State Report: Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement

Two years ago, Tennessee set an ambitious goal. Through the Drive to 55 Alliance, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect set a mission to get 55 percent of Tennessean equipped with a college degree of certification by the year 2025.

Many Moore County High School students use the Tennessee Promise program to attend Motlow State and area technical schools. {Photo Provided}

A recent Tennessee Comptroller report shows that Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement if Tennessee’s going to reach that goal.

The Tennessee General Assembly created Tennessee Promise in 2014 in order to encourage more high school graduates to earn an associates degree or technical diploma. Tennessee Promise scholarships offer two years of tuition-free attendance at area community colleges or technical schools including Motlow College in Moore County.

It’s sister program, Tennessee Reconnect, helps more adult learners attend community college and technical schools to earn a certification or postsecondary degree tuition-free.

TN Promise led to more college-going citizens

According to the report, more high graduates attend college as a result of Tennessee Promise. Tennessee’s college-going rate increased from 58.4 percent to 64.3 percent in the first year of the program. It also states that those students are accumulating more college credits, staying enrolled longer, and earning postsecondary credential at a higher rate than other high school graduates.

The report recommends increasing Tennessee Promise participation rates among students from certain subgroups and areas of the state who do not historically attend college including applicants with low ACT scores, minority applicants, and those from lower income households.

It also states that the program requirements most often missed by Tennessee Promise applicants were mandatory meetings and the community service requirement.

They identified several barriers to success such as the full-time enrollment requirement in the summer term and costs not covered by the
Promise program. Adjustments to those elements of the program, among
others, would likely allow more students to remain Promise-eligible and
enrolled in college, the report says.

It also states that first-seminars that teach the skills necessary for college success and hiring completion coaches are best practices that have been helpful at some community colleges.

The report offers solution for the General Assembly, mentor organizations, colleges, and technical schools. To read the full report, click here. •

{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 adds video and chat to financial aid office info options

Motlow’s new chatbot offers students 24/7 financial aid answers for the fall semester and beyond. They also added a new video portal. {File Photo}

MOORE COUNTY — Would be Motlow students can now get financial aid questions answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with the college’s new GetAnswers video portal and AI chatbot services. The two news way to contact Motlow are in response to the overwhelming interest in students seeking to attend fall classes, they said in a press release.

“The GetAnswers Video portal hosts short informational videos on a wide range of financial aid topics ranging from the financial aid process to personal finance,” said Motlow Executive Director of Financial Aid Joe Myers. “The videos have an option for Spanish in the closed caption and the transcript. Viewers may select one of the suggested playlists or search for specific topics to begin watching.

“The Artificial Intelligent Chatbot is an engaging tool to have financial aid questions answered anytime. The Chatbot has an extensive knowledge base that is always growing. Still, in the event it cannot provide an answer to a financial aid related topic, it can facilitate the connection with one of our financial aid counselors for additional individualized assistance.”

The priority deadline for financial aid passed on July 15. Students who submitted all paperwork by then have the best chance of being processed when fall classes start in late August. Students who provide financial aid information after July 15 may not have complete financial aid when classes begin and may have to pay their tuition and fees before their processing of financial assistance is finalized.

Fall classes will begin at Motlow on August 24 with a blend of online and on-campus classes scheduled. The College has created a health-assessment form that all students, employees, and visitors will be required to complete daily before arriving on campus. All students, employees, and visitors to any Motlow campus are required to submit the health assessment before coming on campus. Mask wearing and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

To learn more about the new financial aid options click here. To learn more about the new social distancing and health guidelines click here. •

{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 medical lab tech program earns accreditation

Motlow officials say Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor has been instrumental in developing their new Medical Lab Technology Program. It recently earned national accreditation. {Photo Provided}

MOORE COUNTY — Interested in a high-wage, high-demand medical or health-related career? Good news … you can attend a nationally accredited program right here in Moore County.

The Motlow State Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program cleared a significant hurdle in April when it earned full accreditation with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). 

“We encourage anyone who has an interest in a medical or health-related career to explore the Medical Laboratory Technology program,” said MLT Program Director Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor. “Motlow’s MLAB 1301 pre-requisite course is an excellent way for students to find out more about this exciting and fulfilling career opportunity.”

Dr. Tutor spearheaded the development of the high-wage, high-demand program, which officially began in the fall 2018 semester with the seven graduates.  Every member of the class earned national certification through either the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or American Medical Technologists (AMT).  Both certifications are recognized by the Tennessee State Medical Laboratory Board for applicants seeking an MLT license. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Employment Statistics website, the forecasted growth nationally in MLT employment over the next ten years is almost 14 percent.

