TSBDC Jackson celebrates local Rising Star award

On Tuesday, June 23, the TSBDC Jackson Center awarded the owners of LD2 Consignment and Jewelry the Rising Star award. Co-owners Leah and Lesley Daniel purchased the business in 2017 with the assistance and guidance of the TSBDC.

According to Monique Merriweather, director of the TSBDC Jackson Center, the business receiving this award has taken the advice and counsel offered to them by the TSBDC. The business has a well thought out business plan, a successful business model, and are profitable.

“Leah and Lesley have led the way in small business and are taking the Jackson area and surrounding counties by storm with their innovation and willingness to help others,” said Merriweather. “We are proud of their enthusiasm and accomplishments over the past 3 years and wish them continued success.”

In May 2017, Leah and Lesley Daniel, with the help of the TSBDC Center – Jackson State Community College, purchased the M&M Consignment Shop on Vann Drive, in Jackson, Tennessee. They were able to secure a $55,000 SBA loan and the seller financed the $10,000 balance. The store opened in August 2017 after completing all of the renovations themselves. Two new jobs were created and three jobs retained.

Within 6 months, the store became a destination and the name was changed to LD2 Consignment and Jewelry. Leah and Lesley spent considerable time changing the concept of the business by accepting only quality merchandise for consignment. It did not take long for them to build a strong customer base. The volume in 2018 was $285,000; in 2019 it was $375,000.

In September of 2019, Leah’s and Lesley’s success enabled them to fulfill a dream of opening a store in downtown Jackson. Their goal was to make this store so unique that it would inspire others to move into the downtown area. They renovated a building with a $12,000 equity investment and created LD2 Market Shoppes that offers booths to mostly home-based businesses.

The downtown “Shoppes” opened in November of 2019 with 28 vendors. Today, this number is in excess of 70 vendors with room to add more. LD2 also provides its vendors with business services by recording the sales and paying sales taxes for the businesses.

Eventually, the plan is to add a coffee shop and to create an environment where people can relax and hang out before or after shopping. Leah and Lesley are still excited at the prospects of their downtown venture and look forward to many years of growth in the area.

Spring 2020 Semester Honor Roll Announced

The Office of Admissions and Records at Jackson State Community College released the honor roll for the Spring 2020 semester. On the honor roll, there were 338 full-time students who achieved a quality point average over 3.00. There were 514 students who made the dean’s list by achieving a quality point average of 3.50 or better.

Due to the interruption of the spring semester by the COVID-19 virus, a large number of students were unable to complete their coursework during the regular term. These students were given an incomplete status with the opportunity to complete their classes during the month of June. Due to the unusual circumstances, the honor roll and dean’s list for spring will be addended in the near future to accommodate for this situation.

Honor Roll is reserved for students who are enrolled for twelve (12) or more hours of college-level work (Learning Support excluded) and who complete a semester’s work with a quality point average between 3.00 and 3.49.

Dean’s List is reserved for students who are enrolled for twelve (12) or more hours of college-level work and who complete a semester’s work with a quality point average between 3.50 and 4.00.

JSCC to offer classes in hybrid, FLEX format for fall semester

For the fall semester, classes at Jackson State Community College will be taught in a FLEX format. This format will be a hybrid of both online and face-to-face components. Students will complete some work online and will also meet with faculty either in small group settings, via telecommunication platforms such as Zoom, or some combination of both. Students will be required to be available for coursework during the posted scheduled days and times.

According to Dr. Larry Bailey, Vice President of Academic Affairs, the intent is to have a FLEX component in all ground and hybrid instruction for both lectures and labs that allow for the use of asynchronous instruction such as Zoom, Blue Jeans, eLearn, or other online formats. “This will allow us to start classes and to meet at the already-scheduled times,” said Bailey. “This will provide for much of the structure and personal attention that our students want and need and will also allow us to maintain much smaller and more manageable groups in our classrooms.

Bailey explains that the new plan will not have students to meet for in-person classes during the first week of the semester to allow for faculty to divide the students into “attendance groups. For example, a class that meets on Tuesday and Thursday would have half of the students meet in person on Tuesday and the other half to meet in person on Thursday,” said Bailey. The other day would be met in an online format.

“Our students are already accustomed to utilizing the online technologies,” said Bailey, “and this new FLEX schedule will not be very far from what we currently practice.”

It is hoped that this plan will allow for the flexibility to meet the comfort levels of both students and faculty. Additionally, the FLEX schedule will allow for a consistent delivery method from the beginning and will also allow for a seamless transition in the event of another outbreak of the virus.

Courses offer insight into “Black experience” in America

Each fall, Jackson State Community College’s divisions of Communication and Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences offers HIST 2060: African American History and ENGL 2055: African American Literature, two courses that are particularly relevant to our social and cultural moment.

