Dual enrollment grows 800% at Motlow

Dual enrollment has increased at Motlow State by 800 percent. (File Photo)

EDUCATION | Motlow College’s Dual Enrollment already outpaces every other community college in the state. This week, the Moore County-based school announced that the number of students who graduated from Motlow the same semester as they graduated high school grew a phenomenal 800 percent. Dual enrollment partnerships allow high school students to take college courses in their junior and senior year to get a jumpstart on their college education.

After eight students accomplished dual graduations in 2019, Pack, working with partners from area high schools and industry, focused on increasing that dual graduation rate. In May 2020, 65 students graduated from Motlow and their high school, an increase of 800%. Leading the way in this growth was LaVergne High School, where 42 students graduated with associate degrees in General Studies.

“Motlow continues to create partnerships with high schools in our service area so any student that wants to take college courses while in high school has the opportunity to do that,” said Dual Enrollment Director Sally Pack. “We appreciate the professionals in these high schools and in industry who help support and promote dual enrollment to their students. The growth that we are experiencing is exciting.”

Pack recently worked with partners from area high schools and local industry to increase that dual graduation rate.

“We are so pleased that our dual enrollment efforts are providing these wonderful opportunities for students,” said Melody Edmonds, assistant vice president of Academic Affairs. “The team is dedicated to student success, and the students are supported throughout their dual enrollment experience.  We look forward to further expanding dual enrollment avenues in the future.”

One significant driver of the dramatic increase is Motlow’s Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program. Designed for high school juniors, the program allows students to obtain a degree in Mechatronics at no cost while completing their final two years of high school. In May 2020, 11 high school seniors became the first graduates from the Middle College Mechatronics program, funded by a grant awarded to Motlow in 2018.

A second factor in the rising rates of Motlow DE is the early scholarship opportunities it offers. Student who sign up for DE classes are often eligible for several tuition-free courses. DE students are more likely to enroll in college after high school graduation as opposed to taking a ‘gap’ year, or a year off. Studies show that taking a gap year can cost students over $90,000 of their lifetime earning potential.

The 11 Middle College Mechatronics graduates included students from Oakland, Franklin County, and Warren County high schools. Additional high schools with 2020 dual enrollment graduates were Tullahoma, DeKalb County, Cannon County, and F.C. Boyd Christian School in McMinnville.

For more information, visit Motlow State’s website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow Completion Coach Angélica Dotson uses personal experience to encourage students

Angelica Dotson uses her experiences as a Hispanic student in southern, middle Tennessee to encourage other Motlow College students. (Photo Provided)

EDUCATION | Motlow State Completion Coach Angélica Dotson knows what it is like to be treated as an outsider … to feel like you don’t fit in. She draws from and shares her experiences as a second-generation American to improve student success at Motlow. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, she spoke about her experiences and how they help her encourage Motlow students to overcome adversity.

“I grew up in a bicultural home,” said Dotson, who works at Motlow’s Smyrna campus and has been with the college since 2013. “At times, I felt like Americans did not quite accept me because I was too Mexican, and Hispanics did not quite accept me because I was too American. I always felt as if I had to prove myself, and I do my best to use my experiences to help encourage students. You can be brown and be successful.”

Motlow’s Latino student population has almost tripled since 2015. The National Center for Education Statistics says Latino students are one of only two demographic groups that have shown an increase in college attendance in recent years. Motlow is ahead of the national growth and well-positioned to expand its minority student enrollment.

“There was a time when I dropped out of college,” continued Dotson. “I felt that I could not be my true self and be successful in passing college courses or landing a job. Dropping out was a poor decision, but it did lead me to some positive revelations.

“It was around that time that I finally realized that I could not deny being brown, Latino, a minority. Once I accepted that, it unlocked a powerful force inside of me,” she added. “I rediscovered myself and my culture. I found my voice and embraced it. Everything turned around for me as I returned to college and graduated.”

Dotson’s father is from Celaya, Guanajuato, México, and was adopted by an American family when he was three years old. Her mother is from Zacatecas, México, and grew up near the United States’ southern border and immigrated to America for survival and opportunities.

 “I find that my past experiences help encourage students, whether they are a person of color, a non-traditional student, or a traditional student coming to Motlow from high school. I understand that sometimes people expect minorities to fail, and we must work harder than others to succeed. I do my best to encourage all students who are struggling, but I especially try to remind the LatinX community that they can overcome adversity.”

“The number of Hispanic students enrolled in college rose from 3.17 million in 2016 to 3.27 million in 2017, making them only one of two demographic groups that saw an increase in college attendance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s more than double the 1.4 million Latino students who attended college in 2000,” according to USA Today.

