Spring registration opens today for soph, tomorrow for freshmen

Registration for the Spring 2019 semester at Volunteer State Community College opened for sophomores and veterans (regardless of their academic year) this morning.

Freshman registration will open tomorrow morning.

“Its an opportunity for current Vol State students to get the classes they need before registration opens to the general public,” said Tim Amyx, the college’s Registrar and Director of Admissions.

Registration for new Vol State students will begin Monday, Nov. 18.

The spring semester will begin Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

According to Amyx, certain classes are hard to get. “Our anatomy and physiology classes always fill up first,” he said. “That’s because those classes are required by our nursing department.”

Amyx said that, because of the limited number of seats available, all of the Vol State science classes tend to fill up fast. Because they are required for virtually every degree or transfer program the college offers, English composition classes also tend to be in short supply said Amyx.

“Returning students should see their advisors to help them select classes before enrolling,” he said.

Students registering for the the Spring semester must select the My VolState link from the college’s home page.

The next step is to select the Pride Online Tab, click the “Add or Drop Classes” link and then select the term for which to be registered.

A screen containing the various Vol State campus sites will then be displayed. Students should select only the campuses which they wish to attend before clicking on the Save and Continue button.

Students then will be presented with a screen displaying the course plan they worked out with their advisor (however, they may have to load courses from your plan to the courses list).

Clicking the “Generate Schedules” button will create a series of schedules from which the student can select.

The selected schedule will be sent to the shopping cart by clicking the corresponding button. To finalize the registration process, click the “Registration” button and the schedule will appear on the Current Schedule page.

Returning to the “Pride Online” tab and selecting the “Concise Student Schedule” link will make the schedule available for printing or viewing.

Once registration is complete, clicking the “Account Summary” link will take the student to a page containing a bill and statement of fees.

The bill and fees can be paid online by Visa, Visa Check Card or MasterCard.

Once the transactions have been completed, the student needs to logout of the My VolState and then the Student Logout screens to complete their session.

Library will host “Story Slam” this Thursday

By Luis Quintanilla

Volunteer State Community College will host Story Slam on Nov. 7th on the Gallatin Campus. The event will take place in the Rochelle Center in the Thigpen Library from 11 a.m. to noon.

During the event, students will be able to tell two to four-minute personal stories for a chance to walk away with a prize. The audience will vote on the best stories, with the first-place winner winning $75 and the second place winner winning $50.

This will be the third Story Slam at Vol State. It will also be the third year the event will be emceed by Jon Goode, an Emmy nominated poet and playwright. Attendees will be able to enjoy snacks and refreshments while listening to the stories.

According to Tabitha Sherrel, coordinator of student activities, the event is a collaboration between the Office of Student Engagement and Support and the Communications Department at Vol State.

“The communications department had the idea. They came in with the concept and then we helped them make it happen,” said Sherrel.

The two faculty members who came up with the idea for the Story Slam were Shellie Michael and Sheri Waltz, communication faculty members.

“When you come in you can kind of choose to be just an audience member, eat some cookies, and sit down, or you can actually choose to present. If you want to you sign your name,” said Waltz. She stated that if there is an overflow of people signing up, names will be drawn or if not they will just be called up.

“They just tell their story. We all laugh, cry, clap, and at the end we vote. Of course, the audience gets just a chance to be together. There’s food so that always makes it nice so you can

swing by. You don’t have to be there the whole time. You can come for a little bit, and you can leave,” explained Waltz.

The theme of this year’s Story Slam revolves around stories of being thankful. However, Waltz said the theme is ultimately secondary, the main drive is to get people to comfortably open up and share their stories.

“The point of the whole thing is for you to connect with your neighbor,” said Waltz. “Ultimately any story will do because the whole point is just to meet each other. Just to talk and have an opportunity to share something that happened to you and have other people connect with you,” stated Waltz.

Waltz said some people may share gut wrenching and emotional stories, while others will tell stories of things like going sledding with family or other casual stories. “The person can really talk about the things they want. So students who want to open up about deeper things do, and the students who don’t, don’t. It doesn’t matter because as the human race we just love stories. We listen to them. We connect with them, and we’re just drawn to them. So even stories that might be more trivial in nature are still fun to listen to. We like them. It allows even the most shy student find some avenue to connect,” said Waltz.

