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6/28/2018

Greeneville Native Appointed to State Board of Education

Article as it appeared in The Greeneville Sun's Education Section on Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Nicholas Darnell, a native of Greeneville, has been appointed to the Tennessee State Board of Education.


Darnell, an eighth grade American history and government teacher in Hamblen County, will represent the First Congressional District on the board, according to a news release from the State Board of Education.


He joined the board in May and will serve through 2023.


A teacher for 12 years, Darnell was chosen as the East Ridge Middle School, Hamblen County and First Tennessee Core Region middle school teacher of the year in 2015.  In the same year, he was selected by Gov. Bill Haslam to serve on the first Governor's Teacher Cabinet.  He has advised the governor and Education Commissioner for the past three years.


Darnell also serves as a learning leader for Hamblen County by facilitating Professional Learning Communities, leading professional development and mentoring fellow teachers, according to the release.


He is a 2002 graduate of South Greene High School, was a Niswonger Scholar and earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Tusculum College in 2006.  Darnell earned his master's degree in educational leadership and his specialist degree in school system leadership with an administrative endorsement from East Tennessee State University.


"I am very excited to have Nick join the State Board as our new teacher member and feel confident he will bring valuable insight and perspective to the board's policy discussions and decisions," said Dr. Sara Morrison, executive director of the State Board of Education.


The Tennessee State Board of Education is a 11-member, governor appointed and legislatively confirmed board on policy review and development across all areas of K-12 education in the state, according to the release.


The State Board of Education is the governing and policy making body for Tennessee's pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade public education system.  Its work touches all facets of education from accountability and evaluation to standards and teacher education.


Members are chosen from each congressional district in the state and also include a student and the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, who serves as a non-voting, ex officio member.

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4/30/2018

NISWONGER FOUNDATION 2018 CODE AND TECHNOLOGY CAMPS


First Year Code & Tech Camps

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

First Year Code & Tech Camps are 5-day code & technology camps for students who have little or no exposure to computers or technology.

(High School, Rising 9-12 grade)

     -June 18th – 22nd (ETSU)

     -June 11th – 15th (Kingsport Higher Ed Center)

     -July 9th – 13th (Hancock County High School)

     -July 16th – 20th (ETSU @ Sevierville)


(Middle School, Rising 6-8 Grade)

     -June 4th – 8th (ETSU)

     -June 11th – 15th (Kingsport Higher Ed Center)

     -July 16th – 20th (Northeast State CC (Girls Only)


AP Computer Science Prep Week

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

AP Computer Science Prep Week are 5-day camps to help prepare students to complete the AP Computer Science Exam.

     -July 23 – 27th (ETSU)


Girls in Science & Technology (GIST) Camps

8:15 am – 11:45 am

GIST Camps are week-long, half-day camps that allow rising fifth and sixth grade girls to explore STEM related activities.

(Rising 5th Graders)

     -June 4th – 8th (ETSU)

(Rising 6th Graders)

      -June 18th – 22nd (ETSU)


Advanced Code & Tech Camps

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Advanced Code & Tech Camps are 5-day camps for students who participated in previous code and technology camps.

Java Game Development

 -July 23 – July 27  (ETSU)


Raspberry Pi Tablet Maker’s Camp

      -June 25th – June 29th (ETSU)


CAD Camps

9:00 am to 3:00 pm

CAD Camps are 5-day camps for students who wish to use a computer system to design different real world objects.

     -TBD


CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR ANY OF THESE CAMPS


Dates listed are tentative and camps may be added or removed.

