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2010 News Archive




Brad Smith, SCORE Commission, Linda Irwin, Nswonger Foundation Director of School Partnerships, Nikki Niswonger and Scott Niswonger


Greeneville, Tennessee – Scott M. Niswonger, President and Founder of the Niswonger Foundation has announced that the Foundation has received an “Investing In Innovation” (i3) Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant will be in excess of $18 million. Niswonger stated: “This is a ‘banner day’ for the Foundation. A decade ago, we started with a dream of improving K-12 education as a means to better prepare the children of our region for the 21st Century. Today, it’s gratifying to see the results of that work recognized nationally. This U.S. Department of Education grant not only points to our current record of success, but also emphasizes the tremendous potential that expanding these programs will have on improving the quality of education in Northeast Tennessee.”

Niswonger Foundation Director of School Partnerships, Linda Irwin, who prepared the grant application and is the administrator of the grant, explained that only 49 school districts, nonprofit education organizations and institutions of higher education across the U.S. were selected from nearly 1,700 applicants. To receive a share of the $650 million in i3 Grants, the winning applicants must be able to secure a commitment for a 20 percent private sector match by September 8.

In announcing the grant recipients, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated: "All across America, innovative entrepreneurs are finding solutions to our most pressing educational challenges. The i3 Grants will support creative thinkers who test good ideas and take proven approaches ‘to scale’ so that more children can benefit."

The U.S. Department of Education selected the 49 finalists based on recommendations from independent peer review panels. Grants fall into three categories: up to $50 million per "scale-up" grant for programs with a strong track record of success; up to $30 million per "validation" grant for growing programs with emerging evidence of success; and up to $5 million per “development" grant for promising ideas. Winning applicants will serve 42 states and 2 territories with more than half the grants serving students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, and 37 percent serving rural school districts.

The Niswonger Foundation is one of only 15 recipients in the “validation” category and will be awarded $18-$30 million in late September. This money will be used to fund the Northeast Tennessee College and Career Consortium. Fifteen school systems (Carter County, Elizabethton City, Cocke County, Greene County, Greeneville City, Hamblen County, Hancock County, Hawkins County, Johnson County, Sullivan County, Kingsport City, Bristol City, Unicoi County, Washington County, and Johnson City) will join together to improve the rigor of their high school curriculum, increase graduation rates, raise ACT scores, provide more dual-enrollment classes with our community colleges, and create greater opportunities for career technical students. All 15 school systems have been awarded Partnership programs in the past by the Niswonger Foundation. A major focus of the grant selection was the ability for the proposed projects to be replicated successfully in other areas. The Foundation’s proposal was viewed as meeting this competitive preference. No other i3 Grants were awarded in Tennessee.

Linda Irwin, Director of School Partnerships stated: “We are thrilled to receive this grant. For more than nine years, the Niswonger Foundation has worked diligently to provide quality educational opportunities for students in Northeast Tennessee. It is gratifying to know that our efforts merit being awarded this grant. The infusion of this money will allow us to accelerate our existing ten year plan for school partnerships into 4 years. This could not come at a better time since a major goal of the Foundation is to support our schools in the First Congressional District as they face new, more rigorous standards and expectations.”

Established in 2001, the Niswonger Foundation was founded by Scott M. Niswonger, Greeneville businessman and philanthropist. The mission of the Foundation is: “To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education.”

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Bredesen Appoints Tennessee First to the Top Advisory Council
Released on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 - 3:25 pm

