Skip to main content
A1 A1
Work-Based Learning places Hawkins students in internships aligned with their career goals

As you may have read in the last column, we have lots to be excited about in Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the upcoming year.

One thing I am particularly thrilled about is the growth we are seeing in student internships.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) is similar to what many of us would recall as Co-Op programs where a student is able to leave school early to report to work.

The main difference between the old Co-Op and new WBL is that we are now trying to purposefully place students in internships that are aligned with their long term career goals rather than just any part-time job.

For instance, a student who is interested in working in the criminal justice field might be placed with a local attorney for an internship. For obvious reasons that experience is far more valuable to a student.

The growth we are seeing is not by chance, but rather is the result of a strategic approach to expanding this type of opportunity and training. Specifically, it is the result of two targeted actions carried out over the past two years.

First, all CTE teachers have completed professional development and training on WBL. Additionally, CTE teachers and staff have honed in on identifying potential internship opportunities. As a result, students from each and every CTE program of study are able to participate in internships aligned with the CTE coursework they have completed.

That prospect is exciting; however, progress typically requires some give and take, and this progress is no different. In this case, the “take” is that as more students leave campus to participate in WBL internships, the time needed to keep required paperwork updated and to check in on student progress increases. That reality led to the creation of the second part of this strategy.

Beginning in August we decided to pilot an idea that would allow an instructor to spend a portion of the school day focusing on managing WBL.

With some creativity on the part of scheduling, we were able to allow Adrian Smith, engineering instructor at Volunteer High School, to spend a portion of his work day completing WBL intakes, student check-ins, and recruitment.

In the first semester of implementation we have already seen a significant increase in WBL participation among Volunteer High School students. Since August Mr. Smith has already been able to assist 12 students secure internships (not including students completing clinical rotations in Nursing Education courses).

That number will soon be closer to 17 as a few new internship agreements are finalized in the next week or so.

To put that into perspective, at this time last year there were 3 Volunteer High students completing WBL internships. I think we can safely say that is a significant improvement.

As a result of Mr. Smith’s efforts we have also added new partnerships with 8 local businesses and industries, and I know he has a few more currently in the works.

These internships often carry the possibility of changing the career trajectory for a student in a positive way. It is not uncommon for a student to complete an internship and be offered a full time job as a result.

It is also not uncommon for those students who move on to advanced training following their internship to identify that experience as some of the most valuable time they spent in high school. Take a look back at the recent articles that highlighted Hawkins County Schools graduates Cooper Bolton and Kobe Brummitt to read more on that.

Just think about this for a moment — if this type of experience is so powerful for our students, how significant is an increase from 3-17 opportunities? I would say it is huge. One thing is for sure, for every Cooper or Kobe, it is without question significant to that student.

That is why those of us working with students to secure WBL are so excited about these opportunities. That is why we are so proud of the growth we have seen and the growth that is just over the horizon. Finally, that is why continuing to expand WBL is still one of our top priorities in Hawkins County CTE.

Mr. Smith has done a great job with this experiment and I believe it has conclusively proven exponential growth in an area so vital to our students’ future is possible even in a short span of time.

Based on the results we have seen at Volunteer, I can assure you our push to expand WBL will continue without pause. Specifically we will be working daily to figure out how to do the same at Cherokee and Clinch.

Again, we are blessed to have a very strong CTE staff in Hawkins County. I can brag on these professionals for as long as anyone is willing to listen. I am proud of the work they are doing, and honored to share in those labors.

I am thankful for educators like Mr. Smith, and so many of his colleagues, who go the extra mile every day to move the needle for our students!

Oh Henry’s? Oh yeah!: Remembering old times over some good home cooking at Oh Henry's

Well this intrepid roving reporter had to scramble to get my column done by deadline as my original idea fell through.

So I tried Candy at Mountain Star but she wasn’t prepared because her Christmas merchandise was still on display and she said Glen never cleans.

