Auditions for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea set Sept. 4 & 5

The Northeast State Community College Department of Theater announces open auditions next week for its fall production of the classic Jules Verne adventure story 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Performers are invited to two open auditions scheduled Sept. 4th & 5th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Regional Center for the Performing Arts (RCPA) Theatre on the Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Airport. Performers are asked to prepare a one-minute comedic or dramatic monologue. This production of 20,000 Leagues is a drama/comedy/satire. The production is seeking to cast 12-30 actors. The play is being presented by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Ill.

Narwhals and Nemo at Northeast State Theatre this fall!

The story brings together prolific naturalist Professor Arronax, his devoted assistant Conseil, and the gritty harpooner Ned Land. They join the mysterious Captain Nemo aboard the Nautilus, the world’s first submarine vessel for an unforgettable adventure. While this work is primarily an adaptation of the classic story, it also weaves in satire with references from well-known ’80s and ’90s action-comedy films to give the script a contemporary flavor.

Performers are asked to assemble in the lobby of the RCPA Theater. Callbacks will be made on Sept. 6 between 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Production dates are Nov. 8-12.

For more information, contact Northeast State Theater at 423.354.2479 or e-mail

How to nurture thinking in adult learners

(This is the third in a series of columns from Northeast State’s Dr. J. Michael Ramey, Evening Coordinator at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education).

“… In contemporary societies, we must learn to make our own interpretations rather than act on the purposes, beliefs, judgments, and feelings of others. Facilitating such understanding is the cardinal goal of adult education.” ~ Jack Mezirow (1923-2014), American sociologist

Previously in this series, we noted that adult learners might resist course content that seems to contradict their beliefs about how the world works. According to transformative learning theory, developed by Mezirow and others, adults have acquired a frame of reference based on a lifetime of experiences. Furthermore, frames of reference arise from two distinct elements: habits of mind and point of view. By helping students to change these elements, instructors can facilitate transformative learning and promote autonomous thinking, a key competency for workforce readiness.

Whereas habits of mind include our default ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that proceed from deeply held assumptions, points of view are how we apply these habits of mind to specific contexts we encounter in our lives. For example, ethnocentrism is a habit of mind in which people regard anyone outside their group as inferior. A resulting point of view, then, would apply the lens of ethnocentrism to specific individuals and groups.

By helping adult learners to think critically, then, instructors are not only guiding them to be thoughtful, responsible citizens (a noble objective by itself) but also preparing them to succeed in a more sophisticated workforce.

Transformative learning can occur by changing one’s frame of reference through two chief means: gradually, by making incremental changes to points of view, or rapidly, by challenging the assumptions on which habits of mind are based. Because habits of mind are more durable, however, rapid change is less common.

To draw upon the previous example, an ethnocentric point of view can shift as a learner builds relationships with individuals and groups. The learner observes that the assumption about inferiority does not hold true for these new friends and necessarily modifies the criteria for evaluation. Ethnocentrism remains as a habit of mind, but as the individual builds more relationships and modifies criteria, the stubborn habit steadily transforms.

In order to address habits of mind more directly, however, a learner can engage in critical discourse with others. By joining the dialogue, participants find their underlying assumptions exposed and examined. In turn, this sets the stage for transformative learning, when we change our frames of reference in response to critical reflection.

In addition to participating in critical discourse, learners can also engage in self-reflective activities like journaling in order to uncover and modify deep-lying assumptions. Through these methods, learners change their frames of reference when they realize that new insights do not fit the old frames.

While critical discourse and self-reflection can (and do) occur outside of formal learning, for many students the structure and accountability of a college course can provide the scaffolding to support these activities. By intentionally weaving them into the fabric of a course, instructors promote transformative learning, and beyond that, help their students to become autonomous thinkers.

As early as 1991 the US Department of Labor recognized critical thinking skills as an essential competency. Accordingly, learning that prepared workers to think as autonomous agents in a collaborative context became prized over educational experiences in which students simply received the ideas and judgments of others without question. This trend has only accelerated over the almost thirty years since then as new jobs increasingly depend on understanding and manipulating information instead of just acquiring it.

By helping adult learners to think critically, then, instructors are not only guiding them to be thoughtful, responsible citizens (a noble objective by itself) but also preparing them to succeed in a more sophisticated workforce. As autonomous agents, these learners will have the advantage over peers who merely receive information without considering the greater implications and connections involved.

Saulsbury earns Otis L. Floyd Scholarship

The Tennessee Board of Regents has awarded Northeast State graduate Abbie Saulsbury the Otis L. Floyd Scholarship. She is the first NeSCC student to earn this honor.