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced 14 appointments to the Tennessee First to the Top Advisory Council, a broad-based group of Tennesseans and national experts who will provide strategic guidance, direction, and thought leadership to state policymakers overseeing Tennessee’s Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
“Tennessee’s education agenda has accelerated in recent years because of the shared commitment to improving education that has been developed among stakeholders including teachers, administrators, business leaders, philanthropy, and advocacy groups,” said Bredesen. “They play a vital role in helping Tennessee carry out the vision of a world-class public education system that prepares students for college, career, and life in the 21st century. The ongoing involvement of the groups represented by the First to the Top Advisory Council will help ensure we fulfill our Race to the Top goals.”
Bredesen created the Council to ensure the state is effectively implementing, evaluation and learning from the historic Race to the Top investment in Tennessee’s public school systems. The Advisory Council will:
• Provide strategic guidance on all aspects of the grant, including implementation, planning, and evaluation;
• Help communicate the bold First to the Top proposals in their communities, the state, and the nation;
• Promote sound decision-making by working with the First to the Top leadership responsible for executing the grant; and
• Ensure continuous alignment between the state’s reform plans and the ambitious goals to accelerate student achievement across Tennessee.
The Advisory Council will not direct grant funds, oversee programming, or supervise staff. The panel consists of elected officials, educators, leaders of stakeholder organizations, and representatives of philanthropic foundations – all of whom are deeply invested in Tennessee’s future. Those appointed to serve include:
• Dan Challener, Public Education Foundation
• Mayor Karl Dean, Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County
• Senator Bill Frist, Tennessee SCORE
• Tomeka Hart, Memphis City School Board
• Linda Irwin, Niswonger Foundation
• Gary Mabrey, Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce
• State Representative Mark Maddox, Weakley and Carroll counties
• Al Mance, Tennessee Education Association
• Superintendent Jim McIntyre, Knox County Schools
• Gary Nixon, State Board of Education
• Colleen Oliver, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• Superintendent Mary Reel, Milan Special School District
• Teresa Sloyan, Hyde Foundation
• State Senator Jamie Woodson, Knox County
Ex-officio member include officials from Tennessee’s Department of Education and Higher Education Commission. Representatives of national organizations with expertise in education, including Mass Insight Education, the Data Quality Campaign, Achieve Inc., the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development, and the National Council on Teacher Quality will also serve as ex-officio members.

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Moving Education Reforms from the
Drawing Board to Reality
By Speaker Pro Tempore Jamie Woodson

The coming months and years will be a critical time in Tennessee as we move to implement recently enacted education reforms. Last week, I was honored to be appointed by Governor Bredesen to Chair the First to the Top Advisory Council, a broad-based group of 14 key education partners charged with providing strategic guidance during this process. The Council has an important role to play, but it is just one of many coalitions throughout the state helping to successfully implement and sustain these vital reforms.

Tennessee has taken bold steps to improve outcomes in K-12 education. In recent years, we have adopted measures that:

• Raise academic standards for all students
• Focus on building effective teachers and school leaders
• Better utilize our robust data system to inform classroom instruction
• Focus on turning around our most challenging schools

The reason for this comprehensive change is simple: Tomorrow’s jobs -- even traditional manufacturing jobs -- will require higher levels of education and skills. As an example, within 10 years, 63 percent of Tennesseans will need either a two-year or four-year degree, but currently only 27 percent have these degrees. To be competitive, we must be certain that students graduate from high school prepared for success in the workforce and post-secondary education.

In order to achieve our goals, these reforms must be effectively implemented and sustained. This will be no easy task. There will be strains affecting every player in our education delivery system. Students and parents will have to cope with higher standards and the assessments that go along with them. Teachers and principals will face new, more rigorous evaluation systems, and individual schools and districts will have to manage these changes during an economic winter.

Because implementation will be challenging and is vital to our overall success, we must plan appropriately and provide additional help and guidance to all of these key partners. Already, state and local governments, school districts and non-profits have adopted various initiatives tailored to meet local needs.

Many focus on teacher training and professional development to help with new classroom demands. School districts are looking at ways to better incorporate technology, reach at-risk students earlier and improve teacher collaboration. In addition, our nationally recognized student achievement data system will now be used to give educators a better picture of an individual student’s progress and needs.

Even with proper preparation and guidance, as Tennesseans, we must constantly remind ourselves why this reform effort is so important to our future. It is nothing short of an economic “call to arms.” A significant reason we were able to pass these initiatives in the first place was due to the broad buy-in from across the state, including business and community leaders, policymakers, teachers, administrators, and, of course, parents. To accomplish this next phase, this support must continue.

Fortunately, groups throughout the state are helping maintain support for reform. A good example is a collaborative public awareness campaign being led by the Tennessee SCORE initiative entitled, “Expect More, Achieve More.” The campaign, introduced this week, supports our new, higher academic standards. Specifically, it is designed to reassure parents that higher standards are important even though they may lead to harder tests and possibly lower scores at first.

The message to parents is simple: It’s time to EXPECT more, so your child can ACHIEVE more. The campaign will go farther and give parents helpful advice and steps they can take to ensure that their children are ready to succeed in the classroom. Positive, proactive communication like this will be vital for our overall success.