At least he makes good cider as I can attest it’s delicious. Tossed around a few ideas with him in the book nook at Mountain Star and headed across the street to Oh Henry’s Restaurant.

The girls welcomed me when I explained the situation and let me take some pictures. There were some handsome gentleman in the large dining area having lunch so I chatted with them but they said no names just pics lest they might be incriminated .

No problem because Danny Henry is just down the street at Alternative Judicial Services and is a probation officer as well as owner of O’Henry’s.

I chatted with David Henry manager of O’Henry’s who said he had been there over half his life. Not much of a talker himself he directed me to Danny who is a friend of mine on Facebook.

We talked over old times with him reminding me that O’Henry’s is located where the Burger Bar used to be. And the Windex popcorn Miss Miller had at the Roxy we both remembered and had a good laugh.

Danny said the restaurant opened in March of 1991 (the year I moved to Saudi Arabia) and has been operating continuously in this location since it was purchased by Jean Henry from Charles Trent who moved to Lexington Kentucky. Always consistently doing business family style with all the kids at some point working there.

Mom Jean always had Christmas breakfast at the restaurant traditionally until she passed but hired Joni Adams as a waitress before she did. Interestingly, she worked at the Burger Bar running it for years.

Glen Hobbs added a few stories but I figured I better leave them out of my column. Danny told a few as well that best remain unwritten for the time being. But he fondly remembered his mom saying she was the glue that held the place together and it’s still sticking years later.

Danny said, ”Our first customer when we opened was Scott Fields. He worked at the Rogersville Water Department. He got eggs, country ham, and biscuits with gravy. He and Debbie still eat supper with us about every night.”

He added, ”During the years we were the venue for several Republican events and had several notable politicians including Congressman Jimmy Quillen, Senator Fred Thompson, Senator Bill Frist, Governor Don Sundquist , and Senator Lamar Alexander.”

After my visit I posted pictures online and Robin Norville Pearson said.”You are at one of my breakfast spots. Oh Henry’s.” To which Ralph Hankey replied,”Yes. they have absolutely awesome breakfast! Great prices also.” I said,”My ex boyfriend always got the egg sandwich and I had the BLT when we used to go before art class when Christine Fore was my art teacher. Apparently Ralph loved the BLT’s too because he said they were slamming but Robin isn’t playing around she gets the rib eye steak and egg whites.

Everyone seems to agree that Cordell is the employee of the year including himself. Ralph told me he’s been in a couple of times and this guy right here who waited on me is awesome. Lisa Russell Way said,”He is my favorite waiter.” Well he’s also my choice so it’s unanimous.

The Original Neanderthal was spotted at O’Henry’s enjoying a burger and a club sandwich saying support your community and small businesses.

They are a small startup business offering themed merchandise online at

Also online social media with a Facebook page and blog the original and have a podcast available on Spotify and AnchorFM Links available on Facebook page also on Instagram and Twitter and Gettr They promote the values that made our country great and encourage others to pursue excellence in all they do.

Also a couple of family friends were there Bob Stapleton and Mary Cook from Stanley Valley. She dated my uncle Hobart Ferrell who was an avid Burger Bar fan.

While I was at the restaurant Amanda Pearson was behind the counter cooking and Misty Graves and Joni Adams were waitressing. Later I went back after shift change and Cordell Henry who is turning 19 years old next week and won the best waiter in the Rogersville Review was waiting tables while 17 year old Macy Henry was cooking and she loves it.

Danny gave me a list of all the kids. Ricky, Debbie, Danny, David, and Darren. Dad — Bug Henry who all worked alongside mom Jean. The grandchildren Joseph and Joshua who are Rick’s boys. Rebecca Jones and Sarah Kenner Deb’s girls.

Cordell and Macy David’s kids. Rick’s wife Lydia and David’s wife Kristy both worked in the restaurant. 3 of the great grandchildren Joseph’s daughter Savannah and Joshua’s 2 boys Damian, Hunter and his daughter Brandy too.

