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By: Barbara Bates

Niswonger Scholars Summer Leadership Institute


Though there were many challenges due to the Coronavirus Pandemic this year, we were able to have an abbreviated version of the Scholars Summer Leadership Institute, May 25-29.  Foundation President, Dr. Nancy Dishner, stated, "this year's institute demanded the most creative of efforts.  We are so proud that our Scholars participated with such positive attitudes and grateful hearts."

Students were rotated so that all the Scholars would be able to see each other at some point during the week.  While not onsite, the Scholars joined via Zoom.  The guest speakers for the week also joined via Zoom.

The book the Scholars studied for this summer institute was "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell.  An intuitive choice considering we are in the middle of a pandemic, a "Tipping Point" for the whole world.

The Scholars were enlightened and encouraged by several prominent speakers, such as, Allen Barnett, Lieutenant Commander, Navy Seals, stationed at the Pentagon; Senator Jamie Woodson; Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Cameron Sexton; Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Dr. Penny Schwinn, and Niswonger Foundation Founder, Scott Niswonger.

The Niswonger Alumni who spoke to the Scholars, via Zoom, regarding their best advice and "Tipping Points' were Alex Smyth, a Greene County mathematics teacher and this years "Teacher of the Year;" Dustin Howser, engineer at Nuclear Fuel Services; Dr. Ivory Shelton, pediatric resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Will Brummett, program manager for Co-Curricular Services in the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement in Public Services at George Washington University. Will has been a long-time instructor for the Niswonger Scholars.

As always, the marvelously charming and talented, Marilyn duBrisk joined us each day in the afternoon for elocution and communications class.

There was so much of the leadership institute that had to be cancelled, changed or rearranged this year, but everyone rose to the challenge.  The Scholars concurred, it was a productive and meaningful week.  We are looking forward to being together post CORONAVIRUS, with HUGS and happiness.

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