Faculty Focus – Prof. Dale Ledford

Faculty Focus, Prof. Dale Ledford
Assistant Professor, Biology.
East Tennessee State University, Bachelor of Science & Master of Science.
Northeast State alumnus. Friend to animals.

What is your background and how did it lead you to Northeast State?
I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and ADHD. When I was in second grade, a teacher at my school told my parents she thought I was retarded. That did not over well with my parents especially my dad. I had to make some adjustments but after that things changed for the better. I stayed on the honor roll throughout elementary school. High school was, again, another time of adjustment. I had some great teachers but also some very negative experiences with teachers. I had a hard time with algebra and didn’t believe I could do it. When I was a student at Northeast State I stepped into Prof. Kim Nunn’s class and realized I could do it. I did well here at Northeast State. I later transferred and earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from East Tennessee State University. I earned my master’s degree with a professor who said I needed to come to Northeast State to teach. He really pushed me to come here.

What are students seeking to achieve when they take a biology class?
Most are not biology majors. We have students looking at nursing, pharmacy school, and biology is a class they need to fulfill that goal. I think students have had some bad experiences with biology in the past. I want to show them that it is doable and break down those fears. Several of our local high schools are doing a fantastic job of preparing their students for college-level biology. I hope students see their own growth beyond my class and into the next class and into their careers.

Prof. Dale Ledford

What sparked your interest in biology?
In my general biology class, I didn’t know how anyone couldn’t find this stuff cool. It was so fascinating. I grew up in a rural part of Washington County so there were a lot of woods and wilderness to explore as a kid. I spent a lot of time outdoors and would try little experiments. My dad taught me to identify trees of all kinds. I had this slew of creatures that became pets from frogs and tadpoles to brown racer snakes and salamanders. We even had a flying squirrel who got into our house. I released all of them back into the wild. I didn’t understand how anyone couldn’t be fascinated with it.

What appealed to you about Northeast State?
I had a perspective being here as a former student and graduate. I clearly knew the environment. I knew the faculty was serious about learning. I also knew there was a commitment to quality we have from a lot of people. I knew how former professors kept you from giving up and kept you going. A lot of students are looking for an opportunity to quit. Students that give up don’t give up for no reason. They quit because we quit.

What do you do away from work?
I still love being outdoors hiking and fishing. My wife and I enjoy cooking, hanging out with our dogs, reading, and enjoying our downtime.

How does your experience in education influence your work with students today?
As an instructor, you set expectations for students and hold them to it. They won’t let you down. Beyond that, everything that happened to me told me I should give up and not try. I tell students now never let anyone who has no say in your future affect the direction you have in mind for your life.

Thacker, Oxendine-Woodby named to 40 Under Forty class of 2017

Two Northeast State leaders were recognized among the region’s next generation of movers and shakers in The Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty class of 2017.

Jennifer Thacker and Mary Beth Oxendine-Woodby were selected as 40 Under Forty recipients recognizing the region’s professionals for noteworthy career and civic accomplishments. The entire 40 Under Forty class was featured in the Journal’s December issue.

As Northeast State’s director of the Kingsport Center for Higher Education (KCHE), Thacker provides leadership and management for operations for administrative and support staff. She works in coordination with other departments, Kingsport campus buildings, staff, city and state officials, and other stakeholders.

Jennifer Thacker

Thacker received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from East Tennessee State University (ETSU), a Master of Education from Milligan College, and is entering the dissertation phase of her Ph.D. in Education – Cultural Studies from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  She began her career in education as a high school English teacher then transitioned to post-secondary education. She joined Northeast State as site coordinator for the Gray campus in 2010 and later took on the role of cohort and academic support specialist. In addition to reestablishing and directing the College’s cohort-based programs, she served as director of Northeast State at Bristol prior to moving to her current role as director of KCHE in November 2015.

Mary Beth Oxendine-Woodby

Oxendine-Woodby has built a career around strengthening the region’s workforce. As career development coordinator for Northeast State, she works closely with area employers to ensure that they have access to highly-skilled job candidates. She has been working at Northeast State since 2011. Oxendine-Woodby works closely with individuals, school systems, and community agencies to promote training opportunities and job skills. She has also been an active volunteer with the United Way of Greater Kingsport since 2012, serving on councils in both leadership and member roles.  Oxendine-Woodby has served as a tnAchieves mentor since 2014 to help Tennessee Promise students adjust to college.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as a 40 Under Forty recipient this year,” said Oxendine-Woodby. “Being recognized alongside such a talented group of professionals is truly inspiring.”

