Thursday, June 23, 2016

[542] MTSU-led K-8 Summer Institute provides ‘impact’ for math teachers

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — For 10 days in June, elementary and middle school teachers from more than five southern Middle Tennessee counties covered a hand-painted brain with sticky notes showing mistakes they had made during each day.

They also adorned the walls of Coffee County Middle School hallways with their individual and team work sheets from the various days’ activities.

To view video about the 2016 MTSU Summer Institute Project Impact, visit

The group of 150 teachers from primarily Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Grundy and Rutherford counties recently completed the fourth year of the MTSU-led and Tennessee Department of Education grant-funded Summer Institute Project Impact.

Teachers attending the institute, which is led by MTSU faculty and graduate students, have seen a marked improvement in their students’ understanding of math.

“We’ve been working hard on mathematics problems and understanding students’ solutions to mathematics problems,” said Dr. Angela Barlow, MTSU Math and Science Education Ph.D. Program director.

“We read vignettes,” Barlow added. “We watch videos, and we talk about the mathematics in those as well as the instructional practices because our goal is to improve student achievement. And we know to do that we need student-centered instruction and that is at the heart of Project Impact.”

Sunshine Robbins, who teaches second-graders at Auburn Elementary School in Auburntown, Tennessee, in Cannon County, said she “likes to come and collaborate with other teachers and get new ideas … critical things I can use in the classroom.”

“I can keep up to date with things that are going on in the math world,” Robbins added.

Murfreesboro resident Keisha Banks, who teaches eighth-graders math at Community Middle School in Unionville, Tennessee, in Bedford County, said attending the workshop “really makes you think … and re-think everything you’ve been taught but in a different way.”

“What I have found beneficial is the multiple teaching strategies, different ways we can respond to students and different resources,” Banks added.

Many of the teachers purchased T-shirts with a Schoolhouse Rock typeface stating “Impact 4 Life” as a theme for the fourth Project Impact. The group’s motto atop the brain in the school’s hallway read: “Mistakes are expected, respected and inspected.”

Barlow said the teachers will convene on a Saturday in August as the school year resumes and MTSU faculty will visit them in their schools in the coming months.

“We will go in and do a demonstration lesson,” Barlow said of the school visits. “Someone from MTSU will teach the lesson while the teachers watch.”

The fifth Summer Institute Project Impact will be held next June. Barlow suggests any K-8 teachers interested in attending should email her at or talk to teachers who are a part of the group.

[541] Youth gain goat insights at MTSU camp

MURFREESBORO — Temperatures hovered around the 90-degree mark outside the Tennessee Livestock Center.

Inside, where air conditioning made it quite comfortable, more than 40 youngsters from across Tennessee spent the entire day Tuesday (June 21) learning techniques about the care of goats and ideas for showing them in competitions from professionals.

The third annual MTSU Goat Day Camp took place in the livestock center’s small animal arena. MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience officials hold the camp to help educate rising fourth- through 12th-graders on grooming, feeding, clipping, washing goats — and more.

MTSU professor Alanna Vaught and alumnus and Oakland High School agriculture faculty member Matt Farris led the breakout sessions and overall instruction.

Following showmanship practice, the showmanship contest was held in pee wee and elementary, middle and high school grade levels.

The student-led Block & Bridle Club sponsors the camp. The Tennessee Farmers’ Cooperative provided awards.

To learn about the 2017 MTSU Goat Day Camp, call 615-898-2523 or email Vaught at

[540] MTSU expands dual-enrollment options to attract homeschooled students

Classes to be held at Miller Education Center on Bell Street

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Starting this fall, area homeschooled high school students will have a chance to earn college credits and “get a slice of MTSU” by taking classes at University College’s new Dual Enrollment Center at Bell Street.

The university’s dual-enrollment program allows high school students, who meet MTSU’s admissions criteria and gain approvals from their guidance counselors, to take college classes before they graduate, thus earning high school and college credits at the same time.

Classes are offered online and this past year began being offered at schools in Rutherford and Williamson counties.

Now, with the opening of the Andrew Woodfin Miller Sr. Education Center on Bell Street earlier this year, University College has established a Dual Enrollment Center inside the building that will hold three sections of classes this fall.

Classes that will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays for fall semester include introductory college courses in psychology, music and communication. Like other dual-enrollment classes, all three courses satisfy general education requirements at MTSU and can also be transferred to any state institution.

