Samantha Gray and Rock-A-Bye Blue perform Aug. 2

Samantha Gray and Rock-a-Bye Blue perform at Northeast State on Friday, Aug. 2 in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts, located on the College’s main campus in Blountville, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

The band’s performance is part of the College’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series. The show is free and open to the public. The performance begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Gray was raised in the Midwest. Her father and maternal grandparents were from Tennessee. She embraced her southern roots and has often said that she had the best of both worlds. Samantha was exposed to many different types of music, especially country music and the sounds of Motown.

While attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, she caught a performance by the alt-country band, The Bystanders. After the show she was introduced to the band and one week later they invited her to sing on stage with them. From that moment on, Gray was hooked and knew that she wanted to perform.

Gray fronted several bands including Jive Deluxe and The Detroit Specials. She honed her songwriting skills while working with the groups before going solo. Gray’s unique voice has been described as soulful, sultry and powerful. Melding the influences of Classic R&B, blues and rock’n'roll, she combines all of these influences into her own brand of Blues and Roots music, which can be heard on her 2010 self-released album Bad Girl Now.

For more information, visit www.NortheastState.edu or contact 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.


Malissa Trent named dean of Mathematics Division

Northeast State has named Malissa Trent as the College’s new dean of Mathematics.

She follows Nancy Forrester, who retired as the division’s dean in June. The Mathematics division directs programs of Mathematics and Pre-Engineering programs and The Learning Center where students can get free tutoring on numerous subjects.

“I am very blessed to be a member of this department and work with our faculty,” Trent said. “We have great people who strive to make math understandable and accessible.”

Trent joined Northeast State in 1997 as an instructor of Mathematics. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory and Henry College and her Master of Science degree from East Tennessee State University.

She became associate professor of mathematics and served as the coordinator of the division’s learning support services. As the division’s learning support coordinator since 2006, Trent helped shape the new learning support mathematics curriculum designed to assist students struggling with math.

“So many people are afraid of math,” says Trent.  “We make it our goal to simplify things without lowering standards. So much of the math we teach at Northeast State is practical and applicable to the professional world where the students are going.”

Students majoring in Advanced Technologies programs such as electrical, electromechanical, and mechanical technology learn math’s role in technical and scientific education.  Business, Pre-Engineering, and STEM majors must have a solid math foundation to provide a seamless transition as they matriculate to four-year institutions. Trent added that Pre-Teacher Education majors had to master math skills they would ultimately teach to their students.

“We make students in every program aware of how math plays a role in any profession they pursue,” said Trent. “When you understand math you can better understand the world.”

The Mathematics division’s 17 full-time faculty and approximately 20 adjunct faculty members teach a variety of courses of learning support math through differential equations.

“I know the caliber of people in this division,” Trent said. “Everyone pulls together and is dedicated to putting their students first.”


Shaped-note singing provides glimpse into Southern musical history

Shaped-note singing is an American tradition of hymn-singing that endures today in churches and annual singing schools and conventions. The style began in New England in the 18th century and made its way to the Southern states where it enjoyed popularity through the mid-19th century.

Fans of the style as well as newcomers to the method will be treated to a concert by singers from the Tri-City Gospel Music Camp in Kingsport on July 25 at 7 p.m. at Northeast State’s Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts. The concert will feature about 15 hymns and last about one hour. The event is free and open to the public.

Basically, shaped-notes allow for a simplified way to read music. Based on squares, ovals, diamonds, and triangles – the distinctive shapes of the notes instantly tell what pitch to sing.

"People will hear some good four-part singing and songs that are entertaining about the Lord Jesus Christ," said David Armistead, one of the camp directors. "It will be enjoyable and they'll get to see how this type of singing is done. This is the real deal."

The gospel camp currently has about 80 students ranging from 5 to 80 years old. Armistead said this year's camp has participants from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri as well at Tennessee. The camp has been in operation for 14 years.

The performing arts center is located at 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

For more information, contact Jim Kelly at jpkelly@NortheastState.edu or 423.279.7669.


JC Community Concert Band strikes up July 13

The Johnson City Community Concert Band performs a free concert at Northeast State Community College on Saturday, July 13 in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts, located on the College’s main campus in Blountville, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

The band’s performance is part of the College’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series.  The show is free and open to the public. The performance begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

 The band is made up of approximately 60 members and associate members who have a diverse background in music, from professional band directors to no- music professionals of all ages that just want to continue the joy of playing music and performing. The band also features several associate members who taken up playing challenging music.

