are usually free of diseases, too.
Take note of how many days from seed to ripe fruit, or how many days from seedling to ripe fruit. If you’re in a hurry for early tomatoes, don’t plant the “big boy” types that take 80 to 100 days to ripen. Likewise, in the fall, these big guys probably won’t ripen (although you may enjoy fried green tomatoes from them, or could put them in a sunny window or with ripening apples or pears to
help them turn from green to ripe).
Universally loved, and so easy to grow, and with them coming in so many flavors and colors, why wouldn’t you want a tomato plant? It is fun to watch things grow, and all the more if it’s also fun to eat them.
It’s not too late to get started, as tomatoes love warm weather and sunny days. They also do OK in partial shade and cooler weather. Temperatures in the 90’s or 100’s can stop some varieties from setting fruit until fall-like temperatures or monsoon season sets in. I think I’m going to check on the tomato seeds I planted last week, and maybe even plant some more in little pots. I hope you’ll be inspired to produce a fresh ripe tomato in your yard before the year is gone. You’ll be delighted with the results.
The author is a landscaper. Comments welcome. Email: rockcastle@gmail.com

Johnson County cadets among WSCC Law Enforcement Academy graduates

By Tamas Mondovics

The Walters Regional Law Enforcement Academy honored the cadets during its Class 112 graduation ceremony held last month.
According to WSCC officials, forty-three students graduated, becoming POST-certified to work as law enforcement officers for Tennessee agencies.
Johnson County graduates included Dillon Hicks (Mountain City, Mountain City PD), with the Montgomery County (all with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department) includes Marcus Daw, (Clarksville) James Moore, (Clarksville), Kevin Padilla, (Clarksville), and Michael Weber, (Clarksville).
Lieutenant Mike Fraley of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department was the guest speaker.
Based at the college’s Greeneville/Greene County Campus, the academy is an intensive nine-week, 480-hour program. Upon completion, students are awarded the technical certificate in Basic Law Enforcement Officer Education. Most are employed by a law enforcement agency and are eligible to apply for certification by the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission as a certified peace officer in the state of Tennessee.
The program is part of the college’s Public Safety Center of Emphasis, a designation recognizing its outstanding record in career preparation.

Graduates also included Carter County’s Cory Locklear of Blountville, Carter County Sheriff’s Office; Hawkins County’s Raymond Owens of Bulls Gap, Student and Robert Anderson of Rogersville, Student; Sullivan County’s Benjamin Beach of Blountville, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office,
Jeremy Lynch of Bristol, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, Megan Smith of Kingsport, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, and Todd Stanley of Kingsport, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office; Washington County’s Jessica Brown of Jonesborough, Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Walters State is a learning centered, comprehensive community college established in 1970 to provide affordable and quality higher education opportunities for the residents of East Tennessee.

In 1957, the Pierce-Albright Report on Higher Education in Tennessee was made to the Tennessee Legislative Council.

This report reflected the need for additional higher education opportunities to be provided for the average Tennessean. Upper East Tennessee was one of many places where higher education was not readily available to the citizens.

Walters State received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1972 and, after completion of an effective institutional Self Study Program, received reaffirmation of accreditation in December 1976. Extensive institutional Self Studies were completed during 1985-87, 1995-97, and 2005-07. Subsequent to the successful Self Studies, Walters State received reaffirmation of accreditation in December 1987, December 1997, and June 2008.