“Be surprised. Last year the winner was someone who was walking by and saw the food and said ‘Hey what’s going on’ and we said, ‘Oh we’re telling stories,’ and she came up, told a story, and she was the winner. So not only did she get free food. She also won money,” remarked Waltz.

The idea for the Story Slam was birthed in Michael’s and Waltz’s classrooms. The two saw the disconnection among students and their experience at college and decided the remedy to this was storytelling.

“One of the things we have found not only at community colleges but across colleges across the state and across the nation is that students just are disconnected,” said Waltz. Waltz said a few years ago she began teaching a class and she had asked the students their biggest disappointments.

“It broke my heart that the majority of them said that they just don’t have friends. They just go to class, and they leave. There’s just no real way to connect, so Shellie and I started talking about it,” said Waltz. Waltz admitted, even though students may not always be inclined to take public speaking classes, the classes her and Michael teach, they attempted to find a way to ingrate the public speaking skills students were learning with more personal connections.

The answer to this they found was storytelling.

“Students get an opportunity to talk about themselves and what they’ve gone through, and they get to hear from each other and hear other students that have done the same thing maybe handled it differently. They get to practice empathy. They get to laugh. They get to cry. They get to be shocked. They get to be sad. All of those things,” said Waltz. In Waltz’s class, the very first speech students give are short personal stories in front of the class. Waltz said the results of this were evident in the classroom and then in the course evaluations given by students at the end of the semester.

“They get to know eachother and I hear them talking about how much they like the classroom environment and about how this is the only class where they know the people who are sitting next to them, or this is the only class where they can name everybody’s name. To me that is attributed to that that we spend time in the beginning of our class learning public speaking skills, but we do it in a way that allows the audience to connect with each other,” said Waltz. “They write about it in their evaluations at the end of the semester. It is by far the number one thing that

is commented on in the evaluation, and it is commented about how positive that experience was for them to write about themselves and for them to talk about themselves and them to listen to their peers about things that happened,” explained Waltz.

After its success in the classroom, Waltz and Michael wanted to make it across the campus, which is where the Story Slam came from.

“It is really about finding ways for our students on this campus to build relationships so that they feel a sense of connection so that they know that they matter and that what they’re doing here matters and that eventually it’ll lead to graduation. For us in public speaking it makes a lot of sense because we can teach it in the classroom, but at the end of the day whether you ever taken the public speaking class or not, stories are integral to who we are. You don’t even have to be a public speaking student to do this. It’s just fun for everybody. That’s why we thought a campus-wide event would make sense. We wanted this to be more relaxed. About us just being a part of the Vol State community. You know and getting a chance to share who you are and how people respond positively to that. It feels nice,” remarked Waltz.

When college is about learning, not money

To life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which Thomas Jefferson asserted are the unalienable rights of every man we would like to humbly add education.

Educators have been revered since the time of Plato, Socrates, and Jesus and those who impart their knowledge and wisdom to others are certainly following one of mankind’s noblest callings.

And while the idea of gathering teachers in one place where they can interact with their students is undoubtedly a good one, that idea begins to falter once the students stop being viewed as students and begin to be viewed instead as income streams for what has become the big business of education.

We have mentioned in this space before, the unregulated money grab that is the educational publishing industry, but the visit to the Volunteer State Community College campus by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) opened our eyes to another such scam which will be perpetrated on future generations of Vol State students.

Apparently, SACS has declared that student retention is an issue (yes, if the students leave school, the school no longer receives grant, loan or personal monies for tuition, books and fees) and thus has decreed that schools will take actions to encourage students to stay enrolled.

Vol State will be implementing two courses which all incoming students will be required to take (oh and by the way, pay for too).

Designated FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1030, the courses will, according to Vol State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP),” provide students with the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”

This is the sheerest form of gobbledy-gook.

At what point did it become the college’s responsibility to teach rudimentary skills such as note taking, studying, and even the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to incoming students.?

In fact, it is the responsibility of high schools (or even earlier) to prepare students for higher education.

And while encouraging students to want to go to college is certainly within the purview of community and regular colleges (remember that crop of money to be harvested from each pupil?) the fact is that not everyone is cut out to attend college.

Yes, the world needs doctors and lawyers, but it also needs plumbers, electricians and construction workers (and in greater numbers than it does the doctors and lawyers) too.

It was suggested earlier that education should be made one of those unalienable rights which Jefferson wrote about, but that education does not always have to end in a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.