Reforming our education system will not be easy and it will take time. However, we have already demonstrated that Tennessee is willing to take bold steps and is committed to meaningful change. If we continue to work together and remain focused on our long-term economic and educational goals, we can build on our recent success and dramatically improve the future for our children.

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Thirty-one college students who are Niswonger Scholars did maintenance at the Old Harmony Cemetery on Wednesday.  Projects included cleaning headstones, and, as shown here, raising and leveling them.

Their Day’s Work Is A Big Help With Cemetery Project.


Thirty-one Niswonger Scholars spent most of a very hot Wednesday cleaning up the historic Old Harmony Cemetery. 

In the process, they helped the Daughters of the American Revolution with an ongoing project and learned more about this region’s history. 

For at least one scholar, Ian Sams, of Watauga, the project turned very personal when he learned that he had just cleaned the headstone of his own great-grandfather. 

Dr. Nancy Dishner, director of the Niswonger Scholars Program, said the students, who are enrolled in a total of 18 colleges and universities, are in Greeneville this week for training in leadership, ethics, management and service. 

Niswonger Scholars are already involved in community service, she said, because service is one of the criteria, along with academic achievement, by which the scholars are chosen. 

Those selected are able to attend any college to which they can be admitted, with costs borne by the Niswonger Foundation. 

Dishner said the Niswonger Scholars have been reading a book this spring called The Tipping Point, by journalist Malcolm Gladwell. 

The author writes about “epidemics” not in the usual sense of a widespread disease, but as ideas or actions that can have good or bad effects, and impact other things. 

Dishner said members of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Greene County have been trying to improve Old Harmony Cemetery for some time by raising money and scheduling volunteer days. 

She said the 31 Niswonger Scholars, through a day of service cleaning headstones, trimming, leveling markers and the ground in some places, were able to do a great deal of the work. 

DAR member Madge Walker said the scholars accomplished an amazing amount of work in a day, and the DAR is very appreciative. 

Dishner said the students were encouraged to see their efforts as part of the overall effort, a “good epidemic” in a sense that “could make an incredible difference.” 

She said three members of the DAR “came to show us how” to work on the cemetery, and the organization’s members, by themselves, “could not possibly have tackled the project” in the same way that the youthful, enthusiastic scholars did. 

The scholars were also able to see, first-hand, the cemetery’s ties to local history. 

“I’m very impressed with the history of the graveyard,” Dishner said. She noted that the cemetery contains the remains of 32 veterans from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War. 

She said students saw that members of Revolutionary War Gen. John Sevier’s family are buried there, and “even Abraham Lincoln has family members buried there.” 

As students worked, she said, some began to realize they were “clearing a section that belonged to a whole family, and I would hear them calling a family member by name as they tried to figure out” relationships, and the time periods in which those who were buried there must have lived. 

When Ian Sams was cleaning a headstone that bore the name “McGinnis,” she said, “something rang a bell with him.” 

Sams used his cell phone to call his mother in Watauga to see if there were any McGinnis ties to his family. 

His mother told him that his great-grandfather was in fact from Greene County, and it turned out that he was actually cleaning his great-grandfather’s grave. 

“That is powerful to these kids,” Dishner said. “That is the message I was trying to get across, that it is important that they put their work into the community – and they get it.” 

“It was a very special day,” Dishner said, not only for Sams, but for all of the Niswonger Scholars.



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Emily Hollingsworth – Emily, a senior at Belmont University, along with the Belmont SIFE team attended the SIFE National Exposition in Minneapolis earlier this month. Emily serves as Vice President of Belmont SIFE, and she was asked to fill in for one of their 6 presenters at the last minute. She had to memorize her lines in just 2 days. She was so excited to report that they won! They will go on to represent the USA in the World Exposition in Los Angeles. You may view their presentation at:

Trey Reliford – Trey, a 2010 graduate of Sewanee University, has been selected for the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program. He will leave for Japan in early August. Trey is very excited for this opportunity.

Rachel Witt – Rachel, a junior at Vanderbilt University, will be studying abroad this summer in the Ayacucho region of Peru. She will be assisting her professor with research involving osteological remains from the Wari Empire dating to the Early Horizon (200 BC). Rachel is an anthropology major, and she is thrilled to have this experience.

Bradley Brown – Bradley, a 2008 graduate of M.I.T., has accepted a new position with Hellman and Friedman private equity firm in San Francisco, California.

Chris Brown – Chris, a 2010 graduate of East Tennessee State University, has accepted a teaching position at Unicoi County Middle School. He will be teaching 7th grade language arts.

