Friday, December 12, 2014

Childcare Emergency Plan Project Recognized

Vol State has once again been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The honor goes to an innovative Service Learning Project that involved many Vol State classes. 

The 2014 roll recognizes 766 institutions nationwide for community service and Service Learning projects. Here is how the Honor Roll is described by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact, and the Interfaith Youth Core.

“The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.”

Congrats to faculty members James Brown and Penny Duncan and their students. Their Childcare Emergency Plan project was the one presented for consideration this year. It was one of the largest Service Learning projects ever attempted at Vol State, involving more than fifty students in several Vol State classes. The students prepared emergency planning kits for 25 child care centers in Sumner County. It’s tough for a small business or nonprofit to find the time or expertise needed to develop a plan.

“It’s designed to be tailored to each individual center,” said Duncan. “Child care directors can put in their own maps and their own emergency contact lists. The new standards that just became required last year by the state, include reunification plans, getting kids back with their parents, evacuation procedures and how to work with children with disabilities.”

“The Criminal Justice students provided all of the emergency plans, the evacuation plan, the reunification plan,” said James Brown, Criminal Justice instructor. “The education students prepared the process, to make sure the kids don’t get scared and they have activities to keep them occupied during an emergency. The most important part for the education students was probably the training plan. Without proper training, staff won’t know what to do in an emergency.”

Just a few of the students and their instructors are shown here at a presentation event held for the day care centers last summer.

The plan is available for any interested child care operator in Tennessee to download and print for free, on the Vol State website. Visit and then click on “Child Care Emergency Plan.”

Dr. Rick Parrent, Director of Service Learning, points out that this is the second year Vol State has been on the honor roll for Service Learning and community service projects.

Classified Staff Appreciation Award

Staff Council would like congratulate Rhonda Custer, the winner of the Classified Staff Appreciation Award for the month of November! Rhonda is the Secretary III in the Humanities Division.

The other nominees for the month of November were: Jesse Poindexter from the Livingston Campus and Tabatha Roll from the Office of Admissions.

Every month a winner is drawn from the pool of nominees who were seen offering exceptional service to the Vol State community. The award recipient receives a certificate of appreciation and a $20 gift card. Any Vol State employee can fill out the short nomination form to recognize any permanent classified staff employee by going to the Staff Council webpage.

Thank you for supporting this Staff Council initiative and your fellow coworkers!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dr. Faulkner: Celebrating Christmas Every Day

A few weeks ago I saw a sign that read, "Thanksgiving is not a day. It is a lifestyle."

What if the holidays were not dates on a calendar, but rather were our everyday lifestyle?

What if Hanukkah like celebrations of miracles and the acknowledgement of God's provision are routine?

What if the character traits of Kwanza are our daily pattern?  Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith are demonstrated daily.

What if the Christmas spirit of caring and giving continued all year?  Charity would be an everyday occurrence and peace on earth and good will toward men would be prominent.

Wanda and I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gene Research Conference at Vol State in January

Databases of gene sequences are like a precious metal waiting to be mined by researchers. In January the Math and Science Division will be hosting a conference for educators to show refined techniques for using those databases to look for similarities in genes, inferring protein structure, location and function within a cell. This is exciting stuff for folks in biology. And it may mean a change in how we think about life on Earth.

"You're talking about millions of species on this planet," said associate professor Parris Powers. "Many species have 10 to 40 thousand different genes that code for as many as 100,000 proteins. This new research frontier of genomic and proteomic annotation are allowing biologists to reclassify organisms according to genomic characteristics."

That could mean a change in how we organize and classify the plant and animal world, which is a big deal for all of us.

Powers is organizing the January 8 and 9 Microbial Genome Annotation Network (MGAN) Workshop at Vol State. It will bring in 40 science educators from nine states. The goal is for the group to find new ways to teach biology utilizing gene databases to do genomic and proteomic annotation as problem based learning. Some of the members will be from the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) grant program. Others will come from colleges and universities across the country.

Vol State students are also taking part in the workshop. They are part of a new undergraduate research group that will begin exploring genomic annotation at Vol State in the spring semester.