Cybersecurity camp impacting middle and high school students

Staff Report

Approximately 40
students from across the state of Tennessee have gathered at Tennessee Tech this week to learn about cybersecurity at the 2019 GenCyber Residential Camp.
It is the fourth year that Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) has hosted the camp.
“The camp has made significant impact not just in our local community but also at the state and in the region,” said CEROC director Ambareen
Siraj. “We are turning more young minds to cyber safety and cybersecurity career as we progress over the years.”
The students, learned about cybersecurity using the Raspberry Pi single board computer, games illustrating cybersecurity concepts, competitions, and team projects.
Throughout all of the activities, campers had a
chance to learn key cybersecurity concepts,
online safety, and careers
in cybersecurity and meet cybersecurity experts in government and industry.
“It is amazing to watch these young people grow both in communication skills and knowledge throughout the week,” said Eric Brown, CEROC’s assistant director. “These individuals begin their week as a group of strangers and end the week as members of highly functional teams with strong bonds. We have begun to see some of our past GenCyber campers join us in the computer science program here at Tech. This is the real sign that something awesome happened here.”
“The camp was the deciding factor in choosing Tennessee Tech as my school. GenCyber solidified my decision to follow a cybersecurity path,” said Tate Seyler.
CEROC is no stranger to these types of outreach events. Throughout the year, in addition to its collegiate education
and research activities, the center engages over 1,000 K12 students during programs such as GenCyber on Wheels, on-site presentations, career fairs, and visiting groups.
“Our work in K12 is
crucial to addressing future cybersecurity issues,” said Brown.
Brown added that many of the students don’t fully understand what cybersecurity is but think of that strange person that never comes out of the basement.
“In reality, cybersecurity professionals work in areas ranging from academia, law enforcement, defensive and offensive operations, and forensics.
It is a joy to see young eyes light up and see the opportunities in this field.”

TCAT offers first criminal justice course

Staff report

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn.—The Tennessee Board of Regents, at its regular meeting on June 21, approved TCAT Elizabethton offering its first course in criminal justice.
College President Dean Blevins said the course, for jailers and guards, is being offered in response to requests from law enforcement officials in the region.
The course will be taught at the Herman Robinson Extension Campus, located at 1500 Arney Street in Elizabethton.
According to Blevins, the curriculum consists of a broad range of topics designed to equip jailers and guards with the knowledge and understanding of inmate processing, maintaining
order in the jail and invoking disciplinary measures when necessary.
“We plan to offer the course in September 2019 provided there are a sufficient number of students enrolled,” Blevins said.
This training, provides students with knowedge of emergency procedures, mental health and first aid, defensive
tactics and use of force, ethics and legal issues, investigations, personal development, and worker characteristics, among other items.
Students, who complete the first trimester, 432 clock hours of study, will receive a Correctional Officer
Apprentice Certificate.
If students complete the trimesters, totaling 864 clock hours of study, they will receive a Master
Correctional Officer Certificate. Classes will meet from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Monday through Thursday in Building One at 1500 Arney Street in Elizabethton.
Please email to patricia.henderson@tcatelizabethton.edu.

Early Education In Johnson County

By Jack Swift
Early Education In Johnson County

Early in its beginning the people of Johnson County saw the need for education. As the county grew in population, schools were begun that basically taught the “Three Rs.” Parents would pay by the month for their children to attend the schools which only lasted a few months during the fall and winter.
No state money was avail-able in the early years of Johnson County’s existence. Consequently, very few children were enrolled in any kind of school. Johnson County was formed from Carter County in 1836. But, in the year 1839 only 767 students were in school in Johnson County. The total cost of education that year was $388.08 a little over 50 cents per child.
In the early days of the county there was little schooling but such schooling as they had was under the leadership of a few clergymen who had accompanied their Scotch-Irish congregations from Virginia and North Carolina into Ten-nessee country.
In the first 25 years of the 1900s there were a total of 67 schools that had operated in the county at various times. Each little community had its own school. Roads were not the best during those years. Many children walked to school before school buses came on the scene.
I remember walking about two miles to Dewey Ele-mentary School which was located about three miles west of Mountain City in the Dewey Community. It was a two-room, two-teacher school. One of my uncles, Joe Swift, taught at Shady Valley and Fritts’ Curve schools before going to the Philippines for an eleven-year stint as a voca-tional teacher there.
The first Johnson County public secondary school was opened February 1, 1908. The semester was three months. Five dollars was voted to bear expense of the
commencement. The Town of Mountain City and Johnson County shared the cost of the high school.
Taylorsville Lodge No. 243 Free and Accepted Masons erected a three-story building on a two and one fourth acre plot of land purchased from Harry L. Johnson for $250.00. The building was designed for an educational facility on the first two floors and a lodge hall on the top floor. The cost of construction was born by the lodge.
The first term in the new building was in 1874. The academy continued for twenty years as the Masonic Institute. Funds to operate the school principally came from tuition and contributions. The building was razed in 1905 and replaced by another three-story brick building completed in 1907 by the Masonic Lodge at a cost of $4,000,00.
Some information for this column was gleaned from a work by the late Ross D. Fritts, longtime educator in Johnson County. Fritts published a book titled Development of Education In Johnson County Tennessee in 1978.

4-H summer camps teach students life skills

Children participate in outdoor events at the Johnson County Junior 4-H camp. Photo submitted

Submitted by Danielle Pleasant

Most students look forward to summer as a break from school and learning; however, life experiences often teach us the most valuable of lessons.
Camps are a great way to learn outside the classroom and keep youth engaged during their break from school.
The 4-H program continues to promote youth development and offers a wide variety of camps and programs to engage youth throughout the summertime.
Thirty-one Johnson county 4-H’ers spent a week at the Clyde Austin 4-H center during Junior 4-H Camp enjoying a variety of activities while learning life skills.
If you missed Junior 4-H Camp or just miss being there, don’t worry, we still have lots of fun things planned for our youth. 4-H member and June Dairy Chair, Cindy Jones, will be hosting a variety of June Dairy activities throughout the month of June.
Additionally, Johnson and Carter County 4-H programs are collaborating to offer a Food Science day camp on June 27th and a clothing and textiles camp in July. Seventh and eighth-grade youth can also register to attend Jr. High Camp during the week of July 8th-12th, hosted at the Clyde Austin 4-H Center in Greeneville.
If you can’t attend a camp, consider staying active with 4-H this summer by submitting 4-H projects or exhibits in the Appalachian Fair. Students in 4th-12th grades can enter baking, photography, gardening, and many other items in the fair, earning cash premiums for winning entries.
To learn more on 4-H camps, activities, events, and programs being offered, contact Danielle Pleasant, 4-H Extension Agent by email or phone at dsilver2@utk.edu or 727-8161.

JCHS to welcome ‘new’ principal

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

When school resumes in August, students at Johnson County High School will see many new faces in the hallways and some familiar faces in new roles, including that of Leon Henley, who begins his tenure as JCHS principal this year.
“I am excited and honored to be serving as the principal at JCHS,” Henley says. “I have a lot of pride in our school and community.” Henley relates he wants the students at JCHS to have the confidence that they can pursue any career or college they desire when they leave the hill.
The Johnson County School Board approved Henley’s appointment to his new role in April. He succeeds Lisa Throop, who retired at the end of the 2018-2019 school year after 30 years with the district.
Before being named JCHS principal, Henley was an assistant principal at the school for one year. A JCHS graduate himself, Henley pursued an undergrad degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at East Tennessee State University and went on to earn a master’s degree in School Administration from Union College and an Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.
Henley served as an instructional assistant as his first job in education at Laurel Elementary and then as a teacher at Neva Elementary, one of the elementary schools that closed when Roan Creek Elementary School opened. Additionally, he has taught at Laurel Elementary, Mountain City Elementary, and Roan Creek Elementary and served as Principal at Laurel for three years and as Assistant Principal at both Mountain City and Roan Creek Elementary. Henley served as Assistant Basketball coach for nine years at JCHS.
“I appreciate the support that our community gives our school,” said Henley, “and I look forward to building on the relationships that Mrs. Throop and the staff already have in place.”
Principal’s Message
“Dear JCHS Students and Parents:
The JCHS faculty and staff would like to welcome you to the 2019-2020 school year.
We are very excited about beginning this school year and the opportunities that we have to offer our students. Our goal is to work with the parents to ensure that each student develops to their highest potential. I feel that JCHS offers many opportunities to assist students as they progress towards adulthood. I am extremely proud of our school and know you are as well.
Please read this handbook carefully, as it is filled with information about school policies and procedures. We will be working hard to make sure these are followed to guarantee the best educational opportunity possible.
We strongly encourage student, parent, and community involvement as we work constantly to improve our school. Please feel free to contact the school or come by with any suggestions.
We encourage active participation at JCHS from students, staff, and community members. As a team, I look forward to what we will accomplish.”
Leon Henley

