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TSU partners with Apple Inc. to offer alumni free app design course

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Technology giant Apple, Inc. has partnered with Tennessee State University to give minorities and underserved communities greater access to the field. TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences. That expansion includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free. Computer Applications for Educational Leaders is being offered through the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and is accepting applications now.

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Thanks to Apple, Inc., Tennessee State University has extended its ability to provide underserved communities with access to the field of technology. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University Newsroom)

By TSU Newsroom

NASHVILLE – Technology giant Apple, Inc. has partnered with Tennessee State University to give minorities and underserved communities greater access to the field. TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences.

That expansion includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free. Computer Applications for Educational Leaders is being offered through the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and is accepting applications now.

The course supports the university’s mission to provide life-long learning opportunities to the TSU alumni.

“This course is the first of its kind to address an individual’s working and learning style where they can take the course on-ground, online, hybrid or at the Apple Store,” said Dr. Robbie K. Melton, Tennessee State University’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and program director for the coding initiative.

Dr. Melton also says the curriculum is structured to provide onsite instruction for groups of 10 or more wherever they are located.

That scheduling flexibility is what attracted Dr. Jeffery Norfleet, associate dean of Academic Services at Trevecca Nazarene University.

“I like to learn virtually because it just works with my time and my schedule,” said Norfleet, who received his undergraduate degree from TSU in Humanities in 2008 and his master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in educational technology in 2010.

“There are apps out their for everyone. Apps out there that will help you with your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual journey,” he said. “We may not be coding experts as far as the ‘IT’ side is concerned, but from your basic line of work and employment, you can utilize this skill set to benefit the community in which you live.”

Norfleet, a Clarksville-native who served as saxophone section leader with the Aristocrat of Bands while at TSU, said he believes efforts like this one will strengthen the university’s relationship with its alumni.

“I think this will begin to open up doors where students can see that they may have walked away with one major or one type of master’s, but the resources that the school wants to pour back into them will give them the opportunity to continue to develop their professional skill set as well as their personal skill set,” he said.

“It also encourages them to give back to the university, because these opportunities don’t come free at most places.”

Sheron B. Doss, who secured a bachelors degree in Social Welfare from TSU in 1976, is proving you’re never too old to learn, and said courses like this one are important for seniors.

“At our age, we assume we are too old to learn, but why shouldn’t we learn now,” said Doss, who was recently accepted into the doctoral program for Administration Management in Pre-K and Higher Education at TSU.

“We are living longer, and we have got to be there rather than depend on our children and grandchildren. It makes communicating and living so much easier.”

Melton said the HBCU C2 initiative puts TSU on the forefront of embracing STEM, and she credits the university’s partnership with Apple with being key to its success. She said TSU employees as well as Tennessee high school students are also eligible to take the free course.

“Apple provides an approach to introduce coding and creativity in a nonthreatening manner,” she said. “You have children coding. You have seniors coding, and the fact that we have over 200 people from high school to senior citizen centers wanting to code and create is phenomenal.”

The push comes on the heels of the university’s July launch of HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create”, a national initiative supported by Apple, Inc., which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities.

“Apple is encouraging us to offer more academies because of the result from the academy this summer in which five of the apps that were designed are now being tested on campuses,” said Melton.

“We got a call from the Department of Labor because they received word from other constituents about the excitement, not just in Tennessee, but throughout all HBCUs regarding our transformation attitude regarding STEM careers,” she added.

Doss, who found out about the class during registration, said she took Melton’s Microcomputer Technology in Primary and Elementary Schools course in 2017. She encourages all alums to take advantage of the free learning opportunity.

“I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what level or what age, just start,” she said. “Just look at it, and I guarantee you that something in the course during the duration of the class will make you happy, will make you glad, and if you are like me, it will excite you.”

TSU hosted the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy July 14-19 through its newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations. Leaders of 14 historically black colleges and universities – including Tennessee State – from across the country came away from the Academy with knowledge and skills in coding and app development from Apple’s comprehensive coding curriculum, which utilizes its popular Swift programming language.