The study showed about 70 percent of Latino undergraduates in higher education come from families in the bottom half of earners, according to data analyzed by the college lobbying group, the American Council on Education. That is comparable to the black population, where nearly 75 percent of students come from the bottom half of earners.

Nearly half of Latino students are the first in their family to go to college, and just under half were eligible for federal Pell Grants, money only given to those with a high financial need. Only 22 percent of Hispanics over the age of 25 have an associate degree or higher compared to 40 percent of the general population.

Motlow actively invests in inclusion training and accessibility planning. These efforts foster a diverse student body and promote cultural literacy among all graduates. Motlow’s goal is to provide the learning opportunities and support programs needed to encourage all residents to pursue a college degree or short-term certificate that leads to high-demand jobs. Dotson’s story is evidence of the importance of academic success. There is no better time to pursue higher education. Motlow offers Reconnect Scholarships for adults without degrees, tutoring, ESL programs, learning support courses, one-on-one advising, and personal college completion coaches. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Board approves Raider wrestling team

Students at Moore County High School will now have another sports option. The Metro School Board approved the addition of a wrestling team on Monday night. (File Photo)

SPORTS | Scholastic wrestling is a character building sports. It requires toughness, dedication, and many former wrestlers say it helped them develop self esteem, work ethic, leadership skills, and sportsmanship.

These are just the types of characteristic MCHS Athletic Director Josh Deal is looking to instill in his student athletes. As such, on Monday night, the Moore County Board of Education approved his request to start a Raider wrestling team. Deal said he started researching a team after being approached by several interested students.

“I’ve put out feelers and had conversations and as of today we have around 20-25 interested wrestlers including five girls,” Deal said.

MCHS Football Coach Kris White and area wrestling coach and MCHS alumni Kevin Pearson would volunteer to coach the wrestlers.

“It’s a great way for athletes who aren’t interested in basketball to gain strength and stay conditioned in the winter,” Pearson added.

The wrestling program would be open to students in grades 8-12 and would begin in November and extend through February. According to Deal in the first year, the wrestler would travel to area matches at schools like Eagleville and Cascade. Unlike group sports, wrestler compete based on weight class and not regions.

The first obstacle for the new team will be fund raising. Deal stated the cost to participate individually for personal equipment would be around $125. To host matches at MCHS, the school system would need to purchase a wrestling mat.

“There are guidelines for the mat,” said Deal. “Right now, the ones I’ve searched are around $9,000.”

Deal also stated at Tullahoma High School had agreed to let the new wrestling team borrow and practice mat until a permanent one could be purchased.

If you are interested in supporting the new sports program with their upstart expenses or have a student interested in wrestling, contact Athletic Director Josh Deal at MCHS at 931-759-4231. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

WIRED: Motlow increases student access to WiFi

Motlow’s Moore County campus expanded student Wi-Fi access to the parking lot on both sides of the Marcum Technology Center. (File Photo)

EDUCATION | The Washington Post reported this month that record numbers of low-income students are dropping out of college due to a lack of access to good Wi-Fi, stating, “As the fall semester gets into full swing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, schools are noticing a concerning trend: Low-income students are the most likely to drop out or not enroll at all, raising fears that they might never get a college degree.”

Motlow State plans to address the trend by increasing their student’s access to free, public Wi-Fi. Motlow’s Moore County campus expanded student Wi-Fi access to the parking lot on both sides of the Marcum Technology Center. Students who do not have access to Wi-Fi are encouraged to come to the campus, remain in their parked car, and use the free Motlow Wi-Fi by signing in with their email username and password.

They also added a physical paperwork drop box on its Moore County’s campus to to drop off paperwork related to admission applications, class registrations, and financial aid. The Dropbox is not available for individual class items such as writing assignments and homework.

Motlow Drop Box
They also added a physical paperwork drop box on its Moore County’s campus to to drop off paperwork related to admission applications, class registrations, and financial aid. (Photo Provided)

“We are thrilled to offer these new avenues for students to communicate with the College and with each other,” said Scott Shasteen, director of communications. “Motlow’s continuous focus on student success is strengthened by these evolving strategies. If one student in our Moore County area drops out because of a lack of internet access, then it is highly unlikely they will ever return to College. We can’t let that happen.”

Some 100,000 fewer high school seniors completed financial aid applications to attend College this year, according to a National College Attainment Network analysis of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data through August. Students from families with incomes under $75,000 are nearly twice as likely to say they “canceled all plans” to take classes this fall as students from families with incomes over $100,000, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey in late August.

At Motlow, we want the story to be different,” said Terri Bryson, vice president of External Affairs.  “Student success is our mission. Every student needs to be a success story. We want to ensure that everyone can access Wi-Fi and can drop documents off at our campuses 24/7.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Board of Education meets on Monday

LOCAL NEWS | The Metro Board of Education will meet on Monday at 6 p.m. in a regular session meeting at the Lynchburg Elementary School Cafeteria. To view the complete agenda, click here.