Professors Tammy Prater and Anna Esquivel feel that education is the best way to offer support and assist the community with understanding the current national crisis. “Students and community members may find themselves struggling to feel informed. Both of these courses offer an opportunity to understand our great American experiment in the context of Racial injustice,” said Prater.

“This is an opportunity to learn more about the Black experience in America and explore how Black arts, letters, theories, critiques, demonstrations, movements, inventions, leadership, and labor have shaped American society and democracy,” stated Esquivel.

Tammy Prater, Associate Professor of History, will teach African American History (HIST2060) that begins with the African experience before there were European colonies in North America. The course will explore the first Africans landing in North America in 1619 (one year before the Pilgrims) and follow them through lives of indentured servitude, then enslavement, and a continuous struggle for freedom and the rights of citizens. In a nation founded on the idea that “All men are created equal,” there will be an analysis of the continuing struggle for a nation to live up to that promise. The course will also explore the lives and works of Anthony Johnson, Denmark Vesey, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglass, Madame C.J. Walker, Ida B. Wells, A. Philip Randolph, Septima Clark, Emmet Till, The Scotsboro Boys, Angela Davis, Thurgood Marshall, and many others.

Anna Esquivel, Associate Professor of English, will teach a survey of African American Literature (ENGL2055), which emphasizes an exploration of African American literary identity through an examination of literary trends, themes, and historical and political contexts. In this course, we will ask questions such as: How do rap and hip-hop reflect the oral traditions of early African cultures? What do works by African American writers teach us about American culture, its history, and its politics? How do poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing by African American writers reflect the inner lives of the artists as well as the cultural, social, and political environments in which they strive, thrive, and struggle? The course will explore the works of writers such as WEB DuBois, Anna Julia Cooper, James Weldon Johnson, Helene Johnson, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Colson Whitehead, Audre Lorde, and many others.

There will be opportunities for the community to participate by reading common works and engaging in online discussions with the professors and the students of African American Literature and African American History. For more information, please email tprater2@jscc.edu and/or aesquivel@jscc.edu.

JSCC Faculty issue statement on diversity and social equity

As our nation reacts to the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Jackson State faculty acknowledge the pain that so many in our campus community are experiencing. Social and economic inequities that result from racial injustice create real and seemingly insurmountable barriers to learning for our students. As faculty, we know that educating students about the contributions Black people have made to American life and democracy is both empowering and critical to making change. The history of dissent and resistance to injustices led by people of color, and the recent movement that continues that work, make us a stronger nation and a better people.

Jackson State faculty educate a diverse group of students, and we remain committed to fostering a space of creativity, learning, questioning, and support on our campus. We encourage honest conversations and respectful relationships in our classrooms, and we believe in the power of community voices combining for the greater good. The fight for social equity is far from over, but the faculty at Jackson State Community College resolve to create the conditions under which all students can thrive.

JSCC administration commits to social equity amid social unrest

In light of the social unrest that is playing out across the country and the world, the administration of Jackson State Community College acknowledges and reaffirms our commitment to justice and believes that the institution needs to take a more active role in addressing the racial inequities that exist in the communities of West Tennessee. Dr. George Pimentel, the newly appointed president of Jackson State, sees this as a top priority as he assumes the leadership position on July 1.

“The death of George Floyd and the resulting public response has made the issue of social injustice in our society an undeniable reality,” said Pimentel. “We must open a dialogue in our campus communities, acknowledge the legacy of systemic racism, and commit ourselves to make Jackson State Community College a place where every member of our community feels truly welcomed.”

Pimentel states that he is committed to the creation of an environment that promotes racial literacy. “We will work to have open discussions in our classrooms and to create intentional spaces for students to discuss these issues,” said Pimentel. “We must do everything we can to eliminate the vestiges of racism from our institutions and society.”

As an Achieving the Dream institution, Jackson State has worked on the premise of creating equity for its students so that the dream of educational success can be a reality for all students. Dr. Pimentel notes that the ideal of social equity will now take precedence in helping our students achieve their dreams of educational success.

The “Voice of Jackson State” signs off after 51 years with college

Margie Lester credits the beginning of her 51-year-relationship with Jackson State Community College to the late Marion Smothers.

He was Dean of Students when she went to register for classes at Jackson State in 1969. While registering, she realized she needed to pay a $5 fee. She didn’t have it.

“Mr. Smothers reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and handed me a $5 bill,” she said. “He never wanted me to pay him back. He was the first person who wanted me at Jackson State.”

Two years later, she graduated with her associate degree, and Chester Parham, who was in charge of the college’s public relations, hired her to be his secretary. Several years later, then President F.E. Wright asked her to be the college’s receptionist, which included working the main switchboard. Lester held that job for the rest of her career.

She officially retired May 31, but the 50-year-old memory of that $5 bill is one of many she’ll take with her.