Summer Construction Internship Offers Experience to Local Students

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Johnson County High School students now have the chance to participate in a summer program that allows students to get “hands-on” experience working with construction companies during the summer.
The summer construction internship is a collaboration between the First Tennessee Human Resource Area (FTHRA) and construction companies that are needing skilled labor.
Lottie Ryans from FTHRA stated that construction companies are struggling to find employees, so they partnered together with high schools to begin the summer internship program.
Johnson County, along with Washington County, was chosen for this unique opportunity.
Nearly 30 students applied for the jobs; ten students were chosen from Johnson County.
Officials said that Johnson County was chosen for the projects due to the construction program at the high school where students, along with their teachers, go to a construction site and build houses.
Ryans wanted to build upon the existing framework of a successful program but would allow full-time employment for the students.
Herbie Adams, the contact person for the school system and Ryans, contacted the construction companies to discuss the internship program around the first of the
Adams continued to work with his vocational teachers to get the word out about the summer program and to help identify potential students.
The construction companies are Burleson Construction, Acorn Electric, and Norwell.
The students were interviewed, and drug tested before school was out in May. Background checks were also conducted on each applicant.
Ryans stated each construction company spent around $300-$500 on each intern.
“If the student performs to the ‘employer’s expectation, the possibility of more permanent employment is likely,” Ryans said.
Adams mentioned that for every five employees that retire, only one could be found to replace them. Recent high school graduate, and one of the interns this summer is Noah Cox, who enjoys working for Burleson Construction.
“Being an intern for Burleson has taught me a lot about the construction business,” Cox said. “Every day, I learn something new.”
Adams emphasized that the goal is to match students with potential employers to help further their skills and the “likelihood of getting into a good career after graduation.”
Adams will be visiting the students on site to see how they are doing, but the overall evaluation and supervision is the responsibility of the
construction companies.
The summer construction internship is a pilot program and will end in July, but if everything goes well, there
is potential for further growth.

Whatever Happened to an Affordable College Education?