In new business, the board will discuss a potential Moore County High School wrestling program as well as procedures and rules for displaying signage and displays in the new MCHS Gym. The board will also discuss the 2020 Local Education Agency Compliance Report.

Director of Schools Chad Moorehead will as report on school construction projects and the 2021-22 instructional calendar.

All Metro School Board meetings are open to the general public and may also be attended virtually. To address the board with public comment, click here. For more information, contact the Moore County School Central Office at 931-759-7303. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Flu shots available for Moore County students

Free flu shots will be given at all Moore County School next week – October 13 at MCHS and October 15 at LES. (File Graphic)

LOCAL NEWS — Flu season is right around the corner and most doctors recommend getting your flu vaccine by late October to ensure maximum effectiveness as cases begin to spike in November and continue to increase through February.

The Moore County Health Department will visit all three locals schools to administer free flu shots for anyone who wants them on October 13 and 15. Staff distributed forms to Lynchburg Elementary students on Tuesday, October 6 and to Moore County Middle School and Moore County High School students on Wednesday, October 7. All completed forms must be turned into school officials by Friday, October 9, according to Moore County School Nurse Shea Logan.

Flu shot will be given at MCMS and MCHS on Tuesday, October 13 and at LES on Thursday, October 15. For more information, call the Moore County Schools Central Office at 931-759-7303. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow’s Oscar Meza-Abarca cherishes Hispanic heritage as first-generation student

Oscar Meza-Abarca is part of a growing number of Hispanic students attending Motlow College. Since 2015, Motlow State’s Hispanic student population has almost tripled. (Photo courtesy of Motlow)

EDUCATION | Hispanic enrollment is growing nationally and Motlow State is no exception. It’s Hispanic numbers have almost triples in the past five years. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the college recently shared with us the story of one of it’s first generation students.

Oscar Meza-Abarca is part of a growing number of Hispanic students attending college. Since 2015, Motlow State’s Hispanic student population has almost tripled, and nationally the number of Hispanic students has more than doubled since 2000.

Oscar moved to Lincoln County from Huntsville with his family after his freshman year in high school. After graduating from Lincoln County High School in 2019, he became the first member of his family to attend college when he enrolled at Motlow’s Fayetteville campus in Fall 2019.

Now Oscar is a Dean’s List student on a path to graduate Motlow with an associate degree in mathematics in May 2021. He plans to transfer to MTSU and earn a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in Mathematics and become a teacher. He believes his Hispanic heritage has played a significant role in his success.

“When I was growing up, I had to speak Spanish at home and English at school,” said Oscar. “My parents, who migrated to the United States in 1998, can understand a little bit of English, but they can’t speak it. I have been their translator most of my life, and that role has helped me to become a people person and a better communicator.”

As a first-generation college student, Oscar dealt with educational adversity because his parents didn’t know much about college. They couldn’t answer his questions about college. “Part of my motivation for completing my education is to be able to help my younger brother complete his,” Oscar adds.

He was born in Utah and moved with his family to the Huntsville-Madison area in 2004. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1998. Oscar recently started working as an Educational Assistant at a local elementary school, a significant step for him into the education profession. He assists with students from Pre-K to 4th grade.

“Being Hispanic is something I cherish,” Oscar continued. “The Hispanic community where I live is tiny and everyone knows each other. My time as a translator and my ability to communicate through multiple languages enable me to contribute to Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities.

“I always encourage people to go to Motlow for the first two years of college. My experience is that Motlow faculty and staff care about the future of their students and will show you the correct steps to help you achieve your education goals.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Students can now earn their high school equivalency virtually in all 95 TN counties

The state of Tennessee recently announced that adult learners in all 95 counties can now acquire their high school equivalency online. (File Photo)

EDUCATION | Learn online. Graduate online. That’s the motto of the new Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development statewide campaign to make adult education available to everyone … especially during the pandemic.

The state of Tennessee recently announced that adult learners in all 95 counties can now acquire their high school equivalency online and Moore County Public Library can help.

“There are still several adult education programs whose classrooms are closed due to COVID-19,” said Jay Baker, interim Assistant Commissioner of Adult Education. “We want everyone interested in improving their math, literacy, and English language skills to know they never have to leave home and they can still work to change their future. And that includes earning a high school equivalency diploma—all of it can be done completely online.”

The Moore County Public Library works as an adult education provider in our area in association with the Lincoln County Literacy Council.

“At this time, it is up to the teacher and student whether they meet face-to-face,” says Moore Library Director Peggy Gold. “But online is an option and if we have a Moore County resident interested, the teacher may be willing to meet them here at the library.”