For more information contact, Matthew Desjardins at desjardinsm@etsu.edu



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4/9/2018

NISWONGER SCHOLAR, HOPE ADKINS, HONORED WITH THE ALGERNON SYDNEY SULLIVAN AWARD

During Honors Convocation at Carson Newman University on Thursday, April 5, Niswonger Scholar, Hope Adkins, was honored with the highest student award offered at the University, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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4/5/2018

Niswonger Foundation 2018 School Success Symposium

2018 School Success Symposium 

Sponsored by

      and      

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

7:30 to 3:30
Greeneville High School and Niswonger Performing Arts Center
Greeneville, Tennessee
 

We hope you will join us for 
the 2018 School Success Symposium

We are excited to welcome our featured speakers:

  

Liz Murray

Inspirational S
peaker and Best Selling Author,
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, 
Survival and My Journey from Homless to Harvard

Liz Murray's story is exhilarating and inspirational. Her delivery is innocently honest, as she takes audiences on a very personal journey where she achieves the improbable. 

Her memoir, Breaking Night, landed on the New York Times best seller list within a week of its release and quickly became an international bestseller published in twelve countries, in eight languages.

AND

Cicely Woodard

2017-2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year

Cicely Woodard is a 13 year veteran of the Metro Nashville Public Schools and teaches Math at West End Middle School.  Inside and outside of the classroom, Woodard has made a lasting impact as a teacher leader within her school, the district and the entire state.  She was also named a S.C.O.R.E. Fellow in 2013.

 

_________________________________________________ 

Registration will begin at 7:30 
in the Greeneville High School Cafe

Lunch is provided

(Please Let Us Know Via Email If You Have A Special Dietary Need)
(barbara.bates@niswongerfoundation.org or
vivian.franklin@niswongerfoundation.org) 

There will be no cost to attend this event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

REGISTER NOW!

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3/14/2018

Niswonger Foundation Rural LIFE Coach Application Now Available


As part of the i3 Rural LIFE Grant, nine literacy coaches will be selected to work with lead teachers and school districts to improve literacy in grades 6-8 in 19 Upper East Tennessee school districts.


The complete Rural LIFE Coach job description can be downloaded (here)


To apply, please complete the online application by clicking (here)


A background check is also required.  If you have not had a background check please contact rbales@niswongerfoundation.org


Permission to apply must be obtained from your Superintendent and a Superintendent Signature form must be printed, signed and returned to the Selection Committee at application@niswongerfoundation.org

Please download the signature from (here)


Also, a set of Follow-up questions must be submitted after completing the application.  The Follow-up questions will be used as part of the selection process.  Richard Bales will email follow-up questions to your preferred email address included on your application.





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2/27/2018

2018 SCHOOL SUCCESS SYMPOSIUM


Save the Date!


Thirteenth Annual Niswonger Foundation

School Success Symposium


Tuesday, June 19, 2018   ~   8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Niswonger Performing Arts Center And
Greeneville High School


Featured Speakers


Liz Murray

Inspirational Speaker and Best Selling Author

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness

Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

 

Cicely Woodard

2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year


Registration will begin on April 1.

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2/15/2018

REGISTRATION WILL BEGIN MARCH 1 AT https://www.leadershiptennessee.org/summit

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1/10/2018

FIVE NEW NISWONGER SCHOLARS SELECTED

          Sarah
         Douthat 
            Alexis
           Harvey 
             Jasmine
               Martin
                    Aubrie 
                   Strange
                 Rithvik 
                Vutukuri 

NISWONGER FOUNDATION SELECTS FIVE NEW SCHOLARS

The NISWONGER FOUNDATION, founded by Greeneville, Tennessee businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger, has selected five high school seniors to join the Niswonger Scholars program.  Currently, there are 19 Niswonger Scholars, with the newly selected students for 2018 bringing the total to 24.  The Foundation also has 67 Alumni of the program.

Niswonger Scholars are selected through a nomination process that seeks to identify the region’s best and brightest future leaders.  They are given the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for success in their field of study, while participating in a four-year leadership program. Through an emphasis on leadership, educational excellence, business management, community service and ethical decision making, the Scholars are provided travel, training, internships, and personalized support to become model leaders and citizens. 

