4Hands set to perform virtual performance at JSCC

The piano duo known as 4Hands is set to perform a virtual concert at Jackson State Community College on Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. The performance will premiere on the college’s JSCC Communications YouTube channel and will be open to students and the public at https://youtu.be/kCD2eLWzzEg. The link to the concert will also be posted on the college’s website (www.jscc.edu) and Facebook page.

The month of October is Global Learning Month at Jackson State Community College. JSCC is well known for bringing world-class musical performances to the area to introduce students and local audiences to the music of various cultures from across the globe. Despite the numerous restrictions the global pandemic has placed on the ways the college can provide services to West Tennessee communities, the International Studies Program has continued the longstanding tradition of presenting musical performances during the monthlong celebration of global learning.

Performing for the first time at JSCC, the piano duo of Kristina Henckel and Amanda Virelles, also known as 4Hands, will perform a total of 8 selections from Antonin Dvorak and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Henckel is a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic and earned her doctorate in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma. In August 2017 Kristina joined the music faculty at Sandhills Community College in Southern Pines, North Carolina where she currently resides with her husband and two children, Elishka and Maksim. Most recently she became the newest addition to the faculty in the Performing Fine Arts department at Fayetteville State University.

Virelles is best known to JSCC audiences as half of the Duo Guitiano piano-guitar duo that has performed at the college a total of 12 times over just as many years. She has performed as a soloist as well as a collaborative artist throughout the United States, France, Russia, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. Amanda began her piano studies in Cuba, continued at Moscow State Conservatory Tchaikovsky, and received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Russian Academy of Music Gnessin in Moscow, Russia, under the guidance of Inna Malinina. Currently, Dr. Virelles is an Associate Professor of Piano at Fayetteville State University, in NC and also teaches piano at Fayetteville School of Music.

Virelles and her husband Carlos Castilla gave a virtual performance as Duo Guitiano for JSCC on October 20. Anyone can watch this performance on the college’s JSCC Communications YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/kZQAz89Pkm4.

For more information about international music performances at JSCC or study-abroad opportunities offered through the college, contact Mary Wadley at mwadley@jscc.edu or 731-424-3520 ext. 50252.

Duo Guitiano’s 12th performance at JSCC is set as virtual experience

Now a standing tradition at Jackson State Community College, the musical duo of Dr. Amanda Virelles and Dr. Carlos Castilla are set to return for their twelfth performance at the college. Due to coronavirus restrictions, this year’s performance will be conducted in a virtual environment. The YouTube premiere event will go live on Tuesday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. A link to the event will be available on the college’s home page at www.jscc.edu and on the college’s Facebook page. This free event is open to the public.

The International Education program of JSCC is hosting Virelles and Castilla. They are classically-trained musicians who have been performing together for many years. While their repertoire is very broad with many styles of music, their performance is typically tailored to consist primarily of Spanish and Latin music.

Duo Guitiano’s performance this year has added significance. The International Education program committee made the decision to bring all of the activities for Global Learning Month into a virtual format. Duo Guitiano’s performance has been a part of the event’s activities for the past 11 years. The virtual performance will be a first, though.

The term Duo Guitiano is used to describe the instrumental combination of guitar and piano. Dr. Virelles plays piano and Dr. Castilla plays classic Latin American guitar. Both Virelles and Castilla have studied music in world-renowned universities and have performed in numerous orchestras and music ensembles.

Amanda Virelles is known as a versatile musician, who has played for audiences around the world. Her performances have been described as sensible, profound, and energetic. She has performed as a soloist as well as a collaborative artist throughout the United States, France, Russia, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. Currently, Dr. Virelles is an assistant professor of Piano at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Colombian-American guitarist, Carlos Castilla, has been featured as a soloist with orchestras and chamber ensembles, as well as in solo recitals in different cities of Latin America and the United States. He has worked as a collaborative artist with orchestras featuring stars such as Placido Domingo, James Galway, and Bernadette Peters. Carlos is the co-founder of Duo Guitiano, along with Cuban-American pianist Amanda Virelles, and is known for his innovative technique, clear sound, and soulful interpretations. Carlos currently teaches guitar courses at Coastal Carolina Community College, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina State, and runs his private studio.

Virelles and Castilla have recently founded the Fayetteville School of Music. Responsibilities for this venture have been added to their teaching duties for Fayetteville State University.

Mary Wadley, coordinator for this event, says, “we are so happy that the coronavirus didn’t derail this wonderful annual tradition at Jackson State.” She continues, “both Amanda and Carlos have been so gracious to work with us during this unusual time to develop performance that will be unique for the Jackson State audience.”

For more information, please contact Mary Wadley, at mwadley@jscc.edu or by calling (731) 424-3520 ext. 50252.

Manufacturing Day 2020 becomes a month-long virtual event

Manufacturing Day — where high school students traditionally are introduced to the many job opportunities at local industry — is expanded this year.

When the event’s planners canceled student tours at local plants because of the coronavirus, they expanded Manufacturing Day to a month-long virtual event on the Chamber’s website that will target students of all age levels, educators, and parents.

“It’s really an opportunity to see all that manufacturing has to offer,” said Cathi Roberts, Completion Coordinator, Advanced Maintenance Technician (AMT) Co-op at Jackson State Community College.

The virtual event includes a welcome by Miranda Cox, a Jackson State student in the AMT Co-op who also works at TBDN; panel discussions where educators and employers will answer questions submitted by students and parents; virtual tours of local manufacturing facilities; and other resources that celebrate and recognize the role of manufacturing.

Manufacturing Day is sponsored by the Jackson State Engineering Systems Technology Program, the Jackson Chamber, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee Pathways, and the Southwest Tennessee Workforce Development Board.

“Manufacturing is not just about production or maintenance,” Roberts said. “It includes the front office and many other opportunities. If you like accounting, there’s a job for you in manufacturing. If you like health care, there’s a job for you in manufacturing.”

Roberts is particularly pleased that the virtual event will have information for parents. “Parents don’t tell their children, ‘I want you to grow up to work in manufacturing.'” Parents will change their attitudes about manufacturing when they learn about the jobs and salaries manufacturing offers, she said.

Jackson State’s two-year program in Engineering Systems Technology prepares students for jobs in manufacturing and gives them an associate of applied science degree.

Students like Cox, who want to earn money while they attend college, can apply for the AMT Co-op. Students work three days a week at one of about 30 participating manufacturing plants and attend Jackson State two days a week. The starting salary for the internship is $12 an hour. “Our average student graduates on a Saturday and has a job paying $20.59 an hour on Monday,” Roberts said.

A new cohort begins each fall. Twenty-three students are enrolled in the seventh cohort that began in August.

Jackson State’s program has earned national recognition. The Manufacturing Institute selected it as one of three schools to participate in the institute’s live FAME event during October. AMT Co-op graduate Zach Stoops, who works at Henderson Stamping Inc., is on one of the institute’s panels.

For more information about Manufacturing Day and to attend the virtual event, visit the Chamber’s Economic Development section on its website at jacksontn.com/economic. Look for a square labeled, “Southwest TN Manufacturing Day” under Workforce.

You will learn a lot, Roberts said. “Manufacturing is not what you think it is.”

Healthcare Certificate Programs Ready Students for Job Market

People wanting to enter the healthcare field quickly can take advantage of three certificate programs offered by Jackson State Community College.

Students can become certified as a clinical medical assistant, patient care technician, or medical coder after taking the required courses and then passing a national certification exam, said Chrystal Taylor, MALS, RN, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for Health Sciences.

“Typically, students can be ready for the national certification in one year, after taking six to eight courses,” she said. “It’s a good way to enter the job market.” The programs are also attractive for people already working in healthcare who want to be certified in a particular area, she added.

The three certificate programs can also lead to associate degrees with about another year of classes.

Classes in each area begin again Oct. 14 as Jackson State starts the second seven weeks of its first semester. Students can enroll through the college’s Admissions Office.

Each of the programs prepares the student for different careers in the healthcare field, Taylor explained.

A certified clinical medical assistant, for example, can run the front office for a small medical practice as well as assist with direct patient care. Students in this program can also focus on becoming EKG technicians and phlebotomy technicians where they can work in hospital, clinic, and home healthcare settings.

A certified patient care technician usually finds a job in assisted living or long-term care facilities or a hospital, providing basic patient care such as feeding and bathing.

The Medical Coding Certificate Program, the newest of the three, is designed for students pursuing an entry position in medical coding. This career includes compiling, processing, and maintaining medical records for a hospital or clinic and meeting specific medical, administrative, ethical, legal, and regulatory requirements.

All three programs offer hands-on learning in the form of a clinical rotation in healthcare facilities, Taylor said. Students who do well in their clinical rotation often are hired by the facility.

Taylor weaves soft skills like promptness, a good work ethic, and dressing appropriately into each course. Students leave the program with a well-polished resume, she added.

She has high expectations for her students, she said. “I want students to perform in class the way they should perform in a clinical setting.”

The purpose is to help students acquire the skills and knowledge they need to get a job and start that new career, she explained. “The jobs are there. The healthcare job market is definitely growing.”

OTA student receives OTF Scholarship of Distinction

Tonya Mutter, a second-year Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) student at Jackson State Community College, was recently awarded a scholarship of distinction by the Occupational Therapy Foundation. Tonya currently represents JSCC as the TNOTA Student Representative and maintains a 3.891 GPA while working to support her five children as a single mother.

Mutter started her quest for an occupational therapy assistant degree at Jackson State Community in June 2018. She knew that she needed an education so she could get a job that pays enough to support her family and to help her save for retirement.

“I was tired of struggling,” said Mutter, who has five children ages 13, 15, 17, 19, and 23.

She and her husband were doing fine until he died in a car accident in 2008. Since then, Mutter has tried to support her family on low-paying and part-time jobs that included being a pre-kindergarten assistant, school bus driver, and working on a farm harvesting and packing produce. She found her ticket back to school with the Tennessee Reconnect program that covers tuition for adults who never completed a post-secondary degree.

Mutter decided to work in health care as an occupational therapy assistant because she wants a career that helps others. Because of her son’s cerebral palsy, she added, “It will never be just me. I want to provide the best I can for him – and for the rest of my family. My son’s medical needs, along with my own, have impressed upon me a great desire to help others recover from disabilities and inspire them to enjoy life as much as possible.”

Counselor gives students “a safe place to talk”

When Jackson State Community College students struggle with anxiety, anger, depression, or other mental health issues, they have someone ready to help them — Student Counselor, Jessica Barron.

“I offer students a safe place to talk,” Barron said. “I don’t judge; it’s just a time to talk candidly about academic and personal life stressors.” Besides listening, she offers resources and coping skills to help students appropriately manage their feelings.

Jackson State contracts with Pathways Behavioral Health Services to provide free, confidential mental health services for students. Barron, who has been the counselor at Jackson State for a year, is seeing more students this semester, partly because word is spreading about her services and also because of COVID-19.

“Everything is different now,” she said. With most classes only online, students are staying in one place, they don’t have the personal interaction they’re used to.

Online learning also can be particularly hard on students who are not self-starters, she said.

“Without the professor keeping them on track, they lose focus and motivation. They don’t have the accountability and encouragement of face-to-face interaction with their teacher.”

“Jackson State knows the stress people are feeling with COVID, combined with the transition from in-person to online college classes has been exceptionally hard for many,” said Linda Nickell, JSCC dean of students. “The college works to provide as much support for students as possible, and free counseling is an important tool to help with their success.”

Barron is available to students from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. She’ll see them through video chat or talk to them by phone. “It depends on their preference,” she said.

She also offers Green Jay Nation weekly “Chirp and Chatter” Zoom meetings at 2 p.m. each Wednesday and Thursday. It’s an open forum that any student can join, she said. “It’s an outlet to process their thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment.”

Barron, who graduated from North Side High School, attended Jackson State and credits the college with helping her find her calling in social work.

She went on to graduate from Union University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and earned her master’s degree in social work from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.

Barron has experience with clients battling depression, anxiety, and other mental health diagnoses. She specializes in trauma therapy and is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for people who have post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues related to trauma.

Her services at Jackson State are free, and students can reach her at scounselor@jscc.edu or at 731-424-3520, ext. 50260.

Barron encourages students to contact her if they need help. “A lot of people right now … just need someone to listen. If you need to talk, I’m available.”

Federal program to reimburse training tuition for certain online courses at Jackson State

Jackson State Community College is offering online courses to foster workforce development through a federal initiative focused on helping businesses provide additional training for employees.

The program provides reimbursement for training programs to businesses that enroll their employees, but they need to apply as soon as possible. The courses align with the new federal Incumbent Worker Training Program, which is funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and created to provide grants to train and retain employees by providing skills upgrades and process improvement training.

The federal government announced the program in late August. Since then, Jackson State has been working in conjunction with area employers to create courses that they can use to train their workers.

“When these announcements are made, we look at what are the demands in the area and what we can do to fulfill those for the employers,” said Kimberly Johnson, director of Workforce Development at Jackson State.

The courses through the Incumbent Worker Training Program need to be completed by the end of November when the invoices are due for submission and reimbursement. Because of that, Jackson State created a list of online courses that apply to a variety of workers in various sectors that will fit the timeframe.

“A ground-based classroom is what employers typically want, but that would be impossible based on the timeframe and current conditions,” Johnson said. “But we have many online courses that are instructor-led and designed for people who are really trying to get in-depth training.”

Existing businesses can apply for reimbursement through the State of Tennessee, and the amount depends on the number of employees. Jackson State can help guide them through the process. The reimbursements are first come, first served; funding is limited; and some classes are starting at the beginning of October.

“They need to get their application in with the state as soon as possible,” Johnson said. “The quicker they get it in, the better chance they have to get reimbursed for that training. We recommend they submit the application upfront with the Local Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and together we’ll make sure that we can give them the most they can get.”

Contact Johnson at 731-425-8826 or kjohnson75@jscc.edu for information about the program, as well as which courses are available.

LIFELINE Battle of the Colleges is Back!

During the month of September, JSCC’s blood drive battle against area colleges will be held at Lifeline Blood Services at 183 Sterling Farm Drive. Appointments are preferred and can be made by calling 731-427-4431. Remember, you can also complete the medical questionnaire on the day you go to donate. Additionally, LIFELINE is still doing free antibody checks for COVID-19.

Please, please announce and encourage students, family members, friends, etc. to all go donate during September to help support JSCC. There will be a sign-in sheet for the college your wish to represent. We can make a difference in the community….and it’s always nice to be able to keep the trophy on our campus too.

“Not having the event on JSCC’s campus will make this the most difficult challenge yet,” said Leah Gray, JSCC blood drive organizer. “It will test our strength and motivation, but I know that we will rise to the challenge and keep the trophy on JSCC’s campus.”

If you have any questions, contact Leah Gray at lgray@jscc.edu. Thank you in advance for your donation!

Computer specifications for online classes at JSCC

For students wanting to purchase a computer for the fall semester, the Office of Information Technology at JSCC has posted the minimum requirements of computer equipment needed for online classes at the college.

  • Web Camera
  • Microphone
  • 8 GB RAM minimum
  • Intel Core i5 processor or faster.

Please note that a Google Chromebook is NOT compatible and will not work with the software necessary to take online classes at JSCC. Microsoft Office applications are available to JSCC students free of charge while they are enrolled at the college. Please send any questions about equipment compatibility to helpdesk@jscc.edu.

JSCC announces final plans for fall semester

The administration of Jackson State Community College has announced three versions of instruction that will be utilized during the fall semester. Faculty will use the three options to provide the high-quality learning experience Jackson State students expect while promoting a safe environment for students and employees. The three options include online classes, FLEX, and hybrid.

FLEX – Classes labeled FLEX will be taught at scheduled times through live-streaming using videoconferencing software (such as Zoom) provided by the college. Classes will meet online at scheduled days and times. Students will submit assignments and will have access to class materials through D2L (eLearn). FLEX classes are designed for those students who prefer a more traditional face-to-face classroom experience. Students will be able to talk with their professors, participate in class discussions, and enjoy group activities.

Online – Classes labeled Online are taught through the D2L (eLearn) system. Students can log in and complete assignments at times scheduled by the professor. Classes do not have assigned meeting days or times. Online classes are a great option for those students who cannot commit to attending class at a particular time. Students are able to work around job schedules and family responsibilities by completing coursework when it fits their schedule each week.

Hybrid – Classes labeled Hybrid will be taught using a combination of online or FLEX and small group settings on campus at scheduled days and times. Hybrid classes are designed for labs and skill-based courses (primarily limited to nursing, health sciences, engineering systems, organic chemistry, computer information technology) that require some in-person activities and training. The small-group settings will be conducted with required masks and appropriate distancing measures in place.

Registration for fall classes is available now, and students can apply for admission to the college by going to the admissions page at the Jackson State website,www.jscc.edu/apply, or by calling 731-425-8844. The fall term begins on August 24.