Kyle Holliday – Kyle, a 2009 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, has accepted a position with Hemphill & Associates in Columbus, Ohio.

Todd Skelton – Todd, a 2010 graduate of University of Tennessee, will be entering the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Elizabeth Batson – Elizabeth, a 2006 graduate of Emory University, has accepted a position as a sales and service specialist with the Bank of America.

Chelsea Goodson – Chelsea, a 2010 graduate of University of Tennessee, has accepted a position in Nashville with Aldi, Inc., a leading company in the international grocery retailing industry.


Matt Bible – Matt, a senior at Tennessee Tech University, has been interning in the chemical engineering department at Jarden Zinc Corporation in Greeneville for the past 2 years and will do so again this summer. He has greatly enjoyed this internship and has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge while there. He is grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn under these professionals.

James Durham – James, a sophomore at Notre Dame, will spend the summer as an intern with Bright’s Zoo in Greeneville. He will be performing a variety of tasks while seeing first-hand the business operation from Mr. Bright.

Jason Light – Jason, a sophomore at University of Tennessee, will be working as an independent worker assigned to a very challenging project at Bristol Tennessee Essential Services and is the first intern to work in the fiber side of the electrical engineering department. He is very excited and looks forward to proving himself, learning and growing through this opportunity.

Law Loving – Law, a junior at Tulane University, will be interning with The Department of Homeland Security in Seattle, Washington this summer.

Ian Sams – Ian, a senior at University of Alabama, is looking forward to spending the summer interning in Washington DC. It has been a desire of his for quite some time, as he loves politics.

Patrick Brown – Patrick, a senior at Purdue, will be completing a year-long internship with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architecture in Chicago, IL beginning this summer.

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By Jeff Keeling
Press Business Editor
[email protected]  

MOUNTAIN CITY – In a heavily wooded subdivision a half-mile off North Church Street, a large construction crew is making quick progress on a three-bedroom home. 

Masonry workers mix mortar in a drum and carefully apply brick to the exterior. Inside, with the house under roof and framed, sheet rock is measured, cut and attached to the framing, the resulting walls and ceilings suggesting that completion is drawing near. 

Oh, and all but two of the workers are 17-and 18-year-olds. 

Child labor violations? Some strange cult? No, just another example of the type of work the Niswonger Foundation is helping school systems accomplish from Pigeon Forge to Mountain City. 

When the house is finished next fall and sold to an area family, the proceeds will be plowed back into yet another home, but money won’t have been all that’s gained. Like two already occupied homes on nearby lots, this house will have served as a laboratory for dozens of Johnson County High School students to gain real-life job skills in every aspect of residential building. 

The program pays for itself through the home sales and pumps dozens of youngsters with solid job skills into the region’s work force – often after they’ve furthered their educations at area colleges, universities or technical schools. 

Such a feat is being pulled off at one of the area’s rural high schools thanks to a few main factors: the determination of the school’s building trades teachers, George Triplett and Tim Roberts, and the seed money and other resources the Niswonger Foundation started providing around 2002. 

Selling each home, Triplett says, “generates enough money for us to continue to build. We can truly use it as a teaching facility where students do it all – clear the lot, pour the foundation … all the way to the mailbox. Even the logistics of market values, appraisals – they’re directly involved in all of it.” 

In fact, HVAC work and cabinet installation are the only things that are “subbed out” to local contractors. 

The experiment has been a successful one beyond its becoming financially self-supporting. It has helped solve a problem Johnson County educators presented to Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger when his foundation first made contact with the system nearly a decade ago.

Minnie Miller was superintendent at the time, and Niswonger recalls her response to the foundation when it pitched some of its successful academic programs in Mountain City. 

“She said, ‘I’m 8 to 12 miles from a four-lane, the only industry is the prison, but if I could get our vocational programs beefed up and we could produce certified electricians, roofers, brick masons, we could keep 15 to 20 kids a year home in good paying jobs, $15 to $20 an hour.’ 

“And she pointed out her window, ‘right over there,’ which was Boone (N.C.), where at the time they were building multimillion dollar homes and importing labor.” 

Things began to fall into place after that, though much flexibility and determination has been required through the years. The school system was able to acquire nearly 50 acres of land adjacent to the high school. 

