Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Facebook Twitter

2012 News Archive


Expect More/Achieve More Coalition


The Niswonger Foundation is proud to be a charter member of the Expect More/Achieve More coalition. 

This group, the Expect More/Achieve More coalition, seeks to build statewide and local awareness of Tennessee's ongoing effort to raise expectations in the classroom through the Common Core State Standards.

Visit the Expect More/Achieve More website at 

Back to Top


The Niswonger Foundation is leading the transition to Internet-based learning.

The Niswonger Foundation has partnered with 29 area high schools to offer more educational opportunities through online and distance learning education.

This summer about five percent of all students in the 29 high schools in the 1st Congressional District were enrolled in online classes.

The courses that the Niswonger Foundation creates are through the area high school programs. They find an educator that is leading the way in their classroom and work with that individual to bring their classroom experience to the Web platform. This can include video clips, text reading, recorded lectures and other means of learning.

Tennessee has not passed any legislation dictating online education. However, the Niswonger Foundation is leading the way through its online and distance learning education. The infusion of federal funds in 2010 jump started the program. The federal money was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to fund a new consortium of 15 Northeast Tennessee school systems. The Northeast Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium serves the 29 area high schools and is under the Niswonger Foundation.

This “Investing in Innovation” i3 grant allowed the Foundation to add personnel, training and technology infrastructure.

The Foundation spent the previous years, under the direction of Linda Irwin, a vice president with the Foundation, really educating the schools about the opportunities offered through distance learning and online education as well as outfitting the school with the correct technology and bandwidth.

Every high school has at least one Distance Learning Lab, which includes cameras, multiple TV screens, two-way audio and document readers to create a virtual classroom experience. The schools also have eight laptops designated for distance learning to meet the need of the individual student.

Distance learning classes are taught in real time and allow students in remote classrooms to ask questions and interact with a teacher in the home classroom.  Each classroom has a proctor to facilitate the learning experience.

Every online class allows the students to work through at their own pace but under the guidance of a facilitator who is available for questions, to offer the needed prodding if a student gets behind as well as any technological support.



Back to Top





On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Arun Gandhi was the featured speaker for the Niswonger Foundation’s summer training program for their Niswonger Scholars.  Mr. Gandhi is the grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mahatma Gandhi.  He spoke on the topic “Lessons I Learned from my Grandfather.”

Growing up under the apartheid laws of South Africa, Arun Gandhi learned from his parents and grandparents that justice does not mean revenge, it means transforming the opponent through love and suffering.  His grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, taught Arun to understand nonviolence through understanding violence. “If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world.” Gandhi states.

Arun Gandhi shares his “lessons learned” with audiences around the world.  In addition, he is involved in social programs.  He and his late wife, Sunanda, spent almost 30 years in India working with friends to help the oppressed and abandoned children using his grandfather’s philosophy of SARVODAYA – the “Welfare of All Citizens.”  During these years, they rescued and found homes for almost 130 abandoned children and developed several economic programs that successfully changed the lives of thousands of impoverished people.

In May 2008, Arun Gandhi launched the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, in the United States.  This institute was established to promote community building in economically depressed areas of the world through the joining of Gandhian philosophy and vocational education for children and their parents.  The Institute has embarked on an ambitious program to help eradicate poverty and human degradation.  Gandhi states: “Poverty is the worst form of violence and must be tackled on all fronts to ensure human rights and human dignity to those who are victims of societal exploitation.”  

The initial priority of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute is to rescue children from the poorest sections of Indian society who are the first to become victims of crime.  The second priority is to build an institution that serves as a shelter as well as a learning center where the rescued children will receive basic and vocational education.  The third priority will be to help the graduates of this center establish a small business or find them suitable employment. The fourth priority is to work with the impoverished parents of these children to see how best the Institute can help the family get out of the poverty that consumes them. 