“Jackson State has always meant a lot to me,” Lester said. Her memories include her one-day of training on a “monstrosity” of a switchboard, her friendship with Dr. Walter Nelms (who retired as President in 1997), the teachers, the coaches and the many students who stopped by her desk to ask for directions or for answers to other questions.

“I wanted the students to have someone they could come to and get help,” she said. “I would give anything to see some of those students again.”

Lester ran the switchboard in the days before call waiting and voicemail. Four telephone lines came into the switchboard, and if four people were on the phone, the caller got a busy signal. It was up to Lester to connect the incoming caller to the right office. She wrote down messages and left them on people’s office doors.

She never tired of her job, she said. “It was so different then. I knew every office extension by memory.”

She’s been called “the Voice of Jackson State,” because it is her voice that you hear when you call the college.

Lester grew up on the UT Experiment Station where her dad, Joe Allen Mays, was a farmer. She has two children, Jeffrey and Jeremy, who are fraternal twins. Jeffrey and his wife, Tori, have two sons. Jeremy and his wife, Julia, have two boys and a girl.

She hasn’t made any concrete plans now that she has retired. She’s looking forward to spending more time with family; at Hillcrest Baptist Church, which she has attended her whole life; and with her neighbors.

Retiring was hard, Lester said. “I never wanted to leave all of those years. But, it’s time.”

TBR appoints George Pimentel as next President of Jackson State Community College

The Tennessee Board of Regents today appointed Dr. George J. Pimentel as the next president of Jackson State Community College, effective July 1. A U.S. Army infantry veteran, he has been vice president of academic affairs at Volunteer State Community College since 2014 and has 26 years of teaching and academic administrative experience.

The Board also appointed Brian Lapps Jr. as its next general counsel, serving the Board and the College System of Tennessee – the state’s 40 community and technical colleges governed by the Board of Regents. He has 27 years of experience as an attorney in public and private practice, including his current role as division counsel at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and previously as deputy general counsel at the University of Tennessee.

TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recommended the two new administrators following separate, months-long national search processes that included Board members and, at Jackson State, representatives of various campus constituencies and the broader community.

As the sixth president in Jackson State’s 53 years of serving students, Pimentel will succeed Dr. Allana Hamilton, who was appointed the College System of Tennessee’s vice chancellor of academic affairs last fall, and Dr. Jeff Sisk, who has served as interim president and remains president of the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in Jackson and Whiteville.

“I never imagined that I would become a college president when I began my career over 25 years ago, and I am honored and grateful to the Chancellor and the Board for trusting me with this opportunity,” Pimentel said. “I’m looking forward to working with Jackson State faculty and staff as we continue to help our students overcome barriers to education and unlock their potential.”

“This is an unprecedented time; students now more than ever need the opportunities that community college can provide through workforce development, collaborative partnerships and educational opportunities. Together, I believe we can make a real difference in people’s lives, and in their communities, and I am excited to engage with community and business leaders as we work together to make that happen.

“I also want to thank Dr. Jerry Faulkner and the Vol State faculty and staff for their support, and for their unwavering commitment to student success. Vol State was my home for twenty years and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” Pimentel said.

He earned his Doctor of Arts in History, Educational Specialist, Master of Arts in History and Bachelor of Arts in History degrees at Middle Tennessee State University. He began his higher education career in 1994 as MTSU’s coordinator of continuing education, then as assistant to the dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts. He was also an adjunct professor of history there.

Pimentel moved to Volunteer State in 2001 as a professor of history, and continued teaching during his tenures as chair of the Department of History, Economics, Geography and Political Science from 2005 to 2009 and as director of the honors program from 2011 to 2014 when he was elevated to the college’s chief academic officer as vice president of academic affairs.

Jackson State is a comprehensive community college with its main campus in Jackson and three branch centers in Humboldt, Lexington and Savannah serving 14 West Tennessee counties. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), it is an Achieving the Dream college committed to student success. It enrolls nearly 5,000 credit students, including more than 1,200 dual-enrolled high school students.

Lapps earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence at the Vanderbilt University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History at the University of Notre Dame. At TBR, he will lead a staff of attorneys at the system office in Nashville.

“I’d Iike to thank the Board, Chancellor Tydings and the Search Committee for their confidence in me,” he said. “This is an exciting opportunity. I look forward to working with the Chancellor, her staff, the system office, and the campuses as we help make a difference for TBR students and the State of Tennessee.”

Lapps began his law career in 1993 at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in Nashville, where he was a partner from 2001 to 2009 when he was appointed deputy general counsel of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He returned to Nashville in 2018 as division counsel at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His career includes extensive labor and employment, litigation and higher education law and management experience.

Tydings thanked members of the search advisory committees who assisted in the search for the two new leaders.