As U.S. college students and their families know all too well, the cost of higher education in the United States has skyrocketed in recent decades.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2008 and 2017, the average cost of attending a four-year public college, adjusted for inflation, increased in every state in the nation.
In Arizona, tuition soared by 90 percent. Over the past 40 years, the average cost of attending a four-year college increased by over 150 percent for both public and private institutions.
By the 2017-2018 school year, the average annual cost at public colleges stood at $25,290 for in-state students and $40,940 for out-of-state students, while the average annual cost for students at private colleges reached $50,900.
In the past, many public colleges had been tuition-free or charged minimal fees for attendance, thanks in part to the federal Land Grant College Act of 1862. But now that’s “just history.” The University of California, founded in 1868, was tuition-free until the 1980s. Today, that university estimates that an in-state student’s annual cost for tuition, room, board, books, and related items is $35,300; for an out-of-state student, it’s $64,300.
Not surprisingly, far fewer students now attend college. Between the fall of 2010 and the fall of 2018, college and university enrollment in the United States plummeted by two million students.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 13th in its percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who have some kind of college or university credentials, lagging behind South Korea, Russia, Lithuania, and other nations.
Furthermore, among those American students who do manage to attend college, the soaring cost of higher education is channeling them away from their studies and into jobs that will help cover their expenses. As a Georgetown University report has revealed, more than 70 percent of American college students hold jobs while attending school. Indeed, 40 percent of U.S. undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week at these jobs, and 25 percent of employed students work full-time.
Such employment, of course, covers no more than a fraction of the enormous cost of a college education; therefore, students are forced to take out loans and incur very substantial debt to banks and other lending institutions.
In 2017, roughly 70 percent of students reportedly graduated from college with significant debt. According to published reports, in 2018, over 44 million Americans collectively held nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. The average student loan borrower had $37,172 in student loans a $20,000 increase from 13 years before.
Why are students facing these barriers to a college education? Are the expenses for maintaining a modern college or university that much greater now than in the past?
Certainly not when it comes to faculty. After all, tenured faculty and faculty in positions that can lead to tenure have increasingly been replaced by miserably-paid adjunct and contingent instructors migrant laborers who now constitute about three-quarters of the instructional faculty at U.S. colleges and universities. Adjunct faculty paid a few thousand dollars per course, often fall below the official federal poverty line. As a result, about a quarter of them receives public assistance, including food stamps.
By contrast, higher education’s administrative costs are substantially greater than in the past, both because of the vast multiplication of administrators and their soaring incomes. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in 2016 (the last year for which figures are available), there were 73 private and public college administrators with annual compensation packages that ran from $1 million to nearly $5 million each.
Even so, the major factor behind the disastrous financial squeeze upon students and their families is the cutback in government funding for higher education.
According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2008 and 2017 states cut their annual funding for public colleges by nearly $9 billion (after adjusting for inflation).
Of the 49 states studied, 44 spent less per student in the 2017 school year than in 2008. Given the fact that states and to lesser extent localities covered most of the costs of teaching and instruction at these public colleges, the schools made up the difference with tuition increases, cuts to educational or other services, or both.
For example, SUNY, New York State’s large public university system, remained tuition-free until 1963, but thereafter, students and their parents were forced to shoulder an increasing percentage of the costs. This process accelerated from 2007-2008 to 2018-2019, when annual state funding plummeted from $1.36 billion to $700 million. As a result, student tuition now covers nearly 75 percent of the operating costs of the state’s four-year public colleges and university centers. This is not atypical.
This government disinvestment in public higher education reflects the usual pressure from the wealthy and their conservative allies to slash taxes for the rich and reduce public services.
“We used to tax the rich and invest in public goods like affordable higher education,” one observer remarked. “Today, we cut taxes on the rich and then borrow from them.”
Of course, it’s quite possible to make college affordable once again. The United States is far wealthier now than in the past, with a bumper crop of excessively rich people who could be taxed for this purpose.
Beginning with his 2016 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders has called for the elimination of undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges, plus student loan reforms, funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation. More recently, Elizabeth Warren has championed a plan to eliminate the cost of tuition and fees at public colleges, as well as to reduce student debt, by establishing a small annual federal wealth tax on households with fortunes of over $50 million.
Certainly, something should be done to restore Americans’ right to an affordable college education.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).

Proud father boasts of daughter’s achievements

By Tamas Mondovics

Considering that thousands of students across the state and the nation enjoyed the spotlight, Lauren Mackenzie Souder graduation from Cocke County High School in Newport, Tennessee last month may not be all that special to most.
But to Sauder’s parents, Julie and Steve Sauder, a former Johnson County resident whose brother and parents still live in the county, this event is extra special, and for a good reason.
For starters, Mackenzie, the granddaughter of Spencer and Cathy Souder of Laurel Bloomery, graduated third in her class of 279 with a 4.42 G.P.A. as an A.P. Scholar, member of the National Honors Society and Treasurer of the National Beta Club.
She was a member of the Advanced Choir for three years and has earned 30 college credits during her high school career.
In addition to her excellent performance in the classroom, Mackenzie excelled in athletics as a three-sport athlete playing on the Varsity basketball team for four years, starting at point guard for three of those years.
“She led her team in assists and serving as a captain in her senior season,” Steve proudly said, while adding that Mackenzie enjoyed the spotlight as an All-Conference performer in Soccer, scoring more than 50 goals in her career.
“She was captain for three years, named first-team All-Conference for three years, and capped off a remarkable career her Senior season being named the District 2 Class AA Soccer Forward of the Year,” he said.
The athletic accomplishments continue including Mackenzie’s spot on the track and field team, after qualifying for the Sectionals during her Junior and Senior seasons.
She also qualified in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, and the 4 x 100 relay her Junior year and in her Senior season, qualified for the 100-meter dash and tied the school record in the 200-meter dash.
But there is more. Mackenzie is a member of First Free Will Baptist Church in Newport and participates annually in the National C.T.S. Competitions that include Bible Bowl, Bible Memorization, Vocals, Duets, and Trios.
To assist her future endeavors, Mackenzie has received several scholarships, including the Presidential Academic Performance award to ETSU, the Richard and Peggy Harwood Memorial Scholarship, along with the J. Pritchard Barnes Memorial Scholarship. She plans to attend ETSU to study Accounting.
Great job Mackenzie.

