Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vol State in the News

We're making a push to make senior citizens aware of a long-time state law that gives them low cost access to college classes if they are 65 years or older. We're calling it Senior College. Here's the story in the Hartsville Vidette.

Charles Alexander with the TSBDC at Vol State is quoted in a Tennessean article about the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Welcome the High School Equivalency and EL/Civics Staff to Vol State

Vol State high school equivalency staff in their new home at the college. Left to right: June Spears, instructor; Tammy Wade, paraprofessional; Debbie Thomson, paraprofessional; and Franklin Dee Johnson, supervisor.
The move has been completed and operations for Sumner County High School Equivalency (also known as GED prep) and the EL/Civics program are up and running at Vol State. The College manages the Sumner and Macon County Adult Education programs, formerly coordinated through the Sumner County and Macon County Boards of Education. The primary classes offered are high school equivalency courses, designed to get people ready to take the GED high school equivalency exam. Vol State also has English Literacy/Civics education (EL/Civics) courses for speakers of other languages. EL/Civics combines English language learning with information about the United States government and American society. The college took on the programs to serve the community and provide a direct pathway for education.

“There are about 22 thousand people in Sumner and Macon counties who do not have a high school diploma or equivalency,” said Adult Education Supervisor, Franklin Dee Johnson. “They need one to be successful in the working world. The job market is extremely limited for people without a high school diploma.”

The High School Equivalency and EL Civics programs are free. Currently EL/Civics is only available in Sumner County. The Macon County location is up and running, as well, and has Lafayette resident June Spears as instructor. Assistant vice president for Continuing Education, Hilary Marabeti, says the college plans to grow the Sumner and Macon county programs to include a clear path to college.

“We’re bringing the services of the college into the classrooms,” Marabeti said. “We want to get the high school equivalency and EL/Civics students ready for college and ready for the workplace. We will bring that information and show those opportunities to the students.”

Classes are offered during the day and in the evening at various times in both Sumner and Macon Counties. The Sumner offices are located on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin in the Warf Building Room 126. The phone number is 230-3621. Macon County classes are held at the Adult Education Center, located behind the Macon County Schools offices at 501 College Street in Lafayette.  The phone number for the Macon County Center is 615-666-2125.

For more information visit


Vol State Vet Tech Has New Director

Hope Wright knows how hard it can be getting the right staff for a veterinary practice. The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) has 18 years of experience in private practice. Now she will be leading the Veterinary Technology program at Vol State.

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Vet Tech is one of the fastest growing job fields in the United States,” said Wright. “We have a lot of clinics in Middle Tennessee that need certified veterinary technicians.”

The certification part is no small matter. Wright says that many vets have to train their own clinic staff, sometimes for many years. Vol State students prepare for certification exams as part of the program. They also have extensive clinical work in practices all over the area, including the Nashville Zoo, Nashville Veterinary Specialties and Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Medicine in Brentwood.

“The big thing we’re trying to do is to give the vets an employee that is already trained. And our vet techs have not only the training, but also the overall foundation of knowledge, so they’re ready to go when they walk in the door for that first job.”

Wright most recently taught as a faculty member in the Vol State program and ran Wright Veterinary Services in White House. She was also the owner of the Animal Medical Clinic in Lake Park, Florida for eleven years.

Vol State offers certificate and associate of applied science degree programs in Veterinary Technology. The program has provisional accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). For more information about Vet Tech at Vol State visit or call 230-3261.

Vol State Has New Non-Credit Health Care Programs

Health care education can be competitive for students applying to an Allied Health major and current health care workers looking for a new field. Vol State has several new health care educational programs that can help. The college wants to provide alternatives for Vol State students who didn’t make it into traditional Allied Health programs and health care workers interested in upgrading skills. The programs come in a variety of options and specialties, including credit and non-credit.

Students looking for a quick path into health care can consider the non-credit Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Massage Therapy programs. Certified Medical Assistant takes just five months to complete and Massage Therapy nine months. A special information session for these programs is coming up on Tuesday, August 13 at 6 p.m. in the 300 building, classroom 101, on the Vol State East Campus, just off Gap Blvd and Nashville Pike in Gallatin. Non-credit programs can help people prepare for careers, but they don’t count as college academic credit towards a degree.

Other new non-credit programs include Phlebotomy, the collection of blood in medical settings, Emergency Medical Dispatch, Patient Care Technician and ECG Technician. The electrocardiograph technician is responsible for operating equipment that measures patients' heart. Patient care technicians perform tasks a patient cannot do for themselves, such as eating, getting out of bed, and taking a bath.  These shorter, non-credit programs, are designed to train students for certification, needed to practice and move up in the field.

Students may also want to consider a relatively new field: Medical Informatics. The job combines computer skills with medical information and has become quite important, considering the national shift to electronic medical records. There are two concentrations: Developer and Technologist. Vol State offers a two-year Medical Informatics associate of applied science degree, which is an academic credit program.