Many employers require certification because they know that certified allied health professionals are committed to their profession and patient care. Certified individuals also tend to enjoy higher wages and more significant promotional opportunities.

For more information on the MLT program at Motlow, click here or go to or contact Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor at ktudor@mscc.edu, or 615-220-7912. •

{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 financial aid deadline approaches

Motlow State campus
Students will return to Motlow State in the fall with a mixture of traditional and online learning. {Photo Provided}

MOORE COUNTY — If you are considering registering for the Motlow State fall semester, college officials want you to focus on two words … simple and free. Applying to take classes is both incredibly simple and absolutely free.

Motlow State strives to be an engine that helps drive the economy of Moore County and Middle Tennessee. Despite the medical and social challenges of spring and summer, the time is now for action in preparation for fall. Whether you are in high school, a recent high school graduate, an adult without a degree, or looking to upgrade your work skills, Motlow has a program to fit your needs and your lifestyle, they said in a press release.

“We are asking our Middle Tennessee communities to help us spread this important message,” said Vice-President of External Affairs Terri Bryson. “The Financial Aid priority deadline is July 15, and students can best ensure their paperwork will be processed and approved by the start of fall classes by beginning the process now. Simple and free is our message. Most of our students attend tuition-free through the dual enrollment program, Tennessee Promise, and Tennessee Reconnect. There has never been a better time to enroll at Motlow.”

According to Motlow officials, fall plans include a mixture of on-campus, online, and blended courses; social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines on campus; a robust cleaning schedule for all facilities; daily health check-ins; and free online tutoring and online placement testing.

Classes will begin on August 24 and originally planned and end on December 4 with final exams beginning the next day, December 5.

The new fall plan, course-description terminology, and highlights of education options for all segments of society are featured on a new information portal by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, 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 now offers college placement exam remotely

The ACCUPLACER assessment helps gauge a student’s readiness for college-level work. Students may now take it remotely through Motlow State. {Photo Provided}

MOORE COUNTY — Planning on attending Motlow State in the fall? Then you’ll need to take the ACCUPLACER assessment test prior to enrolling. And now, Motlow makes it easier than every with remote testing.

The test measures a student’s readiness for college-level work. Students enrolling for the fall 2020 semester who need to take the test should sign up as soon as possible.

Before taking the test, students should have a completed admission application, official high school and/or college transcripts, and, if applicable, official test scores on file in Motlow’s admissions office. Accommodations are available for students who require other than standard conditions for taking the test.

Incoming first-year students can take the placement assessment from the convenience of their home or another internet source. The results of the placement assessment help advisors match student goals and academic readiness with the right course plan. The assessment provides a benchmark for reading, writing, and math class decision-making. New students taking the ACCUPLACER are reminded that placement assessment is about getting placed into the right classes. The assessment can help you avoid courses you don’t need and help you focus on classes that will help you succeed.

“Achievement testing is used to get into college. Placement testing is more focused on getting students into the right classes,” said Belinda Champion, Director of Disability, Testing, and Counseling Services at Motlow. “We want students to take the right course at the right time. Placement planning allows us to meet a student where they are now, and develop a curriculum plan that supports them through to their ultimate goal.”

Students who are 21 years and older take all three portions (reading, writing, and math) unless they have valid ACT scores on file or college credit from an accredited college or university. Students 21 years and older can also request advising without the use of placement assessments. There is a $25 testing fee due when scheduling the appointment. For more information, visit the Motlow Testing website or call 931-393-1763 or 800-654-4877 ext. 1763. •

{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 now offers at-home college aptitude testing

Belinda Champion
Belinda Champion

MOORE COUNTY — For obvious health reason, pandemics are awful, no-good things. But sometimes, they lead to innovations. This is the case with Motlow College’s Belinda Champion who recently launched at-home college placement testing.

Motlow accepts achievement test results such as the ACT and SAT. As an alternative to those measures, it also offers placement testing using the Accuplacer, a tool to help college advisors match course planning to a student’s skills and ambitions.

Aspiring college student can now take the ACCUPLACER test in the privacy and safety of their own homes. It’s a computer testing system that helps determine student academic readiness in reading, sentence skills, and mathematics for college-level work. Test results determine which courses are best suited to the student’s level of preparedness.

For some, college achievement tests like the ACT or SAT can be a psychological barrier to college-going ambitions. Poor achievement scores often demoralize students and derail college dreams. Champion, Director of Disability, Testing, and Counseling Services at Motlow, insists that this is unnecessary.