It has truly been a family business over the years and hopefully will continue with another generation.

Oh Henry’s is located at 201 East Main Street in Rogersville. Good old fashioned home cooking. Dine in or carry out from pinto beans to an 8oz Sirloin steak cooked to order. Try some desserts such as apple, peach, and strawberry cobbler. Chocolate, lemon, coconut, pecan, and key lime pies. Also grilled honey buns with ice cream.

Eastman named one of America’s 'Most Just Companies' by JUST Capital, CNBC

KINGSPORT – JUST Capital, along with its media partner CNBC released the annual JUST 100 this past week, recognizing Eastman for its commitment to address key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues Americans care about most through its ongoing engagement with employees, customers, communities, the environment, and shareholders.

The JUST 100 is the only ranking that honors companies doing right by all their stakeholders as defined by the American public.

Through vigorous, objective analysis, JUST Capital, in partnership with CNBC, evaluates and celebrates U.S. corporations that outperform on the issues that matter most to the American public – such as creating jobs in the U.S., paying a fair, living wage, prioritizing accountability to all stakeholders, protecting worker health and safety, providing benefits and work-life balance, cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace, producing sustainable products, and protecting customer privacy.

Eastman’s ESG priorities align with the company’s strategy to position itself as a leading material innovation company, prioritizing its top innovation platforms to address the triple challenge of climate, circularity, and caring for people and society. In 2020, Eastman announced aggressive 2030 sustainability goals, which include but aren’t limited to:

• Reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2030 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

• Recycling 250 million pounds of plastic waste annually by 2025 and ~500 million by 2030 through the company’s molecular recycling technologies.

• Achieving gender parity in alignment with the company’s commitment to Paradigm for Parity and being an industry leader for racial equity.

“We are deeply honored to be recognized as one of America’s Most JUST Companies and to be named alongside so many notable and reputable companies,” said Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa. “It’s very gratifying to know that the issues that matter most to Americans are the same as those that matter most to us at Eastman. Throughout the company, we recognize the responsibility we have to all of our stakeholders – employees, customers, communities, investors – and we take that responsibility very seriously. This recognition reflects our culture, our values, and our talented team of people who strive to fulfill our purpose of enhancing the quality of life in a material way.”

For the annual rankings, JUST collects and analyzes corporate data to evaluate the 1,000 largest public U.S. companies across 20 stakeholder-focused issues as identified through the most comprehensive ongoing public opinion research on Americans’ attitudes toward responsible corporate behavior, engaging more than 150,000 participants since 2015.

“We’ve entered a new era of accountability where employees, customers, and investors want to understand if companies are not just talking the talk but walking the walk to drive change on the critical issues of our time,” said Martin Whittaker, CEO of JUST Capital. “The companies featured in the 2022 JUST 100 are demonstrating that purpose and profits can go hand in hand by delivering value to all stakeholders, including shareholders.”

“I am proud of the work our teams are doing to develop new product innovations that advance solutions for society’s most pressing needs; increasing transparency; attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce; and promoting a welcoming, inclusive culture for all team members. Add to those the commitment by our Board of Directors and executive leadership to continue our track record of strong corporate governance, and I am confident we are positioning Eastman to thrive for years to come,” added Costa.

A comprehensive interactive ranking and benchmarking platform is available at

12 Reasons Why Your Cell Phone Signal is Getting Worse

Seems like on a daily basis I ask myself the question, “If they can communicate with men on the moon, why can’t I get a consistently good cell phone signal to make a call to someone even in the same town?”

It’s frustrating. Signals breaking up at best, dropped calls at worst. When a strong and steady signal is the basis of our communications and in some cases the basis of our jobs, all of that suffers when we face connectivity issues.

