Monthly Archives: March 2019

Melissa Tingle

PIEDMONT COLLEGE- Professor Melissa Tingle, from the sounds of music to mass communication scholars.

“A happy accident,” Melissa Tingle said when asked how she was led onto the path of teaching. “I was supposed to be a musician, and that’s what originally went to school for.”

Tingle was born in Clayton county where she would grow up in a world of music. This would drive her throughout her life till circumstances would take control. These circumstance would move her away from the life of a musician towards a life of cultivating young scholars.

“I had trained in classical music since i was 4,” she said. “It was something that i had always done and was a part of my family’s expectations and the expectations id set for myself.”

She would follow music as more opportunities opened up to her. It seemed like music was going to be Tingle’s life until faith pushed her towards what would become her passion.

“After i had my first daughter,” she said. “I went back to school and i understood that going back into the music program was going to take to much time from my family… I also felt like i was supposed to be moving in a different direction.”

This led her to enroll in the communication field which would later lead to her position as professor. Although what she learned here would only be a portion of what she uses as a teacher.

“My first work experience was running the cash register for my grandmother every morning.” she said. “I’m talking like 9 and 10 years of age.”

She would continue with this job until the store was sold. When she was a senior she worked with the FUN company which coordinated business events nationwide. While at the time she didn’t know it this work would give her teaching later in life a uniqueness not many have.

“All of my corporate events experience with marketing and promotions, experience with logistics and PR have shaped how i teach that to my students.” she said. “I worked with some really big companies like Coca-Cola, nissan, Fleet, and Toyota learning how to navigate those relationships… Learning how to communicate organizationally to deliver a event, coordinate a event, iaison between key players. Those are things i like to pass onto my students.”

She has used this experience to give a unique education to her student that couldn’t be offered by anyone else. Her students love her classes as much as she loves them.

“Dr. Tingle is a great professor.” said Savannah Richards, Freshman Mass Communications major. “As students, we can tell she cares about the subject material and genuinely wants us to succeed.”

Melissa Tingle’s life has given her the ability to change so many more through teaching. Her experience mixed with her personality will continue to inspire students for generations.

“She taught us to form our own opinions and stand firmly with them.” said Jesskah Stewart, Freshman Mass Communication Major. “I am forever grateful!”

Dr. Al Pleysier

The world can hide amazing things, finding them is half the fun.

Dr. Al Pleysier is one of those few that revels in new places and adventures. Originally from Holland, Pleysier moved to America when he was about 7 years old. But he was never quite sure where life would take him.

“When I was in 6th grade, there was the Soviet Union,” he said. “My geography teacher would lecture on communism and the Soviet Union, and I remember sitting in class and thinking that I would never go – it’s impossible.”

Several years after starting at Piedmont College, Pleysier was asked to participate in an organization called People to People. This organization was meant to connect different people from different cultures around the world in order to de-alienate the foreigners and improve relations between the two cultures. Pleysier was invited to Russia along with about 30 other professors.

“Of course, I thought back to sixth grade when I thought that this would never happen,” he said. “But they do.”

Pleysier met people in that program that he still works with today.

Since then, Pleysier has taken many trips to Russia and other countries for numerous reasons. He has taken trips to Egypt with groups of students in order to learn and appreciate all that another country can offer.  

“We had two very close friends that were Muslims, and they would take us everywhere,” he said. “They would take us places that tourists couldn’t go, to climb pyramids.”

Giving others access to these experiences is something Pleysier holds dear. “I remember one student who was in his 50s and he was with us, and we were going to go climb at night. The moon was out and the stars were gorgeous, and he climbed all the way to the top. This was the second night we were there and he said, ‘Dr. Pleysier you can take me home, this has been worth it.’ ”

Pleysier now plans to go to Vietnam on a bicycle tour and is looking forward to do exactly what he has done in the past: meet people, make memories and explore a new world.

Coach Jenkins Profile

A running magazine shipping mistake led head cross country and track coach Jeff Jenkins to find his lifelong passion and future career in running.

“I got a free running magazine subscription through my school when I was training for the Auburn Special Olympics torch with my Dad, and the magazine was given to me by my high school’s head track coach and he asked me me if I wanted to run,” said Coach Jenkins. “And I said no I play other sports, but the seed was planted that got me interested in running track.”

