Tag Archive | "Service Learning"

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Tusculum College class continues work to rehabilitate New Hope Cemetery

Posted on 27 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

The Greene County Heritage Trust has recognized the effort to rehabilitate the New Hope Cemetery with a Special Award of Merit. From left are representatives of groups and individuals involved in the rehabilitation effort: John Mays, moderator of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church; Randi Nott; Tammy Greene, pastor of Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Gene Maddox, member of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church; Joyce Doughty, director of the Center for Civic Advancement and Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Historic New Hope Cemetery continues to emerge with the continuing work to rehabilitate the only remnants of what was once an African-American church and school in the Tusculum community.

The cemetery now looks very different and a database has been created about the individuals buried in the cemetery due to the recent efforts of a service-learning class at Tusculum College. The class was taught by Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Located near the intersection of Oak Grove and Old Shiloh roads in what is now a residential area, the cemetery was at the site of what had been the New Hope Presbyterian Church and an affiliated school, established by former slaves following the Civil War. The church had ties to Tusculum. In 1869, the Rev. William Witherspoon Doak, then president of Tusculum College, was appointed by the Holston Presbytery to serve as an itinerant missionary, and as such, preached at the church. Tusculum students have been involved with the cemetery’s clean-up and rehabilitation since its rediscovery about eight years ago.

When students learned that the focus of the course would be the rehabilitation of the cemetery, some said they were surprised and doubtful that they would be able to do much of significance.

Discovering how much can be done through a focused effort in a short amount of time is one of the lessons students in the class say they learned from their experiences.   The students were able to accomplish a great deal from beautifying the cemetery to creating a database of individuals buried in the cemetery that will aid in genealogical and historic research. The students also created a grid of the cemetery, mapping out and recording the location of the tombstones and other features of the cemetery. One group created family trees for some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, while another researched the best practices for preserving the tombstones and then put them into practice in cleaning lichen from the markers.

One group sought donations for the rehabilitation process and made recommendations of how the New Hope Cemetery Committee can possibly raise funds for the cemetery’s continued rehabilitation and its maintenance in the future. Another group recorded the progress of the class and made sure that the groups were communicating to ensure efforts were coordinated. The class members gave a presentation about their efforts Wednesday, April 6, which was attended by a number of community members, including members of the New Hope Cemetery Committee.

Tusculum student Alex McKay, from Chattanooga, plays “Amazing Grace” at the conclusion of a presentation by a service-learning class about its work in New Hope Cemetery.

The class members divided into small groups to take on individual projects that involved their interests and talents. Class member Tom Salinas, from Brownsville, Texas, said that the students were not presented with a specific project to complete. “We had a problem, and we came up with our own projects and solutions,” he said. “Overall, it was a really wonderful experience.”

Clare McBeth of Martin said she learned that a small group can make a difference. “When we all got together and worked hard, we saw things can be changed.”

Other students spoke of the challenging nature of the project and a sense of accomplishment that came after a project was completed. “I like challenges,” said Donayle Watson of Elizabethton. “We had a challenge, and it was doing something to help the community.”

Charles Shrewsbury of Stanton, Va., recalled visiting cemeteries as he accompanied his father on family genealogical searches and said it was rewarding to be able to do something to help family members of those buried in the New Hope Cemetery have access to the cemetery.  “Family relationships are important,” he said. “No one should be forgotten.”

The group that undertook the cleaning of the cemetery did plenty of that type of work, such as raking up leaves that filled 13 large trash bags. But, they also worked to make the cemetery a more attractive place for visitors by refinishing and repainting three benches that are now providing a place to sit and reflect in the cemetery. The benches were donated to the cemetery through one of the students in the class. The students also built a bridge over the deep ditch between the edge of the road and the entrance into the cemetery.

This group also made some discoveries as they worked. The students uncovered a set of steps at the back of the cemetery that may have led to either the church or the school.