Oxendine-Woodby earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from ETSU and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from Tusculum College. She holds credentials as a Global Career Development Facilitator and a Certified Professional Resume Writer. Prior to joining Northeast State, Oxendine-Woodby worked in the Tennessee Department of Labor Career Centers, providing training and pre-employment services through the Alliance for Business & Training.

Award nominees are 39 years old or younger as of October 2017, live and work in East Tennessee or Southwest Virginia, are involved in their communities and show the potential to be a leader in the business community during the next decade.

According to the Journal, this year’s 40 Under Forty honorees inducted the 1,000th member since the class began in 1993. The Journal promotes young talent through this program — one that has become the top honor for the region’s businesspeople under the age of 40.

Faculty Focus – Prof. Nona Shepherd

Faculty Focus, Prof. Nona Shepherd
English Professor & Fantasy Literature guru.
Clinch Valley College (University of Virginia’s College at Wise) Bachelor’s degree.
East Tennessee State University. Master’s degree.
She’s Morgan le Fay in another realm.

Has Southern Appalachia always been home to you?
My family moved to Wise, Va., from Baltimore when I was 12 years old. So my formative years were spent in Southwest Virginia. I graduated from Clinch Valley College (now University of Virginia’s College at Wise) where I was an English major with a concentration in Communications. I was also a dorm director for three years. My director of residence life told me I needed to move on to graduate school.

What prompted your decision to return to graduate school?
Initially, when I was going to graduate school I applied to get a degree in counseling. It was the loss of my dad and my friends’ discussion of their passion for layout design that nudged me back towards literature. That experience brought me back to language, stories, and the people telling them. I thought, ‘You’ve loved this your whole life.’ That is when I realized what I’m most passionate about. So I was accepted into the graduate program at East Tennessee State University where I earned my Master’s degree in English. After I earned my Master’s degree, I worked as a community educator for six-and-a-half years at the Sexual Assault Response Center.

Prof. Nona Shepherd

How did you find your way to Northeast State?
Someone told me that I should go talk to this guy (Humanities division Dean William) Wilson about becoming an adjunct instructor at Northeast State. So he gave me a few classes to teach. I was also teaching adjunct at ETSU. I applied for a full-time faculty position that year but didn’t get the job! But I applied again the next year and was hired as a full-time instructor. So I’ve been here 12 years full-time and 14 years overall. I never imagined being able to teach in college as a profession.

In an increasingly visually driven world of communication, why are English and literature critical to how we express ourselves?
I think you communicate the complexities of life through language. The use of written language handles the true depth of human communication whereas visual images give you a moment. Words are the most natural expressions of ourselves. Literature helps us understand each other because it is the story of others. Literature tells the story of humanity.

What is the biggest challenge for students to improve their writing?
Their confidence level. Students tell me, ‘I know what is in my head but I can’t get it down on paper.’ They don’t have the confidence in their ability to communicate well in their writing. So we develop that confidence through writing and practicing writing what we want to express.

What appeals to you about Northeast State?
Because we invest in students. I don’t know how many students I’ve had say, ‘I wish I could come back’ and ‘I hated to leave.’ I feel like we give them a foundation to do what they want to do and move forward to their next step in life. It feels more like a graduate school experience where the classes are more intimate and the relationships between the faculty and students are personal. We are in this together. We are a team. That camaraderie among everyone has carried us through a lot.

Be a mentor & be a hero – sign up before Oct. 31

Returning Northeast State students can leverage their academic achievements into leadership experience as an EDUC 1030 peer mentor for the upcoming spring semester.

The EDUC 1030 Peer Mentoring Program needs returning students to help transition new students into the college environment. A peer mentor is a second-year student who leads a maximum of five (5) students enrolled in EDUC 1030 classes throughout the 2018 spring semester.

College can be a climb. Peer mentors can help.

An eligible peer mentor candidate is a second-year student with a grade point average of 3.0 or above. Training will take place during the latter half of the current fall semester. Students selected to serve as peer mentors are compensated with meals during training and will receive a $250.00 stipend upon completion of assigned duties and responsibilities.

If interested, please complete the Peer Mentoring Application Form no later than October 31, 2017.

For questions and details, please contact Jane Honeycutt at jbhoneycutt@northeaststate.edu or Dr. Teressa Dobbs at tadobbs@northeaststate.edu.