Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: October 19, 2009

For more information contact, Pat O'Brien, (901) 333-4021

Southwest Students to Use Skills for Real World Research Project

Southwest Tennessee Community College students will use newly-learned business statistics concepts to prepare the groundwork for classes designed to raise educational and achievement levels for residents in the Brinkley Heights Community. The project is a collaborative with the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement (CSLCE) office led by Shannon Little, assistant professor of social behavioral sciences for Southwest, and the Brinkley Heights Community. Southwest service resources will be made available to the residents of the community and the Brinkley Heights Urban Academy (BHUA). The Corporate Training and Continuing Education (CT&CE) department will design and teach adult classes.

BHUA is a private school supported by the Brinkley Heights Church. It is "operated on an interventionist philosophy with emphasis on modifying, as needed, practices of early childhood education," according to BHUA Executive Director Tim Cox, and Director of Development Arlenia Cole. Cox also pastors Brinkley Heights Church. The school, located at 3275 Rosamond Avenue in North Memphis, offers pre-K3 through fifth grade classes, and adds a grade each year.

Cox also is working to reach out to the community with education and job skills to help break the cycle of poverty, and has developed valuable community partnerships to help. "We hope they can, for one thing, provide mentors to help inspire and motivate adult students to become self-sufficient," said Cox. Community partnerships include Schering Plough Corporation, Buckeye Technologies and others. Southwest President Nathan L. Essex is encouraging continued support of the project by CSLCE and CT&CE, and Memphis Mayor Elect A C Wharton has involved himself in it as well.

In the initial phase, students of Dr. Joan McGrory, associate professor, business administration, will apply course concepts such as data collection and analysis to design a survey to determine the frequency and demographics of Brinkley Heights adults interested in General Education Development (GED), financial literacy, various soft skills, WorkKeys®, and even technical certificates. The students "will design with the end in mind," said McGrory. "That is, they will submit instruments to tabulate the results of the survey, summarize the data, and present the findings using statistical techniques including frequency distribution tables, histograms, and cross tabulation tables."

Sharlene Williams, assistant director of CT&CE, will lead the first educational phase, using the statistical data developed by the students to evaluate class dates and times, and determine the greatest needs. Amy Shead, director for workforce development support, will administer the WorkKeys® program.

"This is a win-win for all," declared McGrory. "Our students will gain practical experience, Southwest will advance the workforce readiness of our Memphis community, and Brinkley Heights will have an opportunity to increase job skills and improve lives."

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Photo caption: Left to right: Shannon Little, Terrence Reed, vice president of human resources at Buckeye Technologies, Dr. Joan McGrory, Arlenia Cole, Rev. Tim Cox, Amy Shead, Mary Park, AmeriCorps-VISTA liaison for Southwest, and Sharlene Williams.