Triplett remembers that he simply needed more space to teach plumbing, electrical work and carpentry, and so he submitted a proposal to the foundation’s then-director, Buzz Thomas, requesting funds for a new building to enhance school’s masonry program. 

Thomas said foundation funds couldn’t be used for a building. 

“We resubmitted it and said, ‘what if the students are building their own building.’ He said, ‘that’s perfect,” and the students built their own 3,600-square-foot masonry shop,” 

The official three-year, $300,000 Niswonger partnership, which also allowed the high school to hire Tim Roberts as a second building trades teacher, wasn’t over yet, nor was all the money used. 

Triplett and others then hatched the home-building idea, and as it worked out, the system was able to cobble together enough money to purchase nearly 50 sloping, wooded acres adjacent to the high school. 

“The project had enough money left to purchase the materials for the first home,” he says. 

The cedar-sided, four-bedroom home was auctioned after completion, and the program has never looked back. 

“Now we’re just rolling on our third house and it will be finished next fall.” 

The proceeds have been more than sufficient to cover building costs of each new house, and within months, some of the money will fund a second access road into the property, making it easier for current and future residents to get in and out. 

Niswonger calls the project one of his favorites. He says it exemplifies several things about the School Partnership Program: its flexibility, the tenacity of the partners, and the way grace seems to fall so often on the projects. 

“What we have learned is one size does not fit all in education,” Niswonger says of the flexibility the partnerships require. 

“Not everyone needs to get a four-year liberal arts degree, and we’re running into a severe shortage of people that can actually do things with their hands, build those houses in Mountain City.” 

Just because the foundation and school systems are willing to be flexible, though, doesn’t mean everything falls right into place. The programs tend to be so “outside the box” that persistence is a must. 

In Mountain City, for instance setting up a system that allowed the schools to operate the building program as a financially self-sustaining entity was by no means easy. 

They managed, though, and Niswonger says the results have been great.

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JUNE 15, 2010 



The Niswonger Foundation’s School Success Symposium is designed to showcase some of the most successful educational accomplishments in East Tennessee and to allow educators the opportunity to participate in quality professional development activities.

The 2010 School Success Symposium will not only continue to highlight these accomplishments but will also offer special opening and closing sessions. Complete details for each session can be found in the enclosed brochure. We are pleased to be able to offer sessions for school board members, directors of schools, central office personnel, principals and teachers. Our goal is to learn from each other and create a network of teachers and administrators with a common vision and a common commitment to excellence.

This conference is open to anyone interested in improving the educational opportunities for students in the Northeast Tennessee area. There is no charge to attend and lunch will be provided by the Niswonger Foundation. All attendees will be given a certificate of participation.

Because we anticipate a large attendance, registration will close on June 1, 2010. We will not accept on-site registrations. It is important that everyone pre-register.

Please follow the links below for further information.

Brochure and registration:


Registration Form Only:

UserFiles/File/Registration Form Only.docx

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Niswonger Scholar Grace Williams Counts Her Blessings


Grace and Uncle Paul Brown in Mexico

Counting My Blessings
A Life Changing Experience to Ixtepec, Mexico
Medical Mission Trip - March 2010

By Grace Williams

Growing up you always hear, or at least I did, about the impoverished countries around the world. I clearly remember being told to count my blessings on multiple occasions, but not until I experienced such uncomfortable conditions as the ones on my trip to Mexico did I fully grasp the validity in what I had been told for years.

Getting to the village of Ixtepec was a long and winding journey, literally. The road we traveled took us up a mountain road that was big enough for a small car and we were on a charter bus (you can imagine my anxiety as I looked out the window down at a cliff). I went on the trip with the Mexico Medical Mission team headed by Jim Dougherty and my Uncle Paul Brown who headed up the team of doctors. We had come to supply this small village with medications and medical care. The village had no hospital, doctors, medicines, or even simple vitamins. I can't tell you how many times I had to write out directions for taking a daily vitamin-something so natural to us yet unknown to them. We, the women, spent four days living in the mayors house and the men stayed at the church. The women all received beds or cots and the men slept on benches and cots- by the end of the week my back was throbbing, but on our the last day, I went on a home visit and saw what a normal villager house and bed looked like. There was a bed that was lying on the floor; it was two boards and some blankets, not even a pillow in sight. I suddenly did not feel the need to complain of my backache.