Program focuses on training teachers on computation and STEM

Staff Report

JOHNSON CITY – Twelve teacher candidates from East Tennessee State University’s Clemmer College will spend the upcoming year as student teachers in a new curriculum that focuses on incorporating computation and digital
learning with STEM and language arts in elementary school classrooms.
The initiative is part of a new $665,887 project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Program called “Integrating STEM and Literacy with Computation in Elementary Education,” or iSLICEE.
Teachers from local school districts have been recruited for iSLICEE and will serve as mentors to these twelve students. This summer, the mentors will spend a week on campus learning best-practices and strategies for integrating coding, digital learning and the components of computational thinking into STEM and language arts curricula.
The educational experience will also be enhanced through the use of robotics for teaching coding.
This fall, the participating students will be assigned to one of the mentors during their year-long residency experience.
“We want our teacher candidates to not only be a generation of consumers of digital technology but also to have an understanding of how to use these tools to further computational thinking in the classrooms,” said Dr. Chih-Che Tai, principal investigator of the project and assistant director of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education.
For the past several years, Tai and his colleagues have led similar initiatives at ETSU that have provided training to elementary, middle and high school educators from the across the region on best-practices in teaching science, math and literature.
In addition to the grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center of
Excellence has received funding from the Tennessee
Department of Education and the Tennessee Higher
Education Commission.
The current iSLICEE
program is a joint effort
between the Clemmer College, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Graduate Studies and nine regional school districts.

Education and practices for economically smart farming

Submitted by
Sarah Ransom

Farming isn’t an easy profession.
However, education and some methods can assist in making production more lucrative and improve quality.
Producers in Tennessee have weathered many financially challenging years in the past, and current farmers will continue to farm and see many economic shifts.
For those looking into farming, be prepared to experience a vast variety of farming economics. Chuck Danehower, a farm management specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension, says younger farmers who hope to weather economic downturns would do well to learn from their elders.
Danehower shared six traits that financially successful farmers share,
“It might help some producers to adopt traits that have helped others survive and thrive,” Danehower said.
1. Successful producers develop a farm financial plan that includes estimated crop incomes and expenses and acreage plans. It also analyzes any potential changes in their operation. “Generally, depending on the operation, the plan will explore alternative acreages and price scenarios,” he said. The plans include building up capital reserves whenever possible. A rule of thumb is to have 20 percent to 25 percent of revenues as reserves with a goal of 33 percent. “A strong capital reserve position can go a long way toward reducing financial stress in operation,” he said.
2. Successful producers stick to the basics. “Tried, true and proven fertility programs along with sound varieties have allowed producers to make it through challenging years and they have helped enhance profits during good times,” Danehower said. “One of the most basic operations in a cropping program is soil testing. By using and following soil tests, the optimum amount of fertility can be employed for maximum economic yields.”
3. Successful producers select top varieties. “They choose carefully based on the correct environment, including weed, insect, and disease problems. They also monitor fields regularly,” Danehower said. Not only do producers have to apply the right control method, but it has to be done at the right time to be effective. “Keeping up to date production and financial records is a must in today’s operations,” he said.
4. Successful producers keep records. “Records can help a producer fine-tune operations. A thorough analysis of records can distinguish between crops that are making money and those that are not. Successful farmers are also constantly evaluating technology for what will work on their farm. It could be new genetics in varieties, precision agriculture applications or changes in equipment such as automatic section control on planters.
5. Successful producers do not worry about who owns an income-producing asset but whether it can increase their profits by using it. “In Tennessee center pivots have been installed in the last few years on leased ground where the producers may own only a portion of the system. It can make economic sense for both the landowner and producer to own the system, as long as both see an increase in income,” Danehower said.
6. Successful producers change or update their equipment only when it makes economic sense, not necessarily for income tax benefits. “The tax benefit derived from the Section 179 Deduction on purchased equipment may reduce taxes in that one year, but if it is purchased with borrowed money, the payments can continue for several years,” explained Danehower. “This can put a crimp in a cash flow plan.”
Danehower reminds all producers that decisions that are made and habits that are formed during profitable times have more potential to help you through challenging years that are sure to come.
UT/TSU Extension delivers educational programs
and research-based information to citizens throughout the state.