For more information about this or other events in the Hot Nights, Cool Music series, visit www.NortheastState.edu or contact 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.


Johnson County 7th-graders look toward college with hands-on projects 

Hands-on training often puts the importance of education in a new light. 

A group of Johnson County seventh-graders discovered that recently with the GEAR UP TN summer project designed to cultivate a college-going culture for themselves and their families.

The students worked on a landscaping project at Northeast State’s Mountain City ITV classroom site, visited an alpaca farm, and worked with 4-H and rural economic development representatives to get an idea of how education plays a role in everyday life.

The activities are part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program, which aims to increase enrollment and success in postsecondary education.

The Johnson County School System received a $443,625 grant last fall from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to support college access and success efforts. As part of the grant, the system has joined with Northeast State Community College and other community partners to provide students with meaningful educational activities.

“We want activities that are very hands on and applied,” said Erika Adams, director of Northeast State’s College Access Programs. “We want to strengthen the skills they are lacking through these projects and let them see the value of mathematics, science, reading, and language arts. This will make classroom material and instruction more valid to them.”

Adams said future projects will involve square-foot and raised-bed gardening and hopefully the creation and production of a play for the Mountain City Playhouse.

“The work they did this summer and what they demonstrated based on what they learned was nothing short of phenomenal,” Adams said. “They bought into it so well and understood everything we were trying to get across.”

Adams said the Northeast State Mountain City site was purposely used to help students envision a college career, take ownership of the project, and invest in their community. In fact, high school dual enrollment students can take 12-15 credit hours at the site and the College hopes to increase those offerings in the future.

“The students were very excited about the possibility of taking college classes while still in high school,” Adams said.

Johnson County is one of 16 counties in the state to receive GEAR UP TN funding and about 170 seventh-graders and 170 seniors will take part in the program. The grant will span seven years.

Students who are rising eighth-graders will form a cohort that receives services through middle school, high school, and the first year of college. In addition, each senior class at Johnson County High School will participate in programs designed to help them with academics, career and college decisions, and navigating college enrollment. 

Increasing college attainment is central to the state’s Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, a statewide master plan with the goal of bringing the state up to the national average for undergraduate degree attainment by 2025. GEAR UP TN will provide support to the state’s public agenda for higher education through its targeted intervention and assistance approaches.  

GEAR UP TN will serve a cohort of 7,500 students in the Class of 2018, along with 5,000 graduating seniors each year through 2019. A total of over 37,500 students at 83 schools will be directly served during the seven years of federal funding. Each GEAR UP TN collaborative includes at least one priority high school, one middle school, a higher education institution, the local board of education, and at least two community-based partners.

Northeast State’s College Access Program is designed to help high school students make the transition to college and aid the transfer of community college students to four-year institutions.

The program helps students with filling out college and financial aid applications, preparing for ACT and SAT exams, and completing scholarship paperwork. In addition, a number of workshops and camps, information sessions, college tours, and face-to-face meetings are held. Programs that bolster study skills, time management, test-taking strategies are in place for community college students, as well as help with transferring to four-year schools.

Currently, the program has mentors in 15 high schools in the College’s service area, which includes Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.


Wise Old River takes the stage at Northeast State

Keep the July 4th weekend rolling with an evening of eclectic and pure Americana music when local band Wise Old River takes the stage at Northeast State’s Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 5.

The free and public performance is part of the College’s Hot Nights, Cool Music Summer Concert Series. The performing arts center is located at 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Wise Old River blends a variety of influences and instruments that combine tradition with originality. The group features vocalist/guitarist Jamen Denton (formerly of Virginia Ground and winner of best male vocalist by the GoTriCities.com Music Awards in 2005). Jeanne Denton provides well-crafted harmony vocals and occasional percussion. Jim Denton adds acoustic lap steel, 12 string slide guitar, and bouzouki. Bassist Stephen Marshall joined the band in fall 2010 and plays with an Americana focus bridging musical styles with his honest sound and harmonic vibe.

The group has performed on local and national television programs such as the PBS syndicated show “Song of the Mountains,” which is taped at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va. The show airs on over 90 PBS stations across the United States.

Other venues and events include the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon, Hungry Mother Park Arts and Music Festival in Marion, Va., the Little Chicago Blues Festival, the Home Grown Show Case at the Down Home in Johnson City, The Pickin’ Porch in Bristol, the Tim White Blue Grass Radio Show, Studio One (WETS 89.5 FM) at East Tennessee State University, and many other local and regional events and venues.

For more information, visit www.wiseoldriver.com or contact jpkelly@NortheastState.edu or 423.279.7669.