The online exam is identical to the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)taken in physical testing centers in terms of content, format, on-screen experience, and scoring

“Earning a high school equivalency diploma can really change a person’s life,” Baker added. “An adult who has a diploma can earn much higher wages and unlock more opportunities for education and career advancement.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s HiSET Voucher Program covers all costs associated with the exams. To receive a voucher from a local Adult Education program, a test taker must be a Tennessee resident and demonstrate test preparedness through a qualifying practice test.

To learn more, call the TDLWD at 800-531-1515 and they will connect you with someone at the local adult education provider. You can also contact the Moore County Public Library at 931-759-7285. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow wins public relations awards

The graphic design elements outside Motlow’s Automation and Robotics Training Center are just one of the PR elements that won them recent awards. (Photo Courtesy of Motlow College)

EDUCATION | Motlow College’s communication team recently won 14 marketing-related awards from the Tennessee College Public Relations Association (TCPRA).

“Our messaging must be worthy of trust, time, and community attention,” said Terri Bryson, vice president of External Affairs. “It is important to stop and hold ourselves accountable to the scrutiny of experts in communication and marketing. Our team pours its heart into creative, accessible, high-quality, motivating storytelling that prompts a clear call to action. So, these awards are more than trophies for us. We deeply value the opinions of experts and the process of peer review. It helps us work with confidence. We want to make a difference in the lives of others. To do that, we must prove we are worthy of their trust. This recognition helps us know we are building the right bridges.”

Knoxville newspaper the Knoxville New Sentinel judged the awards and Motlow competed against all Tennessee colleges and universities including UT and MTSU. They won top honors in banner/outdoor (Motlow robotics display), digital ad series (Motlow 50 Stories ads), overall promotional campaign (Motlow 50th Anniversary), print ad series (Motlow 50 Stories ads), and print advertisement (Motlow Site Selection double spread).

“Our team understands the importance of quality and outcomes measures in the College’s messaging,” said Scott Shasteen, director of Communications. “Motlow has an enormous breadth of programs and services. Each one can change lives and launch great careers. Our mission is to curate and target information to resonate with those in need and inspire action. Cultivating that motivated connection requires creative, engaging, and responsive storytelling.”

Formed in 1975, TCPRA is an alliance of communicators who represent the colleges and universities, public and private, two-year technical schools, technology centers, and community colleges that together define higher education in Tennessee.

“We must reach the right people with the right messaging using the right mediums and do it consistently over time so that we build community trust and nurture prospective student ambitions,” said Davis Seal, director of Operations. “It is a big challenge in a world filled with noise and information clutter.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

WHISKEY MAKING 101: Motlow joins MTSU, Columbia State in $300K USDA fermentation science grant

Motlow State Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher will lead the fermentation science partnership with MTSU and Columbia State. A $300,000 USDA grant will fund the project. {Photo Provided}

EDUCATION | Motlow State is located in Lynchburg – the unofficial whiskey capitol of the world – and right in the heart of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. So, it only makes sense that they’d be the perfect educational partner for a fermentation science programs.

The USDA just awarded a $300,000 grant to Motlow, MTSU, and Columbia State with an eye toward attracting future agricultural students to the Fermentation Science Program, according to a recent press release.

It’s a three-year, $300,000 grant proposed by MTSU’s Tony Johnston, who is partnering with Motlow Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher and Columbia State’s Karen Kendall-Fite, with faculty from all three schools participating.

“Our collaboration in this grant award is part of a larger, long-term vision. We are very intentional about our plan to introduce a variety of Fermentation and Distillery Science learning opportunities,” said Motlow President Dr. Michael Torrence. “Our vision includes broadening short-term certificate training opportunities, as well as the development of new degree programs. Those programs will specifically seek to cultivate the success of minority and underserved populations in these fields.”

The grant increases awareness of agriculture and introduces fermentation concepts into lower-division undergraduate math and science classes at Columbia State and Motlow, and drives fermentation science as a career option.

“Students, in general, aren’t aware of what fermentation science is, much less that it’s agricultural,” said Johnston, professor, and director of the MTSU Fermentation Science program. “The grant seeks to get more students interested in agriculture as a career.

 “Agriculture is an applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field, but it is not traditionally viewed this way,” Johnston said. “The grant provides an opportunity to connect the dots between STEM courses and agriculture and raise awareness of and increase the potential for a student to become interested in the applied STEM career that is fermentation science.”

Johnston said part of the grant would go toward classroom equipment — smartphones and scientific equipment — for Motlow and Columbia State students to learn about chemistry, biology, and math through applications of Fermentation in their freshmen- and sophomore-level courses. The funds will also pay for faculty training.

For more information about this exciting new opportunity, contact Nathan Fisher, Motlow Chemistry Professor, at 615-220-7879 or nfisher@mscc.edu. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}