Unique to other scholarships, the goal of the Niswonger Scholars program is to identify and develop leaders for Northeast Tennessee. These students commit to returning to Northeast Tennessee to work in their chosen career path, one year for each year they receive our scholarship.  The plan is that by enabling these students to pursue their academic passion and by cultivating their leadership abilities, they will be committed to returning to the region as catalysts for the growth and improvement in their home communities.

The five new Northeast Tennessee Scholars are Sarah Douthat, West Greene High School; Alexis Harvey, Unicoi County High School; Jasmine Martin, Morristown East High School; Aubrie Strange, Cocke County High School; Rithvik Vutukuri, Dobyns-Bennett High School.

Sarah Elizabeth Douthat attends West Greene High School. She serves as senior class vice president, was junior class president, and is the student representative for the Greene County School Board. She is vice president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, vice president of First Priority, and chairman of the Parliamentary Procedure team. She has served as secretary, vice president and president of the Future Farmers of America. She was voted “Best All Round” by the senior class.  She is a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and National Society for High School Seniors.  In service to her community she volunteers with Special Olympics, Samaritan’s Purse-Operation Christmas Child Processing Plant, School Clean up Days, and the McDonald Outreach Center. She is a Vacation Bible School teacher. Sarah is the daughter of Beth Douthat and the late Mark Douthat.

Alexis Renee Harvey is a senior at Unicoi County High School. She is president and section leader of the marching band, senior class secretary and homeroom representative for Student Council. She is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club, Book Club, Spanish Club and Student’s Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). She served as secretary for the Christian Student Union. She served as the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy secretary. She is a Track and Field athlete.  Her awards include, Chemistry II Award and the Marching Band’s Most Excellent Junior Award.  Alexis is the daughter of Crystal Winston.

Jasmine Nicole Martin is a student at Morristown East High School. She is a member of Student Council, Spanish Club and Science Club.  She is a Scholars Bowl participant and has been on the honor roll every year since starting school. She was selected as the only middle school student from her school to participate in the Hamblen County High School Scholarship program. Her other awards include, AP English Award and AP Scholar Award. She serves her community by mentoring at Meadowview Middle School, and is employed with two part-time jobs.

Aubrie Claire Strange attends Cocke County High School with a 4.0 GPA.  She is an AP Scholar with Honors, and a Furman Scholar. She is Student Body President, serves as Key Club historian, Cocke County FFA chapter vice president, Spanish Club treasurer, Beta Club secretary, and National Honor Society historian. Aubrie is Yearbook editor and Debate Club assistant clerk. She was a National Qualifier in the Future Business Leaders of America Agribusiness Competition. She serves her community through work with Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs, the Key Club, Volunteer Riders of Knoxville, and CCHS Red Regiment.  Aubrie is the daughter of John and Kim Strange.

Rithvik Vutukuri is a student at Dobyns-Bennett High School. He ranks first in his class and has a 4.0 GPA.  He is a National Merit Semifinalist. Rithvik received the AP Psychology Award, is a National AP Scholar, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He serves as president of the Student Council, and is President of both Mu Alpha Theta and the Beta Club. He is a builder, designer and programmer in Robotics, participated in the Science Olympiad and the National Science Bowl. He plays varsity tennis.  He serves his community through Holston Valley Medical Center, H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills), Operation Gratitude, Middle School Math Day and Rubiks Cube Lessons. Rithvik is the son of Suresh and Sunitha Vutukuri.

Established in 2001, the Niswonger Foundation has a mission “To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education.”  In addition to the Scholarship and Leadership program, the Niswonger Foundation supports educational programs in seventeen Northeast Tennessee school systems. With the motto of “Learn-Earn-Return,” the programs of the foundation are supported by charitable donations, grant funding and personal contributions from Scott M. Niswonger.