We spent the week filling approximately 2000 prescriptions and seeing over 500 patients. From little children to the old and crippled, we saw it all - head injuries that left some with holes in their heads that had been there for years, little children with teeth rotting out, and even a woman whose diabetes had caused her so much trouble that her leg had to be amputated from the repercussions of not being treated. The cases were numerous but everywhere, even in these terrible circumstances, there were smiles…little children running and laughing in the streets, the woman catering to our needs to fill our stomachs, and the men always there to lend a hand in some way. I cannot capture all the memories and eye opening things I saw in words. It would be impossible to describe the warmth I felt from the villagers and the satisfaction I found in helping others. The humble spirits, happy hearts, and love for the Lord that was so evident there can only be expressed by a personal witness of it. But I will say, I learned to truly count my blessings- a lesson I hope to keep with me forever.

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Patrick Brown, on drums at left in the above photo, was excited to perform in his hometown of Greeneville when the Purdue Varsity Glee Club presented a stunning concert on Friday, March 12th.  The Niswonger Performing Arts Center was filled to near capacity, and the expectations of the audience were far exceeded. Congratulations to The Purdue Varsity Glee Club for a stellar performance.



Jason Light - University of Tennessee-Knoxville - Freshman

Jason has accepted a summer internship with Bristol Tennessee Electric.  Jason is both thrilled and excited for this opportunity, and we are very proud of him.



Meredith Wachs - College of William & Mary - Senior

Meredith has been accepted to Math for America.  She is very excited about having this opportunity to teach in Washington. 

Tyler Boyd - Vanderbilt University - Junior

Tyler has been honored with membership in the All-American Jersey Sale Committee.  He is the committee's youngest member.

Will Brummett - Elon University - Freshman

Will has been awarded the Sigma Phi Epsilon "Balanced Man Scholarship"

Tom Cully - Indiana Wesleyan University - Senior

Tom has been awarded the Sonshine Arabian Farm Scholarship for Veterinary Medicine.  He is planning to attend Cornell University.



Law Loving - Tulane University - Sophomore

Law will be doing an internship this summer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.

Rian Rainey - Ohio State University - Senior

Rian has accepted a position as an engineering consultant for Accenture, one of the largest consulting firms in the world.


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Purdue's Glee Club Thrills NPAC Crowd


The Purdue Varsity Glee Club, including Greenevillian and Niswonger Scholar Patrick Brown on the drums, at left, presented a stunning concert of eclectic music Friday evening at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  The group played to a near-capacity crowd.

The highlight of the evening for many in the audience came during the segment by "Ba-Na-Na," four black-leather-coated members of the glee club who had changed into jeans and white T-shirts.

Patrick  performed with this group that features music (and dance moves) made popular by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Darin, and the Drifters in songs of the 1950's and 1960's.

During the Ba-Na-Nas' performance, Patrick left the stage briefly and returned with his mother as he - and then the group - performed one of her favorite songs, "My Girl."

Patrick also presented his mother with one of his two glee club lavalieres, a chain and emblem of the group's mascot, Purdue Pete, and expressed his deep appreciatin and love for her and his father, adding a hug and a kiss.

Jane Brown said the presentation came as a surprise and was "very emotional."



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Thomas Cully, Indiana Wesleyan University
Meredith Wachs, College of William & Mary
Lucas Deloach, Vanderbilt University
Adriana Penalba, Georgetown University
Chelsea Goodson, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Patrick Brown, Purdue University
Trey Reliford, Sewanee University
(Not pictured)
Rian Rainey, Ohio State University
Todd Skelton, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Jessica Verran-Lingard, Vanderbilt University

Trenton “Dakota”Grindstaff, a freshman at East Tennessee State University has received an appointment to West Point.

Todd Skelton, a senior at University of Tennessee-Knoxville has been accepted to University of Tennessee Law School.

Patrick Brown, a senior at Purdue University and a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club, will get to shine in his hometown of Greeneville when the Glee Club performs at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on March 12 at 7:30 P.M.

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Todd Skelton, Senior, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Todd Skelton has been selected as part of the University of Tennessee contingent to attend the Posters at the Capitol event in February.  Select students from universities across the state will be there to present their research and interact with legislators.

Trey Reliford, Senior, Sewanee University

Trey Reliford has been accepted to Phi Sigma Alpha Honor Society for Political Science.

Will Brummett, Freshman, Elon University

Will Brummett has been honored with a Sigma Phi Epsilon "Balanced Man Scholarship"

Tom Cully, Senior, Indiana Wesleyan University

Tom Cully has been accepted to Ohio State University and Cornell University Veterinary Schools.  At this time, Tom is undecided as to which school he will attend for graduate studies.

