Cleveland State Community College President Bill Seymour with the College of the Year College Cup award received at the College System of Tennessee's SOAR Awards last month. Photo courtesy of Cleveland State. Contributed Photo/Times Free Press

The College System of Tennessee recently honored Cleveland State Community College as college of the year.

The college was awarded the new College Cup at the system's Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) event held last month. The college was awarded the honor based on student performance improvement, overcoming obstacles and program expansion.

Leadership Hamilton County Schools 2018-19 graduates

› Joshua Sneideman, vice president at Learning Blade

› Miles Huff, community relations specialist at Unum

› Tag Thompson, entrepreneur

› Chad Jaynes, solutions development manager at Chattanooga State College

› Sabrena Smedley, District 7 Hamilton County commissioner

› Molly Blankenship, vice president of talent initiatives at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

› Kristen Pavlik McCallie, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center

› Troy Brand, senior pastor of the Orchard Park Seventh-day Adventist Church

› Amber Hoyle, director of Site-Based Programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga

› Geoff Ramsey, 2018 president of Greater Chattanooga Realtors board of directors

› Jeanette Omarkhail, president of the Hamilton County Education Association

› Rachel DeVore, director of education at the Bethlehem Center

› Strat Parrott, president and chief creative/technology strategist for Juncture

› Demetrus Coonrod, District 9 Chattanooga city councilwoman

› Christine Bespalec-Davis, manager of school and teacher programs at the Hunter Museum of American Art

› Gina Stafford, assistant vice chancellor for marketing and communications at UTC

"Awards like this don't just happen. Our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly for years. Dedication to pathways and college completion have permeated our campus for years," said Cleveland State President Bill Seymour in a statement. "We have changed our culture to make sure we are totally focused on student success. This award goes to over 300 people back in Cleveland, Tennessee."

The college has grown its enrollment, but has also had significant improvements in retention and graduation rates, particularly for minority students, and increased the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded by 10 percent in the past year, according to a news release.


Tennessee students advance to National History Day competition

Sixty-eight students will represent Tennessee in the final stage of competition at National History Day this June, after placing first or second in their categories at Tennessee History Day on April 13.

Participants entered documentaries, exhibits, performances, websites and papers all based on this year's theme, "Triumph and Tragedy in History." Out of 162 submitted projects, 102 students received medals for their efforts, 20 students were awarded special prizes and two teachers were recognized as educators of the year.

"I'm delighted to see 68 of Tennessee's brightest students advance to compete at National History Day," said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett in a statement. "Their participation encourages the study of local and national history and helps them engage in important societal topics that have shaped our state and country. I'm proud to support this program and wish participants luck as they take the national stage this summer."

The national competition will take place June 9 to 13 at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.


Apison Elementary School to host summer STEM camp

Camp Invention, a nationally recognized, nonprofit summer enrichment camp program, is coming to Apison Elementary School this summer.

Using hands-on activities, Camp Invention promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in a fun and engaging environment, according to a news release.

The program, which serves 130,000 students across the country every year, is a partnership between the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Hands-on activities include pretending to run one's own farm, battling villains and virtual superheroes and working with remote-controlled robots.

For more information, visit


First class of Leadership Hamilton County Schools graduates

Hamilton County Schools celebrated the first class of graduates from its new community engagement program uniting local community members and businesses to the district at last week's school board meeting.

Throughout the year, participants get an in-depth look inside the district through sessions focused on education governance, an overview of the Future Ready 2023 five-year district action plan, communications, Future Ready Institutes, budgeting, transportation and more.

"We have been able to see all of the amazing things that the educators in Hamilton County Schools are doing to change the trajectory for our students," said Miles Huff, community relations specialist for Unum, in a statement. "I am really grateful for the experience."

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