The $500 scholarship is renewable each semester, up to six semesters or until a bachelor’s degree is completed. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student who has distinguished himself/herself by a record of dedicated community and campus service and strong academic achievement.

“I am extremely thankful to have received this scholarship,” Saulsbury said. “In speaking with Northeast State President James King and others, I have realized the tremendous impact that Dr. Floyd had on higher education and his sincere dedication to student success, so it is a true honor to receive a scholarship in his name. I look forward to using this scholarship to continue my education.”

Abbie Saulsbury - Humanities Bldg.
Abbie Saulsbury

Saulsbury has served as a volunteer for Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Charity Miles. During her time at Northeast State, Saulsbury was president of the Student Navigators and Toast to Education, as well as chief justice of the Student Traffic Court. Also, she was vice president of Leadership of Alpha Iota Chi and served as a member of the Council for Leadership Advocacy, Student Success, and the TRiO Club.

Saulsbury graduated summa cum laude last May with an associate of science degree. She is currently enrolled at East Tennessee State University and majoring in Political Science.

“I am pleased to see this reward for Abbie’s hard work and commitment to community service and academic study,” said Northeast State President James D. King. “We are proud of Abbie at Northeast State. She is an exemplary student and person, and well-deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Created by TBR in 1995, the scholarship was established in memory of Chancellor Otis L. Floyd from proceeds derived from the sale of the former chancellor’s residence. Floyd served as TBR chancellor from 1990-93 and was president of Tennessee State University from 1986 to 1990.

Aviation Technology program flying high at Gray campus

Students enrolled in the Aviation Technology program at Northeast State Community College will jump into a new laboratory space for training when fall classes begin next week.

The Northeast State at Gray campus, 120 Dillon Court, houses the College’s Aviation Technology program. The expanded mechanical and airframe laboratory space moves the program toward a fast track to earning the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 147 airframe certification for aviation teaching schools. Richard Blevins, director of the Aviation Technology program, noted that the development of the Aerospace Park at Tri-Cities Airport fuels the need to secure the Part 147 certification.

“To move forward on the FAA certification, we need a fully operational aircraft in the lab,” said Blevins. “We want to ensure the Aerospace Park’s potential tenants that we can provide the highly skilled labor force aerospace and aviation industry demands.”

An airplane fuselage is one of many teaching tools in the Aviation Tech lab at the Gray campus.

The mechanical and airframe lab provides approximately 2,000 square feet of teaching space. Students already benefit from an electrical systems laboratory and aircraft systems lab spaces at the site.

A single-engine airplane fuselage is displayed as a teaching model in the lab. Also, Blevins plans to add a fully functional single-engine airplane to the lab within the next year.

The airframe lab’s capabilities and FAA certification is a precursor to the program’s eventual relocation to the airport next to the College’s Blountville campus. Earning the FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certifications raises the skill sets for the program’s graduates.

“Ninety percent of operations you perform on an aircraft focused on the airframe,” said Blevins. “The remaining ten percent is power plant related.”

Prof. Richard Blevins demonstrates the aircraft landing gear simulator.

An eventual relocation to the Tri-Cities Airport requires a significant investment. More than $600,000 is needed in the short term for instructional equipment, teaching tools, and supplies.

A 2018 Pilot and Technical Outlook study conducted by the Boeing corporation projected 189,000 civil aviation technicians and 206,000 civil aviation pilots will be needed in the next 15 to 20 years in the North American market alone.

Northeast State’s Office of Grant Development is pursuing both state and federal funding sources. Details about potential funding are expected to be made available later this fall.

The College’s maintenance department made the expansion possible by opening up two separate classrooms to accommodate a fixed-wing aircraft. Three rooms became one to house the laboratory space for the airframe lab.

The Plant Operations crew readied the 2,000 square foot space into a laboratory for students this fall.

Pete Miller, director of Plant Operations at Northeast State, said a contracted demolition firm had opened up walls to expand the lab earlier this summer. Plant operations crew members followed up by patching the floor with new tiles and installing a new ceiling grid.

“We are finishing up the lab space and will be ready when classes begin,” said Miller.

The College’s aviation program started as a certificate program in 2015. The program added an associate of applied science degree option two years later. There are now more than 120 students enrolled in the Aviation Technology certificate or degree program.

“If you have a willingness to travel and an aptitude for mechanical and electrical things, aviation technology is a terrific path to follow,” said Blevins. “We want to lead the development of that workforce.”