Earning knowledge to live one’s life does not always have to consist of writing research papers and cramming all night for tests.

The knowledge which will enable one to make a respectful living can also be acquired by serving an apprenticeship or in the armed forces.

By definition, most of the students at an institute of higher learning are adults, ergo, they should be treated as such.

Students who are motivated enough to enroll and attend, certainly should know how to take notes, read and even maintain a check-book.

Yes, many of the students arriving on the Vol State campus lack those skills, but when did it become the college’s responsibility to instill them.

That is the job of Tennessee’s high (and even middle) schools.

Students should not graduate from high school until they are capable of reading critically, writing an appropriate analysis of written material and performing rudimentary mathematical calculations.

These are the baseline skills needed for the successful attendance at an institute of higher learning.

Accepting students without these skills is nothing short of theft and a waste of those students’ time.

Forcing them to attend FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1040 is just adding insult to injury by sucking more money from the unsuspecting marks.

Instead of conning these unprepared students out of their money, Vol State should be honest with them, tell them they aren’t prepared for college and that they should come back once they have acquired the appropriate skills to succeed in the college environment.

Vol State student wins speech award

By Fay Kabasu

Mackenzie Johnston, a sophomore at Volunteer State Community College, has received the “Light of Hope” speech award from the Court of Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA).

CASA is a community-involved program that provides support for neglected and abused children. According to CASA, there are 31 programs in 58 counties in Tennessee with nearly 1,000 community volunteers.

“Of all CASA children. 90 percent do not re-enter the child welfare system,” said Johnson.

Johnston, born and raised in Rockdale, Georgia, grew up with a complicated relationship with her biological family.

This resulted in her moving to Franklin, Tennessee to live with her grandmother when she was 16 years old. Johnston soon found herself in the wrong crowd.

“I got into some trouble while my grandmother was out of town, she later turned me over to the state’s custody. She decided she didn’t have the structure to help me with my problems,” said Johnston.

Though Johnston was in a predicament, she was then introduced to members of CASA and sent to foster homes to recover from her past.

On the importance of CASA in her life, Johnston said, “Having a CASA in my life, at this point, was a necessity, because companionship and a genuine connection was exactly what I needed. I felt powerless and alone in my situation, like I had to face the whole world by myself. That was until my CASA came into my life and provided much needed clarity in a time of need.”

When asked how she felt receiving the award, Johnston said, “When I was told that CASA wanted to give me the Light of Hope award, I was shocked and so excited. “I’ve come so far in the past few years and I plan to persevere through whatever life throws my way. This is the start of something amazing. I plan to advocate for CASA and tell my story for years to come.”

Johnston, who is now 19-years-old, is majoring in general studies, but seeks to switch to mass communications.

“All my life I’ve never really known what I wanted to do, until recently, I realized that communicating with people is what I enjoy most and what I’m best at”, said Johnston.

Johnston decided to stay with her current foster home. She is currently an employee at Mister Car Wash, where she gets to work and communicate with people every day. On her free time, she enjoys her “happy place” which, to her, is nature.

Mackenzie Johntson, along with Court of Appointed Special Advocate for Children repersentative Lynn Flower

Mackenzie Johntson, along with Court of Appointed Special Advocate for Children repersentative Lynn Flower

Faulkner, cabinet address student concerns at forum

By Randall Barnes

Volunteer State Community College President Dr. Jerry Faulkner and his cabinet addressed questions from the Student Government Association and Vol State Students during Faulkner’s quarterly forum Thursday.

Questions such as, “Why was the switch to Outlook made during the middle of the semester?”—and—”Will privacy walls be added to the Maddix Building’s men’s bathroom?”—were answered during last week’s forum.

Before the forum began, President of the SGA, Preston Tatum, handed out slips that had written on them directions for submitting a question, annonymously. The slips read, “Ask Dr. Faulkner, the president of VSCC, and his cabinet questions anonymously from your phone! Step #1 go to www.slids.com. Step #2: type in the event code (8484). Step #3: submit questions about the campus!”

The Speaker, SGA Attorney General Debera Bennett, started the event by introducing the president and his cabinet members.

The president and his cabinet sat no more than six feet away from the Student Government Association and spoke into microphones placed on cobalt-blue table covers. Faulkner’s cabinet is comprised of Beth Carpenter, Vice President for Business and Finance; Emily Short, Vice President for Student Services; George Pimentel, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Colette Cantania, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, Planning and Assessment. Faulkner sat in the middle of them.