For more information about enrolling in EDAD 6100: Computer Applications for Educational Leaders course, contact Deborah Chisom at dchisom@tnstate.edu or call (615) 963-7390.

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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IN MEMORIAM: Cheryl Hickmon: National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Dies

NNPA NEWSWIRE — THE BURTON WIRE — Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows, in part: “It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

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Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority.

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

The nation is mourning the passing of Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority. Hickmon was elected president of the organization dedicated to sisterhood, scholarship and service  November 21, 2021 at the 55th national convention held in Atlanta, GA.

Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows:

“It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

President Hickmon was a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta since 1982 and served in various capacities at the chapter, region, and national level before being elected National President. She is remembered not only for her role as a leader but for being a colleague, friend, and most of all, sister.

The entire sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated mourns the loss of President Hickmon. During this difficult time, we ask that you respect her family’s privacy and keep them in your prayers.”

In addition to serving as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Cheryl was employed at Montefiore’s Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health in Hartsdale, NY where she supervised the In Vitro Fertilization Laboratories for Andrology and Endocrinology. A licensed Clinical Laboratory Technologist, Hickmon worked in the Reproductive Medical Laboratory for more than 30 years.
Members and supporters have been offering remembrances and calling for prayers in response to Hickmon’s death. Florida representative Val Demings,  who is a member of the sorority, shared her thoughts via Twitter:
Organizations including the NAACP and fellow Black Greek Letter Organizations like Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Kappa Alpha have issued statements about Hickmon’s passing.

Cheryl Hickmon is the daughter of the late Dr. Ned Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Bishopville, South Carolina and the late Consuella Anderson Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Cincinnati, Ohio. She is survived by her two older brothers Ned and David Hickmon.

Hickmon’s bio reads, “Cheryl lives her life by the motto … ‘Don’t measure life by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.’” She was 60.

This obituary was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 

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Parents Raise the Alarm About Violence in Schools, Say Their Votes Depends on Improvement

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.

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NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.
About 52 percent said student mental health after coping with the pandemic is a significant issue, as well.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A new poll revealed that parents continue to express “legitimate concerns” about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources.

Alarmingly, the poll released by the National Parents Union found that 59 percent of parents are very or extremely concerned about how schools are teaching race and diversity.

“Many Black parents are worried that schools are being harsher on students of color compared to white students,” researchers noted in the poll.

The National Parents Union counts as a network of parent organizations and grassroots activists committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the United States.

Conducted from November 19 to November 23, the survey included 1,233 parents who also count as registered voters.

Researchers found that 84 percent of parents are concerned about how schools address the threat of violence, and 59 percent identified increased bullying or violence in school as a significant issue.

About 52 percent said student mental health after coping with the pandemic is a significant issue, as well.

“Parents have very legitimate concerns about violence in schools, increased bullying, and a lack of mental health resources,” Keri Rodrigues, co-founder, and President of the National Parents Union, said in a statement.

“Now, it is incumbent on schools to do something about these issues, especially given the federal funds available. It’s not rocket science. Rather than repaint a football field, first, make sure that there are enough counselors to help students cope with mental health issues,” Rodrigues asserted.

The poll also asked the parents who responded that they were concerned about the threat of violence, which worries them the most.

The top three most pressing concerns remain:

  • 44 percent: schools not having enough counselors, psychologists, or social workers to work with students
  • 42 percent: schools not having resources to keep weapons out of schools
  • 39 percent: schools not having school resource officers or police accessible on campus
  • 59 percent of parents are extremely or very concerned about how schools are teaching about race and diversity; Among Black parents, 69 percent share this sentiment, which drops slightly to 67 percent among Hispanic parents.

Of the overall number of parents who are at least somewhat concerned (79 percent):

  • 48 percent say what concerns them the most is schools are not teaching accurate information about the issue of race.
  • 42 percent are most concerned about schools pushing a progressive agenda onto students
  • 56 percent of GOP parents who are concerned say this is their top concern
  • 32 percent are most concerned that schools aren’t focused on the issue enough
  • 46 percent of Black parents who are concerned say this is their top concern
  • 78 percent of parents are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of Black parents who said they are concerned about how schools are handling disciplinary issues are worried that schools are harsher on students of color compared to white students
  • 38 percent of parents trust Democrats to do a better job of handling education; 31 percent trust Republicans; 14 percent trust both equally; 11 percent trust neither

Among parents who identify as Independents, 28 percent trust Republicans and 20 percent trust Democrats.

“These findings underscore the importance of the very thing we have been imploring school leaders across the country to do – listen to the parents in your community,” Rodrigues stated.

“It also reinforces the need for those running for office to take the concerns of parents very seriously or risk losing elections.”

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COMMENTARY: Telling Our Family Stories Keeps Black History Alive

We grew up hearing family stories about life in the Carolinas from our parents and grandparents. My sister, Gwen Fortune-Blakely, has written her first children’s book, Rex and the Band, inspired by one of our favorite stories our grandma used to tell about my dad, Dr. Rex Fortune, who is now a retired public school superintendent.

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Dr. Margaret Fortune, Fortune School, University of Southern California (USC), football, USC marching band, marching bands, drumline, public charter school, Rex and Margaret Fortune Early College High School, family stories, life in the Carolinas, parents, grandparents, Gwen Fortune-Blakely, children’s book, Rex and the Band, grandma, Dr. Rex Fortune, retired public school superintendent, little Rex, spirited young boy, high-energy marching band, North Carolina A&T football games, sister’s beautifully illustrated book, Telling our family stories, African Americans, history, Griots, storytellers, grandparents, ancestors, passed on, Black press, clearinghouse, many stories, Black community, Ebony Jr., elementary school student, high school, Sacramento Observer newspaper, Cocoa Kids Books, engaging, authentic, uplifting, inspiring
Dr. Margaret Fortune is the president/CEO of Fortune School, a system of nine, K-12 public charter schools with over 2,300 students focused on closing the Black achievement gap by preparing students for college.

Let’s Talk Black Education

By Dr. Margaret Fortune, President/CEO Fortune School

When we were kids, my dad would take us to football games at the University of Southern California (USC). I didn’t care much for football, but I loved it when we’d stay after the game to hear the USC marching band play. His love for marching bands is why we have a drumline at the public charter school I founded and named after my parents — Rex and Margaret Fortune Early College High School.

We grew up hearing family stories about life in the Carolinas from our parents and grandparents. My sister, Gwen Fortune-Blakely, has written her first children’s book, Rex and the Band, inspired by one of ourfavorite stories our grandma used to tell about my dad, Dr. Rex Fortune, who is now a retired public school superintendent.

As the story goes, one day back in 1947, my grandma sent little Rex to the corner store to get some eggs so she could bake a cake. My dad bought the eggs and put them in his pockets. On the walk home, he encountered a marching band high-steppin’ down the dusty road to his mother’s house. Little Rex got so excited that he followed the band, beating on his legs like drums all the way home and, yes, breaking all the eggs.

“Rex and the Band” explores a day in the life of Rex, a spirited young boy who dreams of one day playing in a high-energy marching band like the ones he enjoys watching with his father during North Carolina A&T football games.

Reading my sister’s beautifully illustrated book, I cried tears of joy. Telling our family stories is such an important way for African Americans to keep our history alive. Griots, or storytellers, are the reason why we know the truths that we do know about our family history and ancestors.

I believe all of us can think back to when our grandparents would tell us stories about our ancestors who may have passed on before we were born. It was their way of making sure our stories were not only told but preserved.

The Black press has been the clearinghouse for many stories that have impacted the Black community over time. My sister published her first poem in Ebony Jr. as an elementary school student and then in high school she interned at the Sacramento Observer newspaper.

Gwen founded Cocoa Kids Books to publish books like “Rex and the Band” that encourage Black children to dream, aspire for more, and soar because they see themselves reflected in stories that are engaging, authentic, uplifting, and inspiring. I’m so proud of my big sis! You can buy Gwen’s book at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/rex-and-the-band.

Dr. Margaret Fortune is the president/CEO of Fortune School, a system of nine, K-12 public charter schools with over 2,300 students focused on closing the Black achievement gap by preparing students for college.

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