The plotting and mapping group created a grid of the cemetery, using string and stakes to divide the cemetery into four foot by four foot squares. The group then recorded everything located in the squares to create a blueprint and map of the cemetery.

A related group researched the best practices in conserving the tombstones and compiled a list of “do’s and don’ts” for those who would be working in the cemetery in the future.  The group put what they learned into practice, beginning the process of cleaning lichen from some of the markers.

Another group recorded the names of those found on the tombstones, which began their research into who was buried in the cemetery. Researching death certificates, cemetery lists and other information, the students were able to compile a database of individuals buried in the cemetery, listing names, birth and death dates, occupations and causes of death as possible. In their research, the students found the names of 54 persons who may be buried at the cemetery. The students said based on the information they found,  they are almost certain 43 of the 54 are buried in the cemetery, thirty of which are in marked graves and 13 in unmarked.

The group found one person with a Tusculum College connection – Aaron Gudger who was a janitor at the college prior to his death as a result of a car accident.

Another group researched various families whose members are buried in the cemetery and created family trees for those families. The students researched census, birth, death and other records and contacted family members to learn more about the families.

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Earth Day Extravaganza focuses on environmental education and sustainability

Posted on 15 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

earthday1Expanding Tusculum College’s Community Garden, at left, and tree tours of the campus, at right, were part of the Earth Day Extravaganza on Thursday, April 14. The event, focusing on environmental education and sustainability, was open to the public. Sponsored by the Pioneer Green Team, the event was centered in two primary areas. One was on the lawn outside of McCormick Hall on campus, where there were a number of displays providing information about topics as varied as preserving local wildlife to the dangers of radon, as well as children’s craft activities. Setting up displays were Rural Resources, Bays Mountain, the Cherokee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Coca-Cola and the U.S. Forest Service, which also brought along Smokey the Bear. Student volunteers worked all day at the other central location, the college’s Community Garden at the Honors Residential House near Doak Elementary School. The students planted a number of new flowers, shrubs and trees at the garden and added decorative stone pavers.

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Tusculum class continues work to rehabilitate New Hope Cemetery

Posted on 13 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

Historic New Hope Cemetery continues to emerge with the continuing work to rehabilitate the only remnants of what was once an African-American church and school in the Tusculum community.

The cemetery now looks very different and a database has been created about the individuals buried in the cemetery due to the recent efforts of a service-learning class at Tusculum College. The class was taught by Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Located near the intersection of Oak Grove and Old Shiloh roads in what is now a residential area, the cemetery was at the site of what had been the New Hope Presbyterian Church and an affiliated school, established by former slaves following the Civil War. When students learned that the focus of the course would be the rehabilitation of the cemetery, some said they were surprised and doubtful that they would be able to do much of significance.

Discovering how much can be done through a focused effort in a short amount of time is one of the lessons students in the class say they learned from their experiences.  The students were able to accomplish a great deal from beautifying the cemetery to creating a database of individuals buried in the cemetery that will aid in genealogical and historic research. The students also created a grid of the cemetery, mapping out and recording the location of the tombstones and other features of the cemetery. One group created family trees for some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, while another researched the best practices for preserving the tombstones and then put them into practice in cleaning lichen from the markers.

newhopecemetery1

One group sought donations for the rehabilitation process and made recommendations of how the New Hope Cemetery Committee can possibly raise funds for the cemetery’s continued rehabilitation and its maintenance in the future. Another group recorded the progress of the class and made sure that the groups were communicating to ensure efforts were coordinated. The class members gave a presentation about their efforts Wednesday, April 6, which was attended by a number of community members, including members of the New Hope Cemetery Committee.

The class members divided into small groups to take on individual projects that involved their interests and talents. Class member Tom Salinas, from Brownsville, Texas, said that the students were not presented with a specific project to complete. “We had a problem, and we came up with our own projects and solutions,” he said. “Overall, it was a really wonderful experience.”

Clare McBeth of Martin said she learned that a small group can make a difference. “When we all got together and worked hard, we saw things can be changed.”