Arun Gandhi addressed a gathering of the Niswonger Scholars during their summer leadership training at the General Morgan Inn, in Greeneville.  Niswonger Scholars are chosen primarily for their leadership potential and commitment to the betterment of themselves and their home communities.  Niswonger Scholars may select the college or university of their choice. They are required to participate in leadership development activities and encouraged to pursue internships and study abroad.  Most importantly, they commit to return to Northeast Tennessee for at least one year of service in the career of their choice for each year they receive scholarship support.  The hope is that by enabling these students to pursue their academic passions and by cultivating their leadership abilities, they will return to their homes to be leaders in their professions and a catalyst for future change in Northeast Tennessee. 

Back to Top



Highlights from Our Northeast Tennessee College

and Career Ready Consortium (NETCO)


NETCO Facts:

Serves 85,700 Students ~ 3,491 square miles ~ Second largest Educational Service Area in Tennessee ~

Made possible through a $21 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education


America’s Promise Summit

(L-R) Larry Neas, Vivian Franklin and Linda Irwin

Student Support

                    In the first term of this school year, NETCO counselors worked to “pave the way” for college readiness by making individual contact with over 6000 of our region’s high school students, training 940 students to use the College forTN career system, meeting with 3500 students in group settings, and assisting in testing 26,500 students.


                    Over 480 students were enrolled in online courses, which are designed to expand their course options and college readiness.


                    A pilot program was created at Morristown East and Morristown West High Schools to explore the use of iPads to increase student involvement and access to higher level math and science courses. Teachers were trained in the use of this technology as an instructional tool.

                    Sullivan County and Washington County Schools are, for the first time, participating in distance learning classes. High schools in each county are offering at least one distance learning class.

                    NETCO Counselors have co-hosted 16 Parent/Student Financial Aid Nights to assist in completing the college financial aid process.


Staff News and Professional Development

                    Staff members have been present at seven professional conferences. Among these, NETCO staff were among the presenters at the following:

  •  America's Promise Grad Nation Summit, in Washington D.C.
  • The Tennessee School Counselors and Administrator Leadership Institute, in Murfreesboro, TN
  • The Smokey Mountain Counseling Association, in Morristown, TN

                    Thirty-two school administrators representing 27 of NETCO’s 29 high schools attended the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Annual Conference in Tampa, Florida.


                    A pod-cast was conducted for the National College Admissions Counselors Association. This program focused on our college and career counselors’ work on college and financial aid application assistance.

                    Two new counselors have joined the NETCO staff. Darrin Burchette will serve Carter County and Donnell Goode will serve Tennessee High, Dobyns-Bennett and Volunteer High Schools. (See Welcome New Counselors, page 10)


Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities


                    The Sixth Annual Niswonger Foundation School Success Symposium will be held on Thursday, June 21, 2012, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. The registration deadline is June 7. Registration information is available at the Niswonger Foundation Learning Center website at


                    Professional Development Day will be held on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Over 1,700 high school teachers are anticipated to meet at 12 different sites, throughout the region, based on their subject area of expertise. In addition, November 6, 2012 will be a Regional Professional Development Day, representing the first time that all 15 school systems have designated a common professional development experience.

                    With an invitation from NETCO, the College Board will be offering Advanced Placement (AP) Biology retraining in Greeneville on July 9-13, 2012.


Back to Top


NETCO Professional Learning Collaboration Day

All High School Teachers & Administrators Are Encouraged To Attend.




8:30 - 9:30

Registration & Complimentary Continental Breakfast


9:30 - 11:30

General Session - Specific Common Core Overview (Consultants provided by NETCO)


11:30 - 12:30

Lunch (Compliments of NETCO)


12:30 - 2:30

Small Group Sessions/Discussions

"What do you need to do to implement/accomplish/support The Common Core Standards in your area?"  Using this information, a plan will be developed for future professional development sessions, the first of which will be held on November 6th.

Specific subject groups (Math/Science/English/Social Studies/Foreign Language/Counselors/Librarians/CTE/Special Education/Fine Arts/Wellness/Administrators) will meet at locations across the NETCO Region.

Teacher Option for Full Day Attendance: Choose a day of PD credit or receive a $200 American Express gift card.

To register go to:


Back to Top



The Niswonger Foundation is proud to present the sixth annual School Success Education Symposium on Thursday, June 21 2012.  Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, TN.  The Symposium is offered free of charge to all Northeast Tennessee Educators. 

Please follow the link below for brochure and registration.

/uploads/files/School Success Program and registration.pdf

Back to Top








Registration Information Available April 16th

Back to Top


Niswonger Foundation Sponsors Regional School Concert



On Thursday, March 15, the Niswonger Foundation provided funding for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra to perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center (NPAC) for students throughout the first congressional district of East Tennessee.  This concert marked the ninth year of support for this effort.  Each year, more than 2,000 students from our region attend these performances.  The students are treated to orchestra, dance, and opera by some of our state's most talented musicians, vocalists and performers.  Many, if not most, of these students have never attended an orchestral performance.  The Niswonger Foundation supports the belief that developing an appreciation for the arts is an important aspect of becoming an educated person.

Comment received from Robbie Poteete, Eastview ElementarySchool

"I just wanted to take a moment on behalf of all the staff and students of Eastview Elementary to say thank you for your time, efforts, talent, and hard work that you do for our community and surrounding area.  This morning's orchestra concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is just a shining example of your hard work.  It was wonderful to see and hear students enjoy themselves this morning.  Without you, Mr. Niswonger and your entire staff at the Foundation, today would not be possible.  From all of us at Eastview Elementary, we applaud you and say a big THANK YOU!"


Robbie Poteete, Eastview Music Specialist

Back to Top



Niswonger Scholars Meet for Winter Leadership Training

The Niswonger Foundation conducted its annual Winter Leadership Training for their Niswonger Scholars on December 30-31, 2011 at the General Morgan Inn, in Greeneville. The theme for this year’s training was “Becoming a Social Entrepreneur.” Among those making presentations at this year’s training were Brian Rosecrance, Executive Director, Interfaith Hospitality Network, who discussed his perspectives of social entrepreneurship. Robin Shepherd, Landair Accountant, gave a presentation of the “Whys and Hows” of the Angel Fund. Niswonger alumni Katie Baker, Cole Seaton, Adam Miller, Brandi Ricker, Brandon Reeser, Jessica Freshour, Meredith Wachs, Matt Bible, Sean McCullough, Lauren Williams and Tyler Boyd served as a panel to offer their experiences and guidance to the younger Scholars.

After the completion of the first general session and dinner, everyone was delighted to gather in the lobby of the General Morgan Inn for entertainment from two current Niswonger Scholars, Jason Light, on the guitar and Alex Smyth, on the keyboard. Additional Alumni and guests joined the celebration.

The current Niswonger Scholars are (FRESHMEN): Jordan Frye, Piney Flats, University of Tennessee; Lillie Seal, Sneedville, Lincoln Memorial University; Alex Smith, Greene County, Furman University; Christopher Steadman, Blountville, University of Tennessee; Francisco Ochoa-Vargas, Johnson City, Vanderbilt University; (SOPHOMORES) Alex Croghan, Greene County, Lipscomb University; Yaying Wang, Greene County, Emory University; Scott White, Johnson City, University of Tennessee; (JUNIORS) Will Brummett, Jefferson City, Elon University; James Durham, Greene County, University of Notre Dame; Johneshia Good, Johnson City, Milligan College; Elizabeth Jones, Johnson City, Clemson University; Jason Light, Blountville, University of Tennessee; Kayla Williams, Russellville, University of Tennessee;; (SENIORS) Jordan Kim, Morristown, University of Tennessee; Law Loving, Johnson City, Tulane University; Rachel Witt, Mountain City, Vanderbilt University.

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.



Back to Top