“Tennessee is a college-enabling state,” said Champion. “We are national leaders in ensuring access to college for everyone. We have already tackled the barriers associated with the cost of college through free-tuition scholarships like TNPromise for high schoolers, and TNReconnect for adult students. Now we are tackling the barriers associated with college entrance tests.”

Champion says if students have prior test scores they don’t like, remember that score is a measure of your performance on that day and is not a measure of your potential for the future.

“There are a lot of reasons why people might have poor placement scores or even no placement scores. I work with a lot of students that have taken achievement tests under very challenging circumstances,” continued Champion. “My staff are experts at helping students rewrite their college placement testing story.”

For the next available test dates and registration, please visit the Motlow State testing website at mscc.edu/testing or call 931-393-1763 or 1-800-654-4877 ext. 1763. The last day to apply for Motlow’s Summer semester is May 18. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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 honors society named one of the world’s best

MOORE COUNTY — Excellence and scholarship among two-year college students like those at Motlow State Community College … that what the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society is all about. And Motlow’s one of the top in the world, according to their recent convention.

The 2020 International PTK Virtual Catalyst Convention recently recognized the Motlow chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society and its leadership as one of the top 100 chapters in the world. The announcement happened at their yearly Catalyst Convention – a yearly event that happen each spring. It draws thousands of scholars from around the world to represent their chapters, their institutions, and their regions. This year the convention was held online due to the pandemic.

“The Catalyst convention was an excellent wrap up to an amazing year,” said Gregg Garrison, associate professor of biology and Motlow PTK advisor and Tennessee PTK regional coordinator. “This was the best award recognition year we have ever had. Although we were disappointed that we could not be at the actual event this year, we were fortunate to still experience the streamed event from the safety of our own homes. Afterward, I hosted a zoom meeting with the Motlow attendees and several other members and advisors from across the state so we could celebrate together. The experience was amazing.”

Fifteen representatives from Motlow PTK attended the virtual event with more than 3,700 representatives from 1,300 chapters in multiple nations.

Members of the Motlow PTK chapter of Phi Theta Kappa also attended the 2020 Tennessee Regional Convention at Dyersburg State Community College, Feb. 21-23, for a weekend of team building and fellowship with other chapters from colleges across the state.

Motlow PTK advisors and students recently attended the annual Regional PTK convention at Dyersburg State Community College. Pictured are (seated left to right) Barry McKinley, Matthew Bobo, Dasha Grayson, and Hannah Green (standing left to right) Gregg Garrison, Dayron Deaton-Owens, Robin Keel, Misty Griffith, Ashley Cain, Jamaya Blackwell, Heather Whittaker, Nick Locke, Keira Pfefferkorn, Madelyn Wood, Sonja Edge, Laura Brown, and Matilde Olea Guevara. {Photo Provided}

“The Regional Convention was also an amazing experience that allowed Motlow PTK members to travel and meet with members from eleven other colleges from across the state,” Garrison added. “Students were able to share ideas about making their chapter stronger, listen to engaging session speakers, be involved with the election process of regional officers, and celebrate with each other during the awards banquet.”

Two Motlow students were elected as Tennessee Regional Officers for the upcoming year, Madelyn Wood, vice president for Middle Tennessee, and Keira Pferrerkorn, secretary for Tennessee. Motlow PTK students received the following awards at the regional convention:Rebekah Randall, First Place, Publication in Creative Non-fiction; First Place, Distinguished Officer Award, and Keira PferrerKorn, First Place, Extemporaneous Speech Competition. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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 instructor wins science grant

Omar Tantawi, Motlow Mechatronics Instructor {Photo Provided}

Regionally, there’s a shortage of qualified, well-trained robotics technicians. Thanks to a recent $108,000 National Science Foundation Grant, Motlow College and Principal Investigator Omar Tantawi plan to change that. The award is the second federal grant that Motlow’s Mechatronics department has received in the last two years, bringing the total federal funds granted to more than $650,000.

The money will fund train-the-trainer workshops on intelligent industrial robotics at Motlow’s Smyrna campus and will fund a collaborative robot unit.

“We are very pleased to work with other community colleges and universities to offer this robotics training to support our high-technology industries,” said Fred Rascoe, dean of career and technical programs. “I am very excited to be a part of a wonderful consortium of educators and technology experts in robotics. The delivery of this training is exactly what industry needs to continue its delivery of products and processes in a cost-effective and efficient manner.”

Motlow’s lasered in on becoming a leading institution in mechatronics and robotics on both the state and the national levels as well as leading the charge in regional workforce development.