Publicity of the programs is included in a grant program here at Vol State called RX Tennessee. Jackie Waters is the grant coordinator and will be working closely with the Health Sciences Center of Emphasis and Allied Health Division. Contact Jackie Waters at or 230-3610.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dr. Faulkner: Speaking to the Graduates

I had the great privilege to speak at the Sumner and Robertson County GED graduation ceremonies this year.  What I said to those graduates could just have easily been said to our students.  Here is what I said to those graduates:

Thank you for the invitation to speak and thank you graduates for letting me a part of your celebration today.

Congratulation to all the graduates.  I know this is a special time in your life because it marks a milestone in your journey and in your personal story.

I like stories particularly true life stories.

As I look out at you today, I know each of you has an individual story of how you came to this point in your life.  I wish we had the time today to hear from each of you.  Some of your stories involve unique circumstances.  All likely involve a series of choices – some good, some not so good.  Some of your stories may have elements of tragedy, sadness, and disappointment.  Some may be humorous even though at the time you didn’t feel like laughing. 

There is a country song titled Crooked Road.  It is not the currently popular Rascal Flat’s song about the broken road, but by an artist named Darrell Scott.  The chorus goes like this:

I walk a crooked road to get where I am going
To get where I am going I must walk a crooked road
And only when I’m looking back I see the straight and narrow
I see the straight and narrow when I walk a crooked road

While your journey to this place, to this time, to this accomplishment may have seemed like a crooked road, as you look back I hope you can see the straight and narrow that brought you here.

In this most recent chapter of your story, I don’t know what motivated you to want to get your diploma.  Maybe you were motivated by the desire for a better job.  Maybe you wanted a better life for you and your family.  Maybe you wanted to be an example for your children.

What ever your motivation, you are to be commended for your accomplishment.  I know the family and friends that have come today to celebrate with you are proud of you.

The things you have learned, the skills you have acquired will serve you well in the future.

But beyond the new found knowledge – the math and reading, and writing – science and social studies - beyond the subjects that you studied, - beyond the computer skills that you acquired, I suspect you have learned much about your self.

You have learned to persevere – to finish what you start.

You have learned to overcome the voices of doubt that said, “you are too old to be doing this” or, “you can’t do it” or that “you aren’t smart enough.”  Regardless if those voices were internal or external, you didn’t listen to the negative voices and you overcame.

You learned that fear will not stop you - that you can conquer your fears.

You have learned that though some times it is hard, you can work your way through the hard times to meet your goals.

You learned that you can succeed, that you can accomplish what ever you set your mind to.

And perhaps most importantly you have learned that you are not just a character swept along by fate or chance but you are the author of your own story.

And so my wish for you is that the accomplishment of today will just be the first step in a successful life.

One of the verses from Crooked Road says

I long to be a happy man, in this life that I’ve been given
In this life that I’ve been given I long to be a happy man.
When the noise turns to stillness, I see I have the makings.
I see I have the makings to be one happy man.

The accomplishment you celebrate today demonstrates that you do have the makings to be one happy man or one happy woman.

Now that you know your capabilities, I hope you have plans to continue your education.  Just a few days ago I read the story of a young woman from Meridian, MS.  Her name is Krista Lebrun and her story was titled from “GED to PhD.”  She went from high school drop out to a professor at the community college where she received her GED.  I hope I will see some of you on the campus of Volunteer State Community College this Fall.  When that happens, I hope you will stop me and remind me of our meeting today.

In conclusion, let me congratulate you again.  These ceremonies are known as commencements because it marks a beginning of the next phase of your life.  I’m confident the next chapter in your story will be a great one.  I can’t wait to hear it.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Big Step Forward for the Learning Commons

This summer marks a major milestone for the college. After years of planning and hard work, the Learning Commons began operation in the new location in the Thigpen Library. It’s much more than a major construction project; it’s the next step in an entire sea-change for developmental learning at Vol State. That work began as a major redesign of curriculum and course delivery, now known as Learning Support. The Learning Commons is the new home for Learning Support classes and much more.

Let’s take a look at the most obvious change first. The new Learning Commons space, located on the first floor of the Thigpen Library is bigger, brighter and designed for learning. Careful consideration was given (and often debated) over the type of tables used and the set-up of the room.  Sure, there are lots of computers, but those computers are positioned to help the interaction between students and instructors. Students may not see that at first, but they certainly notice the change.

“It’s spectacular,” said Keri Williams. “It’s so much better. It’s much more user friendly. It’s really comfortable over here.”

“This is a lot more spacious,” said Jean Ingram. Of course, with the accolades come suggestions. “I wish there were blinds on the windows (looking out into the library), so I don’t get distracted.”

And debate over those suggestions. “I’m the opposite, I like looking out,” said Williams. “We’d all like to see refreshments.”

And refreshments, especially coffee, are on the way. It’s part of the effort to make the Learning Commons seem like a learning home for students.

“My goal is that a student who comes in here will feel comfortable and welcome,” said Learning Commons director, Kay Dayton. “I think the students like having a one-stop shop. They can work on math and then switch to reading or English.”

The Learning Commons finally combines Learning Support math, reading and English in one location. They have been scattered around campus in various rooms. The transition is also the next step in a several year process of turning the NewSkills staff into the Learning Commons staff.