Jeff Jenkins would try out for baseball that year only to get cut, so Jenkins decided to take the track coach up on his offer. Jenkins did not take seriously at first, but his competitiveness would lead him to strive to become team captain. Jenkins found his passion in wanting to become coach while assisting his coach, leading him to go to Huntington College for a coaching education degree and to continue his running career. After a quick semiprofessional running career, Jenkins became the head cross country coach at Piedmont College, where he is passing on his passion to more runners today.

“Coach Jenkins is a great coach, not only because he’s knowledgeable about the science behind running, but also because he is very caring person,” says senior cross country and track athlete Mackenzie Devine.

Being a senior, Mackenzie is one of the few people on the team that have known Coach Jenkins all four years he has worked at Piedmont. She has had the ability to watch him grow in his coaching abilities as the cross country team grew and as he started the track team at Piedmont three years ago.

“I think this workouts are effective in making you the best athlete you can be,” said senior Nate Crews. ” But more importantly, he works to be a mentor so I can be successful in life.”

Crews sees Jenkins strive to make his athletes the best they can be on and off the track.

Jenkins recalled what was his drive and motive that kept him going in his passion for running.

“I continued to run even as the really competitive races started to be further in the rear view mirror, I realized what drove me from the beginning – that very first track race – it was all about the competitiveness.”

Dr. Gene Pease

Not everybody has the ability to teach. Some believe they can while not making an attempt to understand the blights of their students, however others, like Dr. Gene Pease, teach to the best of their abilities and deeply care for the students. Pease has been the Director of Disability Support at Piedmont College for three years and in those years, she has met some of the nicest students in her career.

Having been a teacher of teachers for years this seemed like a natural fit due to her experience with all types of people she deals with in her field. From her experience she has also learned that the faculty here at Piedmont is filled with those that seek to help students to the most of their abilities. Working relationships with these people are also excellent with teachers taking the time from their busy schedules to even assist other faculty members.

Students such as Jiro Kurokawa, frequently call her one of the nicest teachers, and many believes that everyone should visit her at least once during their stay. With these low class sizes teachers can have more one on one time with their students so they can find problems and rid the students of them easily. Pease also believes that due to the SAIL program, which provides help to freshman allowing them to get acquainted with college life sooner, the students also feel as if they belong and can succeed during their time here. “The thing that has kept me here for all these years is the collaboration between students and faculty.” She says when asked on why she’s stayed for so long.
“The Success Center is a safe place,” she says. “Nothing leaves this office unless permission is given.” It’s clear that Pease cares about the students and their privacy. When people visit the center, due to the large variety of services provided by the school such as job assistance, tutoring, COMPASS help, and counseling nobody can make judgement on the students using the facility since nobody know the reason they’re there for.

After years of working at Piedmont College, Pease shows no sign of stopping her unending support for the students at this school. The Student Success Center is a success due to her and the countless others working with her to bring knowledge and acceptance to those in need at Piedmont, making them feel at home even when miles away.

Tackling Teaching

From private investigator to librarian and published author, Xhenet Aliu now returns to teaching.

“It had always been something that I wanted to get back to,” said Aliu, a librarian on Piedmo

nt’s Athens campus, “but the timing had to be right, and all the stars had to align, which they did this past year.”

Aliu began teaching her first course since graduate school this January. It is a fiction workshop course, which means students’ creative writing is read and critiqued by the other students in the class, not just Aliu. After the success of her critically-acclaimed novel Brass last year, Aliu was asked by Piedmont’s administration if she would be interesting in teaching. The answer was obvious.

“I taught creative writing when I was in grad school, and I taught at conferences and things like that, and I had been wanting to get back into teaching, so, you know, it worked out,” Aliu said.

After graduate school, Aliu struggled to find a job with an English degree, and eventually became a private investigator in New York. She said the firm mostly investigated hedge fund managers and other financial types.

“I really learned how to do research. We had to do a lot of database research in particular, but I didn’t like the things I was researching for this job because I had no interest in the financial world… So, I started looking into library schools,” Aliu said.

Aliu waited until she found a fully-funded program, and eventually got her librarian degree from the University of Alabama in 2013. By this time, she was living in Athens and still working for the private investigation firm. Two years later, a librarian job opened up at Piedmont on the Athens campus. Now she juggles her library responsibilities with teaching.

“It’s been good. I mean, I don’t know anybody who’s like I have time to get everything I want done in my life done, so I don’t have any unique complaints,” Aliu said, “It’s busy. I’m only teaching one class, but I’m also still working full-time at the library, and I also teach classes at the Y and I’m also trying to write.”

Sophomore English major Hadley Cottingham signed up for Aliu’s course to work on her creative writing concentration, not realizing it was a workshop course. However, Cottingham said she has already learned a lot the past two months.

“I love Xhenet’s class. I look forward to every class period, and it’s a class where the work never feels like work,” Cottingham said. “She’s an amazing professor. She has great advice for writers, and she knows what she’s talking about.”

Aliu will be teaching more courses at Piedmont in the future. She talked about a new introduction to creative writing course that she is going to teach.

“There wasn’t a kind of class that you could take that gave you a sample of all of them so that you can figure out which of the genres you’re kinda most interested in pursuing,” Aliu said. “It’ll be fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. That’s also useful because there’s a lot of the craft of each that is helpful for the other genres.”

Cottingham had nothing but enthusiasm discussing Aliu’s current course. When asked if she would take another one of Aliu’s courses, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

“I would absolutely take another creative writing class if she has one. I love getting feedback and learning things I can use in my writing,” Cottingham said. “I have so much inspiration and creative energy again, and this class is a huge reason why.”

Michigan native finds more than a coaching position in Georgia

From one small town to another, Luke Harris has lived a life of baseball dreams. Now assistant baseball coach at Piedmont College, Harris, grew up in Fairview, Michigan. Located just more than an hour west of Lake Huron his passion for sports and small towns began. 

 “I had the chance to be surrounded by people who genuinely cared about myself and the community,” Harris said.  

He was fortunate enough to play sports throughout his childhood. However, when it came to High School he focused on baseball and basketball all four years and ran track for one.  

And he did all this while maintaining a job. It was through this, playing sports and holding a job that Harris learned to work hard. To him, that was his biggest takeaway from his hometown.  

“Not having a lot of free time taught me how to manage my time which translated into college where I was playing baseball and going to school. I feel that having to juggle school, sports and a job in high school really helped prepare me for my career as well,” Harris said.  

It was after high school that Harris found his calling. He attended Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. He was offered a chance to continue his athletic and academic career at Adrian, playing baseball and majoring in secondary social studies education. He played baseball until an injury took his senior year away from him. This led him into coaching.  

Due to his injury, Harris was able to put his foot into a new pathway as a student assistant coach at Adrian College.  

 “My original plan was to teach at a high school and coach baseball” Harris said.  

However, after his experience helping coach in college, he realized that is where he wants to be. He continued coaching at Adrian for four more years as an assistant coach.  

During his time at Adrian he met Jarred Broughton, who is a coach at Piedmont College. Over the years Harris had gained a respect for the Piedmont baseball program. When coaching against Broughton up north, they both found respect for one another. This bond that the two had opened a door for Harris when coach Broughton signed on as an assistant at Piedmont. This past year Harris had a chance to interview for Piedmont’s assistant coaching position before the start of the fall semester. “After coming for an interview, I knew that this was a program that wins at a very high level and that was something I wanted to be a part of,” he said. 

Harris has become a huge addition to the Lions coaching staff. He focuses working with the catchers and is also the strength and conditioning coach for the Lions. Harris said that coaching has taught him a little in every aspect of life. 

 “The biggest thing I’ve learned is how much to value relationships I’ve built with teammates, other coaches, and also players that I’ve coached. At the end of the day, winning baseball games is the goal, but I think the relationships I’ve built throughout coaching far outweigh the wins and losses,” Harris said. 

From a coaching standpoint Harris values his relationships above all. He seems to of found a new home in this small town.  

Jeff Bowers

For Jefferson Bowers, English started his Spanish journey. 

“A lot of people say it’s crazy to see a little white kid speaking Spanish, but it all started when I was 16 years old in English class with a Mexican guy named Hugo” Said Bowers. “I just started messing with him asking stupid typical ignorant questions like, “Do they have TVs down “there” (Mexico)?” and stuff along those lines.”