After the introduction, the first question was asked: “Can privacy walls be added to the men’s bathroom in the Maddox Building?” Short answered, saying that it was next on the priority list.

Afterward, the question, “Gravel parking lots were used in the past, before parking lots were able to be built. Will those that remain share the same fate? Carpenter confirmed this should be the case.

One asked if one could opt out of ebooks. Pimentel answered yes after putting forth a joke that evoked laughter from over half the dining room. Pimentel wished this to be emphasized, stating, “You can opt out of DEI (digital books) if it is not an integrated product. For example: you can’t opt out of MY MATH LAB Plus; it does not have an alternative.”

A student’s question: ‘Is there a cheat sheet offered for classes? As in, a cheat sheet offered as a guide for navigating the difficulties of choosing a class based on each one’s difficulty.’ Pimentel answered, saying that class difficulty is subjective. Faulkner used an anecdote to deepen the point made, as well as—one assumes—to show that he understands.

One student inquired about the possibility of a recreational room being added in the future. It was stated that it will be looked into, but priorities are important.

“Why was the switch made to Outlook from Gmail made in the middle of the semester?” The switch was intentional, one cabinet member said stating that if the switch had been made during the summer, then some, if not many, would have been unaware of what to do or if it even happened, or that switch would have been too strong of a switch, sending some students into ewhiplash.

“Why can’t laptops be used to take notes in every class?” asked one student.

Carpenter expressed happiness in a question being asked that said, essentially, ‘Can the Vol State logo be added areas of common social gatherings to make this place more inviting?’ Despite this, the answer was that it’s not cost-effective, due to the permanence of the placement, and the

impermanence of the logo itself. She stated that the cabinet is very interested in hearing more ideas to increase school spirit, though.

“Can we get an ATM, preferably no-surcharge, on campus?’ Carpenter said that it has been tried, but the banks asked for too much. There may be another attempt, but it will be difficult to get no-surcharge.

“Can the Grill get a menu for items without noted cost? Who prices the food, there?” The provider sets the price—not Vol State. Menus may come along, but it was suggested for one to go elsewhere if too expensive.

“Can a meal ticket system be set up for The Feed?” One cabinet member replied, “It would be difficult, because we don’t know what he or she is going to get, so we don’t know what the price them as.”

Speaker Debera Bennett expressed indignation at the state of the tables and microwaves, saying immediately that the question, “Who wipes the tables and cleans the microwaves?” was hers. “They’re all disgusting. And they pose a health issue.”

The provider is responsible for cleaning, said Carpenter. The cabinet was told they were being cleaned five times a day. “If that isn’t happening, we can have another conversation,” said Carpenter. “The microwaves’ conditions are unacceptable,” said Short. “We’ll figure out some fix.”

“What are other ways for clubs to affect the community?” “That’s a good question,” said Short. “Donation drives, fundraisers, whatever may help the community.” Donation drives are encouraged. Students were encouraged to talk to Tabitha Sherrell if there are any more questions pertaining to that subject.

“Can campus events be expanded to offer students that have class during those times?” Essentially, the answer is they will see what they can do. On the issue of students having time for clubs and SGA, Pimentel wrote later, “In regards to students having time for clubs and SGA: beginning Fall 2020—the time period of 11:20-12:45 (MTWT) will not have courses for which there is only one section available.”

There was an activity hour. One student asked, “What happened to it? Why don’t we have it anymore?” “This is a common question: it issues all the way back to 1989,” said Faulkner, as he peered at a paper perhaps relevant to that statement. Apparently, most students didn’t want one, because they wanted to take classes during that time. “Its better to notify than take that opportunity away.”

Referring to the inquiry made into the possibility of a soccer team being added, one cabinet member said that “it’s best to ask Coach Hudson about it. There used to be one, but student interest fell rapidly. He is working on it. But cost and interest are both important problems, now. But there can be further discussion about that.”

“Some new programs won’t be supported on these old computers. Will we soon get replacements?” Cantania said to contact tech support if its a problem. She asked those that have problems, to let them know.

That was the last question asked and answered aloud. The forum ended shortly after it was answered. The Student Government Association discussed the answers Friday, last week. If there are any more questions, one may contact a cabinet member via their respective email addresses found on Vol State’s website. The same may be done for the SGA.