MTSU officials hope the Miller Education Center’s centralized location away from the main campus with easy parking and accessibility as attractive draws to homeschooled students and their parents.

“We really envision a majority, if not all of the students, that fill up these classes will be homeschooled students,” said Matt Hannah, coordinator of dual enrollment in University College, adding that the university recently hosted a booth and was a sponsor of a curriculum fair held in Nashville by the Middle Tennessee Home Education Association.

“Dual enrollment has been around for a while, but this past academic year we’ve put more of an emphasis on growing that program and really communicating the benefits of that,” he said.

One benefit, Hannah noted, is the dual-enrollment grant offered by the state. Last spring, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced a supplemental scholarship provide by the university that can be coupled with the grant to make the first two MTSU dual-enrollment courses (for six credit hours) tuition free.

Hannah also pointed out that homeschooled students who meet prerequisite standards can use the grant toward any introductory level classes offered at the university, a smart option for students interested in courses such as graphic design that may not be available through their home education.
The Dual Enrollment Center will work directly with homeschooled students with the admissions process and pair them with advisers to help them choose the right classes and keep them on track with their coursework.

Dual-enrollment students also have the same access as traditional undergraduates to most student services, such as the library, writing center, math labs and recreation center.

For more information about MTSU’s Dual Enrollment Program, go to or email
or call 615-898-5246.

[539] MTSU alumni summer activities heat up across Tennessee

MURFREESBORO — The MTSU Alumni Association is planning a summer of fun for alumni and friends of the university.

Events will include:

• An alumni night in Memphis, Tennessee, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, for the musical theatre performance of “The Wizard of Oz” featuring alumnus Justin Nelson (Class of 2011). Nelson, a Memphis native, plays the role of the Mayor of Munchkin City.

• An alumni mixer at Silky O’Sullivan’s from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, at 183 Beale St., in Memphis.

• Special alumni nights at baseball games being played in Nashville (Sounds versus the Omaha Storm Chasers) at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at First Tennessee Park, 19 Junior Gilliam Way, and in Chattanooga at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at AT&T Field, 201 Power Alley, as the Lookouts play the Mobile Bay Bears.

• Outings at Nashville Shores 10 a.m. Friday, July 8, and Dollywood/Splash Country in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, are scheduled. Discounted tickets for Dollywood/Splash Park can be used any day in July, but must be purchased by Saturday, June 25.

• The annual Pigskin Pre-Game from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at The Grove at Williamson Place, 3250 Williamson Pike, Murfreesboro.

Reservation details, including ticket prices for the various events, can be found at

“We love to organize events that are family friendly and fun for our alumni, friends and families,” said Paul Wydra, MTSU Alumni Relations assistant director

“We have had great past success with these events, and this year we were able to add Dollywood Splash Country as well, and the savings from a buying-at-the-door ticket is great,” he added. “Last year we had 175 people at our Nashville Sounds event and more than 50 at Nashville Shores, so we are happy that people love to take advantage of these great opportunities.”

For more information, call 615-898-2922.

[538] MTSU, family welcome McDonald home after monthlong aerial journey

MURFREESBORO — He has flown a family-owned, four-seat airplane 6,600 miles. He has touched and been touched by the past, present and future of aviation.

MTSU senior Collin McDonald flew to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where Orville and Wilbur Wright’s plane took flight in 1903. He toured aviation museums around the country. He spent time at the Grand Canyon and other U.S. landmarks. He wrote a blog, conducted research for an Honors College thesis and promoted aviation to young people and adults.

And someday when he has children and grandchildren, the young man who admits to becoming a storyteller on this nearly monthlong voyage will have volumes of stories to tell about how he retraced the flight path of aviation pioneer Cal Rodgers in flying from Long Island, New York, to Long Beach, California,

On Thursday (June 16), the Carthage, Tennessee, native arrived back home at Murfreesboro Airport to the hugs and adoration of MTSU students, faculty and staff from aerospace and the Honors College, and his immediate family.

“I’m excited to be home. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed,” McDonald said. “One of the lessons I learned is that you can always fly tomorrow if there’s an issue. … I’m looking forward to the next step (in the thesis project), but I’m glad to complete this part.”

McDonald completed his transcontinental, Vin Fiz 2 quest June 11 in Long Beach. He called the trip Vin Fiz 2 because Rodgers’ plane was call The Vin Fiz.
For more on his trip, visit