ETSU Professor Launches STEM Program in Libraries for Young Dual-Language Learners

Staff report

JOHNSON CITY – Learning experiences aimed at building skills in math, science and literacy are being introduced to children as early as preschool. Unfortunately, kids who are dual-language learners often fall behind their peers during these early stages.
A program created by an East Tennessee State University faculty member that helps preschool children and their families who speak Spanish is now being piloted here in
the Northeast Tennessee region.
“Young children who are dual-language learners are making up an increasingly large proportion of the early childhood classrooms across the nation,” said Dr. Alissa Lange, an associate professor of early childhood education in the Clemmer College.
While living in New Jersey, Lange established the Math and Science Story Time (MASST) program which is a library-based early education initiative for students and parents. The program has shown to be effective in increasing children’s knowledge of key math and science concepts as well as informing family members about quality books and activities within these fields.
Previous evaluations of MASST have been in large urban settings, but through a grant from the university’s Research and Development Committee (RDC), Lange is administering the program in areas surrounding ETSU, including the Johnson City Public Library.
MASST involves eight sessions: four dedicated to math and four for science.
“We offer a lot of different activities and stories for the kids during the program and there are opportunities for the parents to get involved as well and to reinforce these exercises at home,” Lange said. “The children are given a series of Spanish-language books to take home.”
Johnson City Public Library ran MASST last summer with RDC funding and during the winter with funding from the Friends of the Library.
JCPL will start a third series of MASST on May 14 at 6 p.m. Lange is looking to take MASST into other local communities in partnership with the Holston River Regional Library.
She is the co-author of the new book, “Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom” published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University.

Johnson County 4-H students showcase skills at sub-regional competition

Pictured L-R: (front) Brookelyn Lawley, Gavin Curd, Brylee Gentry, Shayla Sileo, Chole Sutherland (back) Jocelyn Stout, Landell Walker, Joshua Ransom, and Dalton Ward. Photo submitted

Submitted by
Danielle Pleasant

Winners of the county achievement contest were invited to attend the sub-regional Upper 8 Achievement Day competition on Thursday, May 9, in Bulls Gap.
Students from eight Upper East Tennessee counties showcased their knowledge and skills with demonstrations and tabletop exhibits ranging the twenty-six 4-H project areas.
From clothing to cows and food to forestry, our students’ exhibited their very best project work.
“We are so proud of our youth and their accomplishments,” said Danielle Pleasant with UT/TSU Extension – Johnson County.
“They have worked hard to
get to this level of
winning first in their classroom competition, then again at the county level.”
Pleasant said that the group showcased the talents and skills of nine dedicated 4-H’ers that traveled to
the competition and represented Johnson County
“Congratulations to all our winners and a special thanks to all the parents and supporters of our youth and 4-H program,” she said.
In the 4th grade, division participants include: Brylee Gentry placing 1st in Line and Design and Gavin Curd placing 1st in Performing Arts and Recreation
In the 5th grade, division participants include Dalton Ward placing 1st in Beef; Brookelyn Lawley placing 2nd in Clothing and Textiles; Chloe Sutherland placing
1st Companion Animal; Shayla Sileo placing 1st in Food Science and Jocelyn Stout placing 2nd in Line and Design.
In the 6th-8th grade,
division participants include: Joshua Ransom placing 1st in Citizenship and Landell Walker placing 1st in forestry, wildlife, and fisheries.