First year assistant Spanish Professor Jefferson Bowers, originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, graduated from Appalachian State in the fall of 2014 with a masters degree in Spanish, but at first sight you would not expect him to be a Spanish professor. Ironically, his passion for Spanish all began in an English class.

“A lot of people say it’s crazy to see a little white kid speaking Spanish, but it all started when I was 16 years old in English class with a Mexican guy named Hugo” Said Bowers. “I just started messing with him asking stupid typical ignorant questions like, “Do they have TVs down “there” (Mexico)?” and stuff along those lines.” 

Bowers said Hugo’s family always ate dinner earlier than his and often invited him to stay. Sitting around the table was the first exposure to Spanish and since then he’s been listening to music, watching movies, and trying to dive into the culture. “You have to be interested in learning, and motivated to learn… I tried to say everything I said in English in my head in Spanish,” Bowers said “I was obviously very wrong on most of it, but it allowed me to think through the organization of the language.” 

Students say Bowers’ teaching style has been beneficial to them. 

“Jeff has been an incredible Spanish teacher and has really helped me when I needed help understanding different conjugations, and translations,” said sophomore Matt Crumbley who is currently enrolled in Bower’s Spanish 1102 class. 

“He’s just a genuine and happy guy who makes learning the language fun,” said freshman Leul Tekilemariam, Piedmont student. 

“I think he really makes learning the language fun for all the students, and he’s understanding of the unintentional ignorance some students may have with Spanish culture, but learning from him intrigues us to get connected with the culture,” said Cameron Earls, a sophomore at Piedmont College. 

Out of class Bowers hopes to translate his love of Spanish to his students. Bowers says he “loves to see people gain interest in the culture and language of Spanish-speaking countries. (and) really enjoys seeing people get excited about the language.”

“My greatest reward is being able to interact with the students and see them grow academically and personally… and I want them to know that they are truly appreciated and an important part of Piedmont College. 

Zachary Moore: Greek Life is Life Changing

As one of the newest additions to the Student Affairs Department at Piedmont, Zachary Moore has introduced Greek Life to the students of Piedmont and intends to expand on this fraternity/sorority experience.

“Our mission is to empower members through diverse learning experiences to achieve academic excellence, engage with local and global communities, and cultivate leadership while fostering those lifelong relationships,” Moore said. “Greek Life is a life changer. It really does mean a bond with your organization and I know that if I ever need anything or anything is going on in my life that I have my fraternity brothers to lean on and help me out.”

In his senior year of college, Moore’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and his fraternity surprised him by helping him out with a philanthropy event. Although he planned the event by himself, Moore was thankful for the donations and support his brothers gave to him during this time.

Moore wasn’t always interested in Greek life. “At first I didn’t want to join a Greek organization because I didn’t drink, and I still don’t drink or party,” he said.

During his undergraduate orientation at Austin Peay State University, a young Moore came across the fraternity called Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) and he said. “The two people that were there were just very casual and welcoming,” he said. Moore ended up getting invited to an interview, but it actually wasn’t an interview and instead the fraternity surprised him and gave him a bid to join. Moore ended up graduating with a bachelor of science in communication.

Moore attended Ball State University in Indiana for graduate school, finishing with a master of arts in student affairs administration in higher education. When looking for a job Moore missed the southern culture and hoped to return to his roots. Moore found Piedmont to be the perfect fit and feels lucky to have found this job.

“I am really fortunate to have hit my three favorite components of student affairs with orientation, Greek Life, and student activities,” he said.

Will Sargent a sophomore sports communication major who works with Moore as a member of the fraternity said, Moore has been a tremendous help to the program.

“I think his position with the school is really beneficial to Greek Life here. Whether he is helping us with administration, planning out events, or whatever problem arises he is always very eager to help out in whatever way he can.”

Kobhe Macias a sophomore applied health science major who works with Moore on the Campus Activities Board (CAB) said, Moore is there for students, even when it’s not a work-related matter.

“Zac is a great person,” he said. “He is the type of person you can go to when you’re dealing with things and need guidance.”

Moore plans on creating a foundation where everyone on campus will find Greek life fresh and shy away from the stereotypical movie credentials.

“I want to see the organizations truly make a difference on the individual members and as well as leave an impact on campus.”