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10/11/2017

NISWONGER FOUNDATION RECEIVES EIGHT MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL GRANT TO IMPROVE LITERACY

Scott M. Niswonger, Chairman and Founder of the Niswonger Foundation announced the award of an “Education Innovation and Research” (EIR) Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant, with the required matching funds, will provide more than eight million dollars to assist schools in Northeast Tennessee.  Niswonger stated: “This is a day of tremendous pride as I reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of the Niswonger Foundation. It is gratifying to be recognized nationally for our work in public education but more important to me is that we have another new and powerful opportunity to serve the children in this region, to ensure that they are prepared to be successful in post-secondary education and in their chosen careers.”

The United States Department of Education selected 16 grant recipients from 379 proposals based on recommendations from independent peer review panels.   The 16 successful applications represented 9 states and the District of Columbia.

The Niswonger Foundation is one of only 6 recipients in the “mid-phase” category. This grant will be used to fund a program entitled: Rural LIFE (Literacy Initiative Focused on Effectiveness).  The purpose of the grant is to validate the use of personalized learning strategies, with the goal of focusing on literacy to improve academic achievement for students in grades six through eight. Rural LIFE uses the strategy of deploying technology-enabled literacy-focused personalized learning.  Participating schools will identify specific technology needs as part of their learning model.

The grant will serve eighteen school systems in Northeast Tennessee (Bristol City, Carter County, Cocke County, Elizabethton City, Greene County, Greeneville City, Hamblen County, Hancock County, Hawkins County, Jefferson County, Johnson City, Johnson County, Kingsport City, Newport City, Rogersville City, Sullivan County, Unicoi County, and Washington County). This grant will add another important scope of work to this unique consortium of schools that has drawn national recognition.  The majority of the 73 schools in this project are designated rural and 85% are Title I school-wide. Approximately 19,700 students are served by Rural LIFE-participating schools.

Dr. Nancy Dishner, President and CEO of the Niswonger Foundation, commented on the strength of the Consortium of Northeast Tennessee school systems: “I credit receiving this second federal grant to the tireless efforts of our teachers and school leaders in this region.  We are uniquely positioned to receive national attention because of this joint commitment to teamwork, excellence, and ensuring that every child in Northeast Tennessee has the best opportunity for success.” 

This marks the second U.S. Department of Education grant received by the Niswonger Foundation and the Niswonger Consortium of school systems.  Previously, the Foundation received a twenty-one-million-dollar Investing in Innovation Grant (i3), which was the precursor to this first-round of the EIR grants. The initial Niswonger grant was recently recognized for having five statistically significant research findings. Focused on college and career readiness, the data show that students in the Niswonger Consortium were more likely to: 1) have a higher ACT score; 2) complete an Advanced Placement (AP) course; 3) score 3 or higher on AP courses; 4) enroll in post-secondary education; and 5) persist in post-secondary education.

Dr. Richard Kitzmiller, Niswonger Foundation Vice President, will serve as the Executive Director for this grant.  Kitzmiller has over 40 years of exemplary service in education, including nearly ten years as a district superintendent.  He has been employed at the Niswonger Foundation for six years, including work with the Foundation’s previous federal grant. Kitzmiller stated: “this project offers a unique opportunity.  While the middle grades are critical in the development of students, most reform efforts focus on other grades.  Most of the attention and support is directed to high schools or the earlier grades.”

The Rural LIFE grant will serve Northeast Tennessee for the next five years.


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10/10/2017

NISWONGER FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $500,000 LITERACY GRANTS TO HANCOCK COUNTY SCHOOLS

At a media event held at Hancock County Elementary School, the Niswonger Foundation and Hancock County Schools announced the Niswonger Foundation’s receipt of two significant grants that will focus on kindergarten through second grade literacy development at Hancock County Elementary.  The goal of this effort is increasing third-grade reading proficiency.  A $450,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Annenberg Fund for Schools will provide a total of $500,000 in support of a three-year project that will be overseen by the Niswonger Foundation, in partnership with the Rural School and Community Trust.