Other students spoke of the challenging nature of the project and a sense of accomplishment that came after a project was completed. “I like challenges,” said Donayle Watson of Elizabethton. “We had a challenge, and it was doing something to help the community.”

Charles Shrewsbury of Stanton, Va., recalled visiting cemeteries as he accompanied his father on family genealogical searches and said it was rewarding to be able to do something to help family members of those buried in the New Hope Cemetery have access to the cemetery.  “Family relationships are important,” he said. “No one should be forgotten.”

newhopecemetery_benchesThe group that undertook the cleaning of the cemetery did plenty of that type of work, such as raking up leaves that filled 13 large trash bags. But, they also worked to make the cemetery a more attractive place for visitors by refinishing and repainting three benches that are now providing a place to sit and reflect in the cemetery. The benches were donated to the cemetery through one of the students in the class. The students also built a bridge over the deep ditch between the edge of the road and the entrance into the cemetery.

This group also made some discoveries as they worked. The students uncovered a set of steps at the back of the cemetery that may have led to either the church or the school.

The plotting and mapping group created a grid of the cemetery, using string and stakes to divide the cemetery into four foot by four foot squares. The group then recorded everything located in the squares to create a blueprint and map of the cemetery.

A related group researched the best practices in conserving the tombstones and compiled a list of “do’s and don’ts” for those who would be working in the cemetery in the future.  The group put what they learned into practice, beginning the process of cleaning lichen from some of the markers.

Another group recorded the names of those found on the tombstones, which began their research into who was buried in the cemetery. Researching death certificates, cemetery lists and other information, the students were able to compile a database of individuals buried in the cemetery, listing names, birth and death dates, occupations and causes of death as possible. In their research, the students found the names of 54 persons who may be buried at the cemetery. The students said based on the information they found,  they are almost certain 43 of the 54 are buried in the cemetery, thirty of which are in marked graves and 13 in unmarked.

The group found one person with a Tusculum College connection – Aaron Gudger who was a janitor at the college prior to his death as a result of a car accident.

Another group researched various families whose members are buried in the cemetery and created family trees for those families. The students researched census, birth, death and other records and contacted family members to learn more about the families.

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Tusculum class makes donation to CHIPS domestic violence shelter, hosts Women’s Fair on campus

Posted on 13 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

A Tusculum College class presented a donation to the CHIPS (Change Is Possible) organization on Wednesday, April 6, following its studies and activities focusing on gender issues.

Students in Dr. Angela Keaton’s “Theory and Practice of Citizenship” course hosted a Women’s Fair on Monday and Tuesday, April 4 and 5, in the Niswonger Commons to provide information about these issues. As part of the Women’s Fair, one group of students from the class hosted an unique bake sale to highlight the gender pay gap. The proceeds from the bake sale were donated to the CHIPS program, which is dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse. Keaton is an assistant professor of history and director of the Honors Program at Tusculum.

To help illustrate differences between pay for men and women, the students sold baked goods at different prices, $1 to males and 75 cents to females. The packaging for the baked goods also contained information about gender pay issues.

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As part of the Women’s Fair, another group of students collected a large box full of old wireless phones and accessories to donate to HopeLine, Verizon Wireless’ program that works to prevent domestic violence and raise awareness about the issue. The HopeLine program has awarded more than $7.9 million in grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country and has distributed more than 90,000 phones with the equivalent of more than 300 million minutes of free wireless service to victims of domestic violence.

A third group of students developed interactive activities for the Women’s Fair to provide information about women’s heart health.

Following the presentation of the donation, Carolyn McAmis, the executive director of CHIPS, talked to the students about the organization’s service. The CHIPS organization provides a free, confidential and safe shelter to victims of domestic abuse in Carter, Greene and Unicoi counties. In addition, the organization provides individual and group counseling, case planning and referral to appropriate support services and criminal justice/legal advocacy for help through the legal process.