Brandon Reeser, 2009 graduate of Furman University

Brandon Reeser has been accepted to Emory University, Vanderbilt University and University of Tennesse-Knoxville for graduate studies.  At this time, Brandon is undecided as to which school he will attend.

Rachel Mixon, Junior, Purdue University

Rachel Mixon is completing a Study Abroad program at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China for the Spring Semester 2010.  She is majoring in mechanical engineering.


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Niswonger Scholars Meet for Winter Leadership Training

Greeneville, Tennessee, January 7, 2010: The Niswonger Foundation conducted its annual Winter Leadership Training for their Niswonger Scholars on December 28-29, 2009 at the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville. The theme for this year’s training was “Becoming a First-Time Manager.” Among those making presentations at this year’s training were Scott M. Niswonger, founder and benefactor of the Niswonger Foundation, Mr. Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, the Foundation’s former Executive Director, and Bradley Brown, an alumnus of the Niswonger Scholars program, who is an investment banking analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York City.

The current Niswonger Scholars are (FRESHMEN): Will Brummett, Jefferson City, Elon University; James Durham, Limestone, Notre Dame University; Johneshia Good, Johnson City, East Tennessee State University; Dakota Grindstaff, Mountain City, East Tennessee State University; Elizabeth Jones, Johnson City, Clemson University; Jason Light, Blountville, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Kayla Williams, Russellville, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; (SOPHOMORES) Taylor Ashby, Dandridge, East Tennessee State University; Keith Cradic, Church Hill, Tennessee Tech University; Jordan Kim, Morristown, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Law Loving, Johnson City, Tulane University; Rachel Witt, Mountain City, Vanderbilt University; (JUNIORS) Matt Bible, Mosheim, Tennessee Tech University; Emily Hollingsworth, Sevierville, Belmont University; Lauren Hopson, Unicoi, East Tennessee State University; Sean McCullough, Dandridge, Notre Dame University; Rachel Mixon, Rogersville, Purdue University; Ian Sams, Watauga, University of Alabama; Lauren Williams, Greeneville, East Tennessee State University; (SENIORS) Patrick Brown, Greeneville, Purdue University; Tom Cully, Van Wert, Ohio, Indiana Wesleyan University; Lucas Deloach, Elizabethton, Vanderbilt University; Chelsea Goodson, Greeneville, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Adriana Penalba, Whitesburg, Georgetown University; Rian Rainey, Van Wert, Ohio, Ohio State University; Trey Reliford, Strawberry Plains, Sewanee University; Todd Skelton, Surgoinsville, University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Jessica Verran-Lingard, Johnson City, Vanderbilt University; and Meredith Wachs, Mountain City, College of William & Mary.

Several Niswonger Scholar Alumni joined this group for a dinner honoring the Foundation’s former Executive Director, Oliver “Buzz” Thomas. Thomas recently resigned as Executive Director after serving eight years in this position. Scholar Alumni attending this event, were Ben Fox, Gray, a graduate of Washington University; Elizabeth Loy, Johnson City, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania; Brandon Reeser, Johnson City, a graduate of Furman University; Cole Seaton, Mosheim, a graduate of Vanderbilt University; Katie Baker, Greeneville, a graduate of Furman University (undergraduate) and University of Alabama-Birmingham (graduate studies); Bradley Brown, Elizabethton, a graduate of M.I.T.; Virginia Hines, Johnson City, a graduate of Boston University; Brandi Ricker, Paulding, Ohio, a graduate of University of Michigan; Joe Watson, Greeneville, a graduate of Furman University (undergraduate) and University of Tennessee-Knoxville (graduate studies); and Katie Williams, Elizabethton a graduate of University of Tennessee-Knoxville. There are a total of 21 Scholar Alumni.

Niswonger Scholars participate in two formal leadership training experiences each year. Scholars are chosen primarily for their leadership potential, commitment to personal excellence and to service in their home communities. Their scholarship provides the opportunity to attend the college or university of choice. In exchange, the Scholars commit to returning to serve in their home communities.

Established in 2001, the Niswonger Foundation was founded by Scott M. Niswonger, the Greeneville businessman and philanthropist who remains the Foundation’s sole benefactor. The mission of the Foundation is: “To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education.”

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