“It’s all falling into place,” said Kenny Westmoreland, developmental reading and writing specialist. “It’s gone from being something small to being a reckoning force- it gets bigger every year. We’re seeing many more students this summer.”

The real test will come this fall when the new Learning Commons location goes to full operation.

“At the beginning of the semester it’s a little bit of chaos showing a whole new group of students a new process,” said Dayton.

Those students will be able to do more than just Learning Support classwork at the Learning Commons. It’s envisioned as a clearing house for information about all sorts of student academic support, including Smarthinking and other College Success Zone programs.

“The students won’t have to run around campus,” said Dayton. “They can get the information they need here.”

Faculty and staff are encouraged to come take a look at the new Learning Commons. An open house will be held in August.

A Thigpen Library Make-Over

The Learning Commons construction project was hard for many folks on campus and for no one more than the Library staff. The year-long project meant moving everything from offices and books to entire stacks, lifted by an elaborate hydraulic system made for moving library stacks. The good news is that the Library is back and looking better than ever. The first floor is opened up considerably, with plenty of room for computers and new styles of seating. There is one big hit with the students thus far.

“A couple of years ago we did a survey, and students made several comments about needing a quiet space to study,” said Thigpen Library director, Louise Kelly. “So, with the renovation we took the opportunity to create a Silent Study Room.  Here individual students will find comfortable chairs, similar to the ones in the Great Hall, and tables with chairs to study in quiet.  It’s not for group study; that is what the group study rooms are for.”

The change allowed the Library staff to rethink the use of space.

“We were also able to create a larger Library Instruction Center,” Kelly said.  “This is where classes come in, and we teach them about library and Internet resources that will help them with their research assignment. 
The previous center had room for 18 computers; now we have 30.  On the first floor we have a new circulation desk and research assistance desk where we have three computer stations (as opposed to one previously) to help students with research.  And, of course, we’re very pleased to have new carpet and a fresh coat of paint.”

Faculty and staff can come check out the new Library look. People will also probably be pleased to hear that the Rochelle Center is getting ready to come back into service soon.

The Learning Commons/Library project has been a long haul for everyone, especially the Plant Operations and Facilities folks and the contractors for making it all happen. It’s great to see the results.

Help a Vol State Alumnus Make it to the All-Star Game

Please considering helping a Vol State grad make it to the MLB All-Star game! Steve Delabar pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays these days. He is a Vol State alumnus. Steve is a candidate for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. Fans can currently go to and cast their vote for one of the five candidates (Steve is one of the five).

Here's a link to a story about Steve and his route to the majors, via Vol State. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dr. Faulkner July 4th Message

On Thursday of this week the college will be closed so we may celebrate July 4th.  Called Independence Day, the national holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress.  The National Archives web site reports that contrary to popular belief, the declaration was not signed until an engrossed or formal copy was prepared.  The actual signing occurred on August 2.

As we approach this national day to celebrate our freedom, I’m reminded of the sacrifice that so many have made to earn our freedom.  Those men who signed the Declaration realized full well that in so doing they placed their own lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness at risk to free America from the tyranny of the British monarchy.

At the Sunday morning service where Wanda and I attend, we took time to honor those that have served in the five branches of our military.  As the anthem of each was sung, banners of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marines were presented and active and former members of each branch were asked to stand.   It was a particularly moving moment as a visiting friend from Chattanooga stood as a former Navy Seal who served in Vietnam.

But the struggle for freedom is not restricted to those in the armed forces.  I read the articles in the Sunday edition of The Tennessean about Catherine Burke-Brooks and others from Nashville that bravely became Freedom Riders to bring about desegregation.  Members of that movement faced abuse, expulsion from college, arrest, and even death to win freedom for future generations.

So among the hot dogs, hamburgers, parties, and fireworks of this July 4th let us remember that freedom isn’t free.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dr. Faulkner: Entropy

And now for a lesson in thermodynamics.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the Law of Increased Entropy.  It states that the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time.  Entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system.  So in short, left alone the matter and energy of a system will tend to become more disordered. 

When I taught about entropy in my classes I used two examples.  The first example was the bedroom of a teenager.  Left alone most teenagers’ rooms become more and more disordered until it approaches some level of chaos.  Energy must be expended to restore or just to maintain order. 

My second example was a bit more practical because it involved an automobile.  Left alone your car (a system) will deteriorate and become more disordered.  Tires will rot.  Metal will rust.  Plastic will become brittle and break.  Moving parts will bind.  To prevent this from happening, we expend energy.  We wash and wax the metal.  We apply protecting chemicals on the tires and plastic.  We lubricate the moving parts.

Even with our best efforts we can only postpone entropy.  If you have been in my office, you may have noticed a bumper sticker on one of my bookcases.  I received it from a former student and it says, “Entropy Happens.”

The application of the Second Law to our work world is that we can never stop investing energy.  Even our best efforts will deteriorate if we aren’t vigilant.  Procedures will be more disorderly if we don’t constantly monitor them and make changes i.e. invest energy.  Programs need to be constantly updated.  We can never rest on our laurels.

So the next time we think we have solved all the problems or we think we have a perfect policy in place or a highly efficient procedure, just remember – entropy happens.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner