February 2017

Creating Opportunities for Individual and Community Growth through 
Education and Other Sustainable Projects.

Niswonger Foundation Congratulates Scott M. Niswonger
Presented Coveted Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award
At a formal ceremony on Tuesday, at the General Morgan Inn, in Greeneville, Scott M. Niswonger, Chairman and Founder of the Niswonger Foundation, was presented the most prestigious award the Federal Aviation Administration issues to pilots.  This award is named for Wilber and Orville Wright, American brothers and aviators who are credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane.  The award recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years, while piloting aircraft as "Master Pilots." 
Past recipients of this award are a "who's who" list of notables in aviation, including Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan; and legendary icon and businessman, Arnold Palmer. 
Lew Kunkle, recently retired Chief Pilot with Niswonger's local aviation company, Sky Night LLC, was the master of ceremonies for the luncheon event.  Kunkel introduced Nick Popovich, longtime friend of Niswonger, as the initial speaker.  Popovich cofounded Sage-Popovich, a global aviation services company.  His remarks focused on the impact that Niswonger has had on his life, sharing that his example has been Popovich's inspiration to give back to his own community. 
Niswonger with Holleman
Charles Holleman, Professor Emeritus from Purdue University, provided comments regarding Niswonger's lifetime of achievement.  He shared that Niswonger took his first flight lessons at the age of twelve, soloed on his sixteenth birthday, and received his private pilot license on his seventeenth birthday. Holleman was one of Niswonger's professors and Chairman of the Aviation and Transportation Technology program at Purdue.  Holleman commented about the passion and desire for learning that Niswonger exhibited as a student.  Furthermore, he recognized him for his lifetime of philanthropic and personal contributions to Purdue University and the Purdue aviation program. It is notable that past recipients and friends of Niswonger's, Astronants Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, are fellow graduates of Purdue University.

Five New Niswonger Scholars Selected

Austin Blazer
Brittany Church
Emily Ellison
Lorraine Hayes
Tyler "Ty" Myers

The NISWONGER FOUNDATION has selected five high school seniors to join the Niswonger Scholars program.  Currently, there are 21 Niswonger Scholars, with the newly selected students for 2017 bringing the total to 26.  The Foundation also has 61 alumni of the program.
The Niswonger Foundation is leaving our mark in this region with the Niswonger Scholars. We know of no other Scholarship and Leadership program like ours in the United States.  Niswonger Scholars are selected through a nomination process that seeks to identify the region's best and brightest future leaders.  They are given the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for success in their field of study, while participating in our four-year leadership program. Through an emphasis on leadership, business management, community service and ethical decision making, the Scholars are provided travel, training, internships, and personalized support to become model leaders and citizens of the world.  

Announcing Niswonger Foundation
CareerConnect Program

Law Loving Addresses Media
At a Media Event held on Wednesday, January 11, at West Greene High School, the Niswonger Foundation announced CareerConnect, a new workforce readiness and career exploration initiative for 10th - 12th graders. This three-year program, in partnership with Greene County and Greeneville City Schools, is designed to provide students the opportunity to explore career paths, develop "soft" skills and academic credentials, and gain real-world work experience. The pilot program officially began in Fall 2016 with the selection of 100 10th grade participants, called Explorers. Twenty Explorers were chosen from each of the five high schools located in Greene County.  Explorers and their parents participated in a program orientation in December.
The Niswonger Foundation has initiated this project to guide and support
Law Loving Instructs Students
students in building the critical skills necessary for future workplace success.  The focus of the project is on high school students who are most in need of developing an understanding of career opportunities.  Other than jobs held by family members, friends, or seen on TV, students are limited in their understanding of careers available to them. Often, they have had little or no support for considering personal options and identifying their unique skill sets. Students who are not viewed as "college bound" are, historically, among the least likely to receive career counseling in their school environments. 

NiswongerCare News
College and Career Advising

The phrase "It takes a village" never rings truer than when it comes to helping students and parents complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Since the October 1, 2016 opening date,  NiswongerCARE Advisors and their leadership team have worked alongside numerous school professionals: High School Counselors,  Advise TN College Advisors, GEAR UP Advisors, TSAC representative Erica Adams, college financial aid and admissions representatives, and other college outreach professionals.  All these individuals had one goal, to guide students in completing this critical step in the college going process.  The Tennessee Higher Education Commission promoted state-wide TN FAFSA Frenzy events. NiswongerCARE Advisors helped to organize over 65 events in the 30 high school they serve in Northeast Tennessee. These events enabled students and parents to receive assistance in completing their FAFSA application with the help of experienced professionals. 