While CHIPS receives grant funds for operating expenses and revenue from its thrift store in Unicoi County, McAmis said, donations such as the one from the Tusculum students are also important to provide for special needs of those it serves.

She explained that some victims leave an abusive situation with only the clothes they are wearing, some have had to leave essential medications or have had a pair of glasses broken by their abuser, and CHIPS helps provide for those and similar needs.

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Hunger Banquet at focuses on issues of hunger and distribution of food resources

Posted on 13 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

A plastic bucket of water and a bowl of rice were waiting as dinner for a majority of the participants of the Oxfam Hunger Banquet Wednesday, March 23, at Tusculum College.

Representing the food resources of roughly half of the world’s population, the meager amount of food was shared by Tusculum students who sat on the floor and had no utensils to use other than plastic cups.

Coordinated by the Tusculum Bonner Leader student service organization, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet is designed to give participants, through their experience, an understanding of how the world’s food resources are distributed among the world population and some of the issues faced by people living at each level.

As they entered, each participant in the Hunger Banquet received a ticket that indicated in which economic group (low, middle, or high) he or she was assigned. The ticket also described the life of a specific individual in that economic group. Some tickets described two individuals, one in the economic group in a third world country and another one in the United States who had been helped by one of Oxfam’s programs to assist people in becoming self-sufficient.

Bonner Leader Kalie Smith served as the master of ceremonies, sharing statistics about each of the income groups.  The majority of the students and staff who attended were in the low-income group, representing about 50 percent of the world’s population. Smith told the group about a widow in Ethiopia struggling to raise seven children, a family that typically eats one small meal a day.

A smaller group was designated as the middle-income group, representing about 35 percent of the world’s population. This group fared a bit better as they were able to sit on chairs for their meal of rice and beans. This group did have plastic forks and plates to use during their meal.  Smith noted that this group often lives paycheck to paycheck and a loss of a job, a bad growing season or some other factor over which they usually have no control can result in dropping down into the low-income group.

Four people received “high-income” cards and were seated at a table set with silverware and glass tableware to be served a meal of pasta and salad. Smith noted that the high-income group represented about 15 percent of the world’s population, those earning $12,000 per year and up who can afford nutritious meals each day.

Smith also shared information from Oxfam about the causes of hunger, noting it is not an issue of a lack of food production but an unequal distribution of resources.

Participants were encouraged to learn more about hunger and its root causes, to share that information with others and to become involved with a group like Oxfam America that works to find solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.

Oxfam America is a part of Oxfam International, a confederation of 14 Oxfams working in 98 countries. Together with individuals and local groups in these countries, Oxfam works to feed the hungry, help people overcome poverty and fight for social justice.

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Tusculum College class makes donation to CHIPS domestic violence shelter

Posted on 12 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

A Tusculum College class presented a donation to the CHIPS (Change Is Possible) organization on Wednesday, April 6, following its studies and activities focusing on gender issues.

Students in Dr. Angela Keaton’s “Theory and Practice of Citizenship” course hosted a Women’s Fair on Monday and Tuesday, April 4 and 5, in the Niswonger Commons to provide information about these issues. As part of the Women’s Fair, one group of students from the class hosted an unique bake sale to highlight the gender pay gap. The proceeds from the bake sale were donated to the CHIPS program, which is dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse. Keaton is an assistant professor of history and director of the Honors Program at Tusculum.

chipsdonation

To help illustrate differences between pay for men and women, the students sold baked goods at different prices, $1 to males and 75 cents to females. The packaging for the baked goods also contained information about gender pay issues.

As part of the Women’s Fair, another group of students collected a large box full of old wireless phones and accessories to donate to HopeLine, Verizon Wireless’ program that works to prevent domestic violence and raise awareness about the issue. The HopeLine program has awarded more than $7.9 million in grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country and has distributed more than 90,000 phones with the equivalent of more than 300 million minutes of free wireless service to victims of domestic violence.