The grant from the Annenberg Fund for Schools was used to create a “Book Room” of resources and technology for teaching literacy.  The Walmart Foundation grant will fund a three-year initiative informed by best practices and the most effective program designs, particularly focused on the needs of rural schools.  Fundamental to this effort is the belief that literacy is the single most important factor for ensuring that children have an opportunity for a successful future.

The need for this initiative is strongly supported in the 2016 Tennessee Department of Education report: “Setting the Foundation: A Report of Elementary Grades Reading in Tennessee.” This report stated that by measure of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), only 43 percent of Tennessee third graders and 45 percent of fourth graders perform on grade level in English language arts (ELA).  In the same year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card stated that in 2015, only 33 percent of Tennessee students demonstrated proficiency in reading at the fourth grade level.  This means that more than half of the students in Tennessee’s schools are not comprehending what they are reading by the end of fourth grade

Statistics show that if a student is not proficient in reading at the end of the third grade, he or she is unlikely to make substantial progress towards that goal in the foreseeable future. In addition, Tennessee data indicate that many students earning proficient or advanced at the end of third grade will likely see a decline in the rating by fifth grade.

The reports indicated that only eight percent of students who are performing below grade level when they reach eighth grade will be able to meet the college-readiness benchmark on the ACT reading examination. For purposes of this initiative, literacy is being defined as a student having the ability to read, write, compute, and use technology at a level that enables him/her to reach their full potential.

The Niswonger Foundation and Hancock County Schools have agreed to support each other throughout this process by assisting the teacher, focusing on student learning, and sharing information to learn what works and what does not. Professional development, expert consultation, classroom technology, and instructional materials are being provided through the grants received by the Niswonger Foundation.

This three-year K-2 literacy initiative is designed to improve foundational skills necessary for reading mastery. The Niswonger Foundation is in the second year of a successful pilot project in Greene County. The best practices of that project will support the Hancock County efforts. The program staff and teachers are identifying the “best practices” in early literacy teaching methods.  This initiative also provides teachers with the support they need to ensure engaging and effective instruction. Through a data driven, personalized, and highly supportive process, the end goal is to dramatically improve third grade literacy scores with a program that can be adaptable to other K-2 classrooms, particularly in rural settings.  The major components of the program are:

  • Scheduling: realigning the teaching schedule to meet individualized learning needs of students through the use of Early Learning Groups (ELG’s)
  • Data: Collect, monitor and review multiple sources of data to inform teachers regarding appropriate next steps;
  • Teacher collaboration: Extended planning time for instructional team discussion of data, student needs, strengths/weaknesses, and reinforcing the responsibility for shared decision-making and responsibility;
  • Instructional Assistants: Provide training and support to build abilities and confidence to significant partners in the delivery of instruction and student progress;  
  • Parent/Community Involvement:  Focus on the importance of community engagement. Establish activities for parents/guardians, design volunteer opportunities for community partners; and 
  • Replicability: Design to be replicated in other K-2 classroom settings with a particular focus on the needs of rural education.

Addressing the media were Scott M. Niswonger, Chairman and Founder of the Niswonger Foundation; Rob Mahaffey, Executive Director, Rural School and Community Trust; Tony Seal, Director of Schools for Hancock County, Dr. Vicki Kirk, Tennessee Deputy Commissioner of Education; Sara Hurd, Niswonger/Hancock County Literacy Specialist; David Greene, Jr., Parent; Addilyn Mabe, Second Grade Student; Jackson Jones, First Grade Student; and Dr. Nancy Dishner, President and CEO, Niswonger Foundation. 

Guests on-hand for the media event included Hancock County Commissioners and School Board Members, representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Bob Corker and U.S. Congressman Phil Roe; Niswonger Foundation Board Members and Staff; community members; and family members. 

At the close of the media event, the attendees toured the kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms; and the newly created Book Room. 

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