An unprecedented 73% of seniors in the Niswonger Consortium submitted
their FAFSA applications by the TN Promise deadline of January 17, 2017.  Notably, fourteen of these high schools have already exceeded last year's twelve- month total of students completing a FAFSA within the first three months of the application's opening date. Most all post-secondary institutions require FAFSA applications to determine eligibility for scholarships and grants. Research shows that approximately 90% of all students who complete the FAFSA application will enroll in post-secondary education.
The staff of the Niswonger Foundation expresses appreciation to those who assisted in this effort, and congratulates the students who have taken an important step towards a successful future.

The Niswonger Foundation's online program is currently in its 6th year and getting close to reaching an extraordinary goal of almost 8,000 credits earned. It is an exciting time as we see online use grow throughout northeast Tennessee, and as we expand and offer our courses to more rural school systems throughout Tennessee.

There are numerous benefits of online learning, many of which go well beyond learning the content of the course.  Much needed computer skills and soft skills, such as time-management, are also learned in an online environment. This further prepares students to be college and career ready.

The 17 school systems in the Niswonger Consortium are utilizing online courses to help their students succeed.  Below is a list of participating high schools who can now boast that 15% or more of their student body has successfully earned an online credit.This is not an easy achievement. The Niswonger Foundation honors their success.

Cocke County - 15% Greeneville - 26% North Greene - 16% Unaka - 37%
Daniel Boone - 18% Hampton - 15% Science Hill - 18% Unicoi - 15%
David Crocket - 20%
Morristown East - 18%
Sullivan South - 15%

The Niswonger Foundation expresses appreciation to those who support this successful regional initiative - parents, teachers, school and school system leadership, and Boards of Education.  

Changing the Future "One Book at a Time"
Celebration Engages Community in a Focus on Literacy
As the 2016-17 school year opened, the Niswonger Foundation joined in partnership with Greene County Schools to introduce a pilot literacy program with the goal of increasing the likelihood that children are reading and comprehending on grade level by third grade.  The LIFE program  (Literacy Initiative Focused on Effectiveness) was initiated in seventeen classrooms, in three schools - Chuckey Elementary, Glenwood Elementary and Ottway Elementary.   

Community and parental engagement activities are viewed as an essential element for the success of this program.  In October, a  "Day in the Life" brought families, in record numbers, to each school for an introduction to this new literacy initiative. As the second community involvement initiative, a   Charlotte's Web Reading Celebration was held, on November 12 th, at the Greene County Fairgrounds.  Co-sponsored by Greene County Schools and the Niswonger Foundation, the event was entitled  "Developing a Community of Readers: Changing our future one book at a time." While the focus of the fair was students from pre-K through 12th grades, there were activities to engage all ages. The overarching theme was building excitement about the power of books and reading.  

Niswonger Foundation Receives "Faith In The Future" Award

Dr. Dishner with Master of Ceremonies, Josh Smith
The Niswonger Foundation was honored to receive the "Faith In The Future" Award, presented by CenturyLink and the Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and received by, Dr. Nancy Dishner, President & CEO of the Foundation. The award ceremony was held at the Millennium Centre on November 3, 2016. The Foundation received the award in the Non-Profit category for providing approximately 50 million dollars in support of local schools over the past 15 years.

Recipients were evaluated based on their commitment to the future of their business, their employees, their community and the region. 

Dr. Dishner stated, "This is an amazing tribute to the work our team does every day. They are a blessing in my life as well as the lives of so many children and families in our region."
Niswonger Scholars Shine

Savannah Agan  (Milligan College, freshman) has transferred to Milligan College from University of Tennessee.

Sam Brashears  (Wake Forest University, senior) is listed as  co-author on   two scholarly articles pending publication:  "Transfusion of aged red blood cells enhances Klebsiella pneumoniae extrapulmonary dissemination and suppresses host immunity"  and  "Parenteral Irons Vs. Transfused Red Cells for Treatment of Anemia in a Canine Model of Pneumonia." The latter of which is being considered by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine (AJRCCM). On a different note, he is playing the Carillon (Bells) at Wake Forest.  

Matthew Grimm (University of Tennessee, senior) was honored by being named 2nd Author on the soon to be published research he worked on with Dr. Schoborg at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine.  He won 2nd place for a poster he presented at the College of Nursing Research Day in November. He will be participating in a service abroad program, in Spring, to Ignacio, Belize, through the University of Tennessee College of Nursing.

Alumni Scholar News

Dr. Katie Baker  (Class of 2007) became engaged to William White.

Will Brummett (Class of 2013) received the Dr. O'Brien's coveted,  "C-N Rebar All-Star Award for Excellence and Friendly Service"  at the Spring staff and faculty meeting at Carson-Newman University.  Will is the youngest recipient in the history of the award.

Dr. Jessica Burchette  (Class of 2006) and her husband Darrin announced the birth of their daughter Sadie in December.

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