The project is a diverse collaboration of four academic institutions: Motlow, UT Chattanooga, Chattanooga State, and Lawson State. It impacts major manufacturers in the eastern and central regions of Tennessee and Alabama through training for high-demand skills to sustain the development of the regions’ manufacturing industry.

Work within the project includes developing intelligent robotics curricular modules, train-the-trainer workshops for educators, identifying skill sets needed for handling next-generation robotics, developing a knowledge base of next-generation robotics for secondary and post-secondary educators, and providing awareness of next-generation robotics. Peer-reviewed publications are expected by the end of the project.

Get a “Career in a Year” with Motlow’s new program

LYNCHBURG — Education is the pathway towards more success but not all high-paying careers require a two or four-year degree. That’s the idea behind Motlow College’s new Career in a Year program. They developed it to help local students determined to build a new profession in a short period of time.

Adult learners age 25 and older can use the Tennessee Reconnect scholarship to attend Motlow tuition-free as receive certification in one of seven programs: mechatronics, paramedic, supply chain management, emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician advanced, early childhood education technical, and customer service.

“The Career in a Year concept supports individuals who are looking to explore, create, or build a new profession in a short period of time,” said Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Melody Edmonds. “We offer a variety of one-year certificate programs that can provide the right path for any of these motivations.”

For more information about the Motlow Career in a Year program go to mscc.edu/careerinayear or contact the MotlowAdmissions Office at (931) 393-1520 or email admissions@mscc.edu. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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 receives nearly $1 million state grant

LYNCHBURG — It’s meant to encourage more high school kids to enroll in college after high school, specifically vocational programs that keep the pipeline of well-trained candidates for local high tech jobs. Earlier this week, the state announced that Motlow College – along with several partners – would be awarded $949,410 through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program for a Teaching Innovative Learning Technologies (TILT) project. Motlow says the project reflects its commitment to continue building pathways between secondary and post secondary education.

“Our primary goal through the GIVE grant is to foster and strengthen long-term regional partnerships between Motlow, industry, workforce development agencies, and K-12 school systems,” said Fred Rascoe, dean of career and technical programs and project lead. “We are excited to continue developing advanced learning programs for middle school and high school students that facilitate students’ progression to a post secondary school such as Motlow.”

That project will positively impact 300 students over the 30-month grant period in reaching Drive to 55 goals through the creation and expansion of pathways between secondary and post secondary institutions. The mechatronics program in Fayetteville will be expanded by the addition of the robotics concentration. The Robotics concentration instructs in industrial robotic safety, operation, maintenance, end-effector design and application, and robot integration into a mechatronics system.

Motlow GIVE Grant team
The Motlow GIVE Grant team included (front row, left to right) Interim Dean of Students Debra Smith, Lincoln County CTE Director Susan Welch, Director of Grants Tammy O’Dell, and Career and Technical Programs Coordinator Ingrid Rascoe as well as (back row, from left to right) VP of External Affairs Terri Bryson, Emerging Technology Liaison Donald Choate, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jeff Horner, Executive Director of Automation and Robotics Training Center Larry Flatt, Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox, Career and Technical Programs Dean Fred Rascoe, VP of Finance and Administration Hilda Tunstill, and Asst. Vice President for Academic Affairs Melody Edmonds. {Photo Provided}

It will also create a computer coding program for partner school districts beginning at the middle school level, teaching students Swift coding, and a high school program for students to obtain certification in Python coding.

Partnering with Motlow for the project are Fayetteville City Schools, Lincoln, and Warren County Schools, FRANKE, Hamilton-Ryker TalentGro, VideoBomb, Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board, and the McMinnville-Warren County Industrial Development Board.

“Teaching coding, programming, and development demonstrates to the students the importance of logical thinking, organization, and improves problem solving skills,” said Donald Choate, Motlow emerging technology liaison and trainer. “Our cultural and economic landscape is changing as we have become a high-tech society and culture. We want to give our students the skills necessary for a successful high-tech future.”

The Motlow partnership grant was one of 28 that will receive their total of $25 million in state funding. The program prioritizes K-12, post secondary, and industry alignment across rural Tennessee to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship programs that reflect local industries’ workforce needs and enhances career and technical education statewide.

According to the college, the development of the GIVE-TILT project was prepared and written by Tammy O’Dell, grant writer and coordinator, Fred Rascoe, principal investigator, and Donald Choate, co-principal investigator.  Motlow grant team members include Terri Bryson, Melody Edmonds, Larry Flatt, Tammy Foust, Jeff Horner, Teal Lynch, Tammy O’Dell, Sally Pack, Kathy Parker, Debra Smith, and Hilda Tunstill. • 

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}