TVA supports Johnson County STEM efforts

Press release

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded two Johnson County Schools, Roan Creek Elementary two $2,500 grants and Shady Valley Elementary School a $5,000 grant for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education projects.
The grant award is part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.
Across the Valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom.
The project that Roan Creek Elementary that Rob Timbs and Amber Greever will be using the grants for will incorporate the use of K’NEX and Sphero Bolt robotic educational kits.
The students will use the kits to learn how to code, create, and design structures to solve real-world problems associated with engineering.
The students will also identify and demonstrate how technology can be used for different purposes and recognize that energy is present when objects move and convert energy from one form to another.
According to Glenda Harris, a teacher at Shady Valley Elementary, their school will use the funds to study conservation efforts and wetlands, including the Nature Conservancy School Yard Springs, located behind the school. Ms. Amy Lashlee will also be assisting with the program as well.
The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000, and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem-solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“The goal of the program was to help further STEM education across the Valley,” said Crickmar. “We knew this program would be popular and competitive, and now we’re are looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity.
In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation, and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job
A full list of the grant recipients can be found at www.tvastem.com.

Lily Savery is Laurel Student of the week

Lily Savery is Laurel Elementary’s student of the week. She is the daughter of Clay and Patricia Savery. She is 6 years old and in kindergarten. Her favorite thing about school is learning.
She says her favorite subject is math because it is so easy for her and she loves it! Lily would like to be a Youtuber with her friend Kaylee when she grows up. Lily says she is a Laurel leader because she likes to take care of people.
Photo Submitted

Lily Savery is Laurel Student of the week

Johnson County Schools officials are proud of their students including Haxlee Kline and Serena Leonard who are just two of the members of the ACT 30+ club. Several students were unable to attend the JCS board meeting due to other obligations but all have earned respect and recognition for their hard work and accomplishments. Online Photos

Comptroller’s Office Studies Teacher Salaries In Tennessee

Press Release

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a report examining how money intended to boost teacher salaries has been used by local school districts. More than $300 million in new, recurring state dollars was appropriated by the General Assembly though the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP) between fiscal years 2016 and 2018. The legislative intent for the increased state funding was to increase teacher salaries across Tennessee.
The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) surveyed Tennessee’s school districts, and the majority of respondents reported awarding salary increases to teachers for three consecutive years (fiscal years 2016, 2017, and 2018). Those pay raises resulted in an increase of Tennessee’s average classroom teacher salary of 6.2 percent (just under $3,000), making it the third fastest-growing state in the Southeast for teacher salaries during fiscal years 2015 through 2018.
In addition to providing raises, districts also used increased state BEP instructional salaries funds to hire more instructional staff.
OREA found that while total local revenue budgeted for school districts increased at about the same rate as BEP state revenue, salary expenditures (whether for new hires or raises) could not be linked back to their revenue source, either state or local. District budgets do not identify what portion of expenditures are paid with state funds versus local funds.
The state’s main lever for increasing state funding for salaries – the BEP formula’s salary unit cost figure – is not directly linked to pay raises for every teacher. The increased funding generated through the salary unit cost is applied only to BEP-calculated positions; most districts fund additional positions. Because districts employ more staff than are covered by BEP funding, the available state and local dollars earmarked for salaries must stretch over more teachers than the staff positions generated by the BEP.
OREA examined district expenditures and found that, statewide, districts increased spending for instructional salaries and health insurance by about 9 percent while spending on retirement increased about 8 percent. At the individual district level, the growth in salary expenditures varied, from a decrease of 10 percent to an increase of over 26 percent.
The Comptroller’s report includes policy considerations addressing how the state may wish to
implement an in-depth salary survey of selected districts to periodically obtain a more complete picture of district salary trends, as well as
develop a process to determine which districts are eligible for a separate state allocation of salary equity funding,
intended to raise teacher salaries in select districts with lower-than-average salaries.
To read the Comptroller’s report, please visit https://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA