JSCC recognizes Tennessee Promise/Tennessee Reconnect students with special welcome back celebration

Jackson State Community College will offer a “sunny” welcome to both new and returning Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect students this week with a special celebration on Wednesday, August 24.

Under the theme “My Future’s So Bright,” Tennessee Promise and Reconnect students will be invited to participate in a variety of activities during the college’s annual Welcome to Campus celebrations, including writing down their visions of their futures on a special banner and taking a “future selfie” dressed in graduation attire or other gear associated with their future careers. A limited number of sunglasses will also be given away to attendees.

“As the second class of Tennessee Promise students arrives, and the first class returns, we want to give them a little extra recognition and make their first days on campus exciting,” said Brian Gann, VP of student services. “These students have taken a big step toward ensuring their futures are indeed bright. We want to show them that we are dedicated to helping them succeed.”

Tennessee Promise, now in its second year, is a state program offering two years of free tuition at one of the state’s 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology in the state for any student graduating from a Tennessee high school. More than 16,000 students enrolled in the first Tennessee Promise class in fall 2015, contributing to a 10.1 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment in Tennessee public higher education in the fall of 2015 over the previous year. The Tennessee Reconnect program is a newer program for eligible older Tennesseans to return to college.

“We are looking forward to our second year of Tennessee Promise,” said Bruce Blanding, JSCC president. “The positive impact that this program has had on higher education in our state has given all of us a renewed energy for helping our students and ensuring that they achieve their dreams.”

JSCC receives TN Promise Forward grant

Jackson State Community College is the proud recipient of the Tennessee Promise Forward grant with an award amount of $159,496. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission announced Monday that nearly $800,000 was awarded in TN Promise Forward grants to five community colleges to focus on student success and retention.

In its application for the grant, JSCC stated that it would utilize funding to execute interventions that involve mentorship, community building, and college planning. The application also stated that the college will begin the year by implementing a communication plan to increase outreach and touchpoints with students through their college transition, spanning from course registration to degree completion.

“Our goal is to provide robust support services that will help each student create a pathway to success,” says Brian Gann, Vice President of Student Services. “Each student will also be assigned a Jackson State employee mentor who will focus on connecting students to resources on campus.”

Grant funding will also be used to hire a Tennessee Promise Forward completion specialist, who will work with Tennessee Promise students to track persistence and communicate with academic advisors and employee mentors about the status of a student’s enrollment.

“Funding from this grant aligns perfectly with many of our other efforts that are focused on student success,” explained Bobby Smith, Vice President of Student Success & Institutional Effectiveness. Smith continued, “Jackson State joined the Achieving the Dream (ATD) organization in June 2015. Our participation in ATD is an affirmation that all of our efforts as an institution will be focused on the singular goal of student success. If our students aren’t successful, we will not be successful in any other objective we might have.”

Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in Tennessee. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program. Additional information about Tennessee promise can be found at www.tnpromise.gov.

JSCC faculty present PBL project at conference

Jackson State Community College was represented at the Community College Cyber Security Summit (3CS) in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, July 22-24.

Representing JSCC were Tom Pigg, Dean of Allied Health and CIS, and Josh Britt, Associate Professor of Mathematics who have been working on a puzzle-based learning (PBL) project for over a year through the funding obtained from the Nation Science Foundation Project Grant.

With over 360 people in attendance, individuals obtained information pertaining to cyber security and cyber security education.

At the summit, Pigg and Britt demonstrated “game-like puzzles” that would enhance students’ learning of cyber security.

“We were trying to roll the puzzles out to get some reviews and evaluations on their effectiveness,” stated Pigg.

Nine community colleges will pilot these cyber security puzzles during the fall semester.

JSCC to host fall open house

Jackson State Community College will host an open house event Saturday, August 13 on the main campus at 2046 North Parkway. The campus will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day.

This is an opportunity for new and returning students to finalize details before the beginning of the term. Countance Anderson, director of registration and orientation, says, “It is also an opportunity for anyone interested in finding out more about Jackson State to take a tour of the campus and to meet with faculty and staff.”

There are a number of things planned that will allow everyone to mingle and see what the school has to offer. Free snacks are being offered as well as drawings for door prizes.

According to Anderson, “This is an opportunity for students to get their IDs, parking permits, buy books, and finalize financial aid.”

Many of the activities will be geared toward new and returning students, but a special emphasis is being placed on the older non-traditional student. Anderson notes that special financial considerations are available to older students through Tennessee Reconnect. “There is also a special payment plan and other options available that can help those working on tight budgets,” she says

Prospective students will also be able to visit most areas of campus and get a feel for the campus and what Jackson State has to offer. A number of faculty members will be on hand to talk to students and discuss classes.

Students and staff will give guided tours and answer questions about campus life. The library will also be open along with the writing center and academic assistance center. Everyone is also encouraged to come by and visit the fitness center located in the gym.

Anderson is excited that this has become a greatly anticipated semi-annual event. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the folks at Jackson State to showcase what we have to offer our students,” she states. Anyone attending this event should follow the signs on the college’s Jackson campus to the Student Center. Information about the campus along with guided tours will be located there.

For additional information or questions, contact student services at (731) 425-9560.

Jackson State reaffirms accredited status

The regional accrediting body that sets academic standards for colleges and universities in 11 Southern states reaffirmed Jackson State Community College’s accredited status after a lengthy certification process and review.

Jackson State has been an accredited institution since it was founded in 1967. Its last reaffirmation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC) was in 2006.

The accreditation process is designed to ensure that programs offered by colleges and universities meet the standards of the SACSOC, said Dr. Larry Bailey, vice president of academic affairs, who led the effort. It also ensures that programs are comparable to others throughout the country. And an institution must be regionally accredited to be able to provide federal funding for financial aid and to receive reimbursement from the state.

“Accreditation is important to the institution because it ensures to all constituencies of the college that the programs and courses meet the high levels of quality and rigor that are expected in higher education,” Bailey said.

“Maintaining an accredited status through a nationally recognized organization means the degrees students earn carry weight. It also means Jackson State is an honorable institution using best practices with competent faculty and staff and adheres to the same standards as four-year universities,” said Dr. Liz Mayo, an associate professor of English who helped coordinate Jackson State’s reaffirmation efforts.

“We are proud to serve Jackson’s residents and the surrounding 14 counties from which our students travel,” Mayo said. “This reaffirmation not only affirms our commitment to best educational practices but also solidifies the fact that we intend to have a strong presence in this community for many decades to come.”

Accredited colleges go through a review process every 10 years to ensure that the institution is in compliance with more than 90 standards within the principles of accreditation set by the regional accrediting body. The process has two parts: the documentation of compliance with the principles of accreditation and the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan.

The compliance certification report was reviewed by an off-site team of peer evaluators to determine if there were any standards that Jackson State was not in compliance with. An on-site team also visited the campus to work with the college to refine the Quality Enhancement Plan.

Jackson State’s Quality Enhancement Plan included the development of an advising program known as the ANCHOR Model and focuses on student retention and success. ANCHOR is an acronym for advise, navigate, coach, help, orient and relate.

The reaffirmation effort was led by an institutional leadership team that consisted of administrators, faculty, and staff from across the campus. Team members served as chairs for various subcommittees for the accreditation process.

The compliance certification committee worked for more than two years to research, document and prepare the compliance certification report. Another committee of faculty and staff, known as the QEP Team, developed the topic for the Quality Enhancement Plan and the plan that was submitted to the on-site team. Yet another committee prepared the campus for all of the details necessary to host the on-site team during its three-day visit.

“The preparation for the reaffirmation process was very comprehensive and involved every aspect of the campus,” Bailey said. “The announcement by the SACSCOC of the reaffirmation of accreditation of Jackson State shows how the college strives to provide high quality instructional programs and courses and services to the people in the institution’s 14-county service area.”