A third group of students developed interactive activities for the Women’s Fair to provide information about women’s heart health.

Following the presentation of the donation, Carolyn McAmis, the executive director of CHIPS, talked to the students about the organization’s service. The CHIPS organization provides a free, confidential and safe shelter to victims of domestic abuse in Carter, Greene and Unicoi counties. In addition, the organization provides individual and group counseling, case planning and referral to appropriate support services and criminal justice/legal advocacy for help through the legal process.

While CHIPS receives grant funds for operating expenses and revenue from its thrift store in Unicoi County, McAmis said, donations such as the one from the Tusculum students are also important to provide for special needs of those it serves.

She explained that some victims leave an abusive situation with only the clothes they are wearing, some have had to leave essential medications or have had a pair of glasses broken by their abuser, and CHIPS helps provide for those and similar needs.

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Tusculum College class continues work to rehabilitate New Hope Cemetery

Posted on 08 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

Historic New Hope Cemetery continues to emerge with the continuing work to rehabilitate the only remnants of what was once an African-American church and school in the Tusculum community.

The cemetery now looks very different and a database has been created about the individuals buried in the cemetery due to the recent efforts of a service-learning class at Tusculum College. The class was taught by Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Located near the intersection of Oak Grove and Old Shiloh roads in what is now a residential area, the cemetery was at the site of what had been the New Hope Presbyterian Church and an affiliated school, established by former slaves following the Civil War. When students learned that the focus of the course would be the rehabilitation of the cemetery, some said they were surprised and doubtful that they would be able to do much of significance.

newhopecemetery1Discovering how much can be done through a focused effort in a short amount of time is one of the lessons students in the class say they learned from their experiences.  The students were able to accomplish a great deal from beautifying the cemetery to creating a database of individuals buried in the cemetery that will aid in genealogical and historic research. The students also created a grid of the cemetery, mapping out and recording the location of the tombstones and other features of the cemetery. One group created family trees for some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, while another researched the best practices for preserving the tombstones and then put them into practice in cleaning lichen from the markers.

One group sought donations for the rehabilitation process and made recommendations of how the New Hope Cemetery Committee can possibly raise funds for the cemetery’s continued rehabilitation and its maintenance in the future. Another group recorded the progress of the class and made sure that the groups were communicating to ensure efforts were coordinated. The class members gave a presentation about their efforts Wednesday, April 6, which was attended by a number of community members, including members of the New Hope Cemetery Committee.

The class members divided into small groups to take on individual projects that involved their interests and talents. Class member Tom Salinas, from Brownsville, Texas, said that the students were not presented with a specific project to complete. “We had a problem, and we came up with our own projects and solutions,” he said. “Overall, it was a really wonderful experience.”

Clare McBeth of Martin said she learned that a small group can make a difference. “When we all got together and worked hard, we saw things can be changed.”

Other students spoke of the challenging nature of the project and a sense of accomplishment that came after a project was completed. “I like challenges,” said Donayle Watson of Elizabethton. “We had a challenge, and it was doing something to help the community.”

Charles Shrewsbury of Stanton, Va., recalled visiting cemeteries as he accompanied his father on family genealogical searches and said it was rewarding to be able to do something to help family members of those buried in the New Hope Cemetery have access to the cemetery.  “Family relationships are important,” he said. “No one should be forgotten.”

The group that undertook the cleaning of the cemetery did plenty of that type of work, such as raking up leaves that filled 13 large trash bags. But, they also worked to make the cemetery a more attractive place for visitors by refinishing and repainting three benches that are now providing a place to sit and reflect in the cemetery. The benches were donated to the cemetery through one of the students in the class. The students also built a bridge over the deep ditch between the edge of the road and the entrance into the cemetery.

newhopecemetery_benches

This group also made some discoveries as they worked. The students uncovered a set of steps at the back of the cemetery that may have led to either the church or the school.

The plotting and mapping group created a grid of the cemetery, using string and stakes to divide the cemetery into four foot by four foot squares. The group then recorded everything located in the squares to create a blueprint and map of the cemetery.

A related group researched the best practices in conserving the tombstones and compiled a list of “do’s and don’ts” for those who would be working in the cemetery in the future.  The group put what they learned into practice, beginning the process of cleaning lichen from some of the markers.

Another group recorded the names of those found on the tombstones, which began their research into who was buried in the cemetery. Researching death certificates, cemetery lists and other information, the students were able to compile a database of individuals buried in the cemetery, listing names, birth and death dates, occupations and causes of death as possible. In their research, the students found the names of 54 persons who may be buried at the cemetery. The students said based on the information they found,  they are almost certain 43 of the 54 are buried in the cemetery, thirty of which are in marked graves and 13 in unmarked.

The group found one person with a Tusculum College connection – Aaron Gudger who was a janitor at the college prior to his death as a result of a car accident.

Another group researched various families whose members are buried in the cemetery and created family trees for those families. The students researched census, birth, death and other records and contacted family members to learn more about the families.

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Bonner Foundation president commends service leader students

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Bonner Foundation president commends service leader students

Posted on 12 September 2006 by tcrabtree@tusculum.edu

Bonner Foundation president visits Tusculum CollegeWayne Meisel, president of the Bonner Foundation, on Thursday told Tusculum College students in the service leader program that bears the foundation’s name that their group is among the best in the country.

“I would put the people in this room up against any group from any college around the country and know you would get things done because of what you have already accomplished,” Meisel told members of Tusculum’s Bonner Leaders program as he met with them during a reception Thursday afternoon. Meisel visited Tusculum College as part of a trip to visit colleges and universities with Bonner programs in this region.

The Bonner Foundation, one of the nation’s largest privately funded service scholarship programs, works with about 70 universities and colleges to create a culture of service on college campuses. Housed in the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum, the Bonner Leader program, currently composed of 15 students, provides leadership training, a tuition grant and a channel for students to serve in their community.

Meisel asked the students about the effect the Bonner Leader program has had in their lives and received a variety of answers. Alejandra Chavez said her Bonner Leader service placement was in a local school, and she has been chosen for a position at the school because school administrators got to know her through her service.

Anup Kaphle, a native of Nepal, said when he came to America, he thought of America as a great country where people did not have to face the same challenges as in his homeland. But, he said, when he traveled to Caretta, W. Va., for a service trip, he saw people living in the same conditions as found in Nepal.

Megan Ownby said her service experiences have helped strengthen her desire to reach her educational goals and return to her home community to serve and help better conditions there.

The students also commented that their Bonner Leader experiences have helped them be more open to others needs and perspectives.

Meisel then asked the students about how the program could be strengthened and more students become involved. He encouraged and challenged them to continue in their service and to help expand the program by involving more students.

The students also told Meisel about the service projects that are part of their Bonner Leader responsibilities. Students are working as tutors through a program of the George Clem Multicultural Association, helping in the local Truancy Office, tutoring and working with children at the Backyard Learning Center after-school program for Tusculum View Elementary School students from low income families, assisting senior citizens at Plaza Towers learn to use e-mail to stay in touch with family and friends, and helping spread information on campus about service opportunities and the Bonner Leader program.

As part of the program, Bonner Leaders are required to fulfill 100 hours of volunteer time per semester, participate in group service projects, assume leadership roles, and serve in individual service placements. They may address such issues as improving educational opportunities, fighting hunger, illiteracy, drug and alcohol abuse or environmental concerns. Student members participate in regular training and reflection activities sponsored by the campus, their community partners and the Bonner Foundation. A $1,000 tuition grant per semester is available for students accepted into the Bonner Leader program.

Prior to meeting with the students, Meisel met with college officials about the program including Dr. Kim Estep, provost and vice president of academic affairs; Melinda Dukes, assistant vice president of academic affairs, and Robin Fife, Bonner Leaders program director.

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