Connectivity issues can occur for numerous reasons, some of which you might have never thought would be a problem. Here are some of the most common reasons as an answer to a question: “Why is my cell phone service getting worse?,” and some tips to remedy them.

1. Your phone. All phones have different antennas. That doesn’t mean that each following model of the phone has a better one than before.

For example, you have probably seen old phones, or those of you who are dinosaurs like me, actually had phones that had an antenna sticking out of it. Those were great at catching the signal, as the antenna was physically was outside of the phone and had an advantage.

Modern phones hide their antennas within their frame, and in some cases, that can hinder the reception. You may remember back when iPhones first came out the issue they were having with the antenna being inside the phone itself.

Remedy tip — Make sure you upgrade your phone to a better model or research the phone you are about to purchase on the quality of their antenna reception. If you live in a remote area that can be a real issue, so make your choice wisely.

2. Device cover. As just mentioned, the antenna in modern phones is built in the phone for design reasons but sometimes that comes at the cost of functionality.

So what can interfere with cell phone signal? Covers, especially elaborate and rigid ones, physically become a barrier for the antenna to catch the signal.

Remedy tip — Try removing the cover of your phone completely or placing a lighter version of the cover. See if you experience somewhat improvement of the signal.

3. Operating system. Periodically, the two main giants when it comes to operating systems, Apple and Google, put out an update of their current OS with improvements. Or at least it “should” be improvements. However, sometimes that’s not the case. Some of the newer versions have more bugs.

Remedy tip — Some of the old versions of phones may not be compatible with modern technologies, which is why you need to make sure that your phone’s OS is always up to date, no matter which year your phone was produced. Also install all the necessary updates.

4. Too many apps. When you have too many apps installed, your phone runs out of breathing room, so to speak, and prioritizes your apps over other functions, one of which can be the antenna and signal allocation. It takes a lot out of your phone to constantly look for the signal if it’s weak to begin with, and you are only adding to it by installing every app you think you might need.

Remedy tip — Clean up your phone once in a while and delete all the apps that you haven’t used recently. Adopt a rule. If you haven’t used an app for the past 3 months – it has to go!

5. Low Battery. Another thing that can drastically lower your connectivity and be the reason for a bad cell phone reception in your house or any other area is the fact that your battery is running out. When the battery is running low your phone changes to a battery saving mode, which significantly reduces its capability of reception as it’s now focused on keeping the phone alive to avoid the battery to completely drain.

In this case, antenna strength is not going to be high in its priority list, and if you turn off the power saving mode it will drain the battery much quicker.

Remedy tip — In order to avoid your phone operating under extreme circumstances and to allow it to work on its full capacity keep your phone charged, or if running low and no access to electricity around keep a charged power bank at hand.

6. Rush hour. There is such a thing as a “signal rush hour.” During that time, many people are using the same network at the same time. This can drastically reduce your signal strength, as each person using their phone bites a little off the network leaving less for the others.

We have all surely experienced such problems in concerts, for example, or any other huge gatherings of people when you can’t really make a call let alone send a message.

Remedy tip — In order to avoid signal loss in a rush hour, try to move your essential communication to a different hour. Surely mornings and evenings can be very busy times, but afternoons are rather calm as most people are at work, school, or busy with their daily tasks.

7. Service provider. The signal issue could be associated with your service provider. Maybe they don’t have enough cell towers in your area, or maybe their towers are not powerful enough to serve your particular region.

Remedy tip — Well, this one is easy, right? All you have to do is change your service provider. But what if you don’t want to make that transition, you paid for a plan, or you are still paying off your phone? Or some other reason makes it cheaper.

Well, there is a great way you can improve cell reception in your house and office. Install a cell signal booster. It’s a small but very efficient device that will turn your weak signal into full strength. There are many types and lots of universal ones that support multiple providers, network types and users, giving you absolute freedom of choosing your provider.

8. Distance from the cell tower. It’s fairly obvious that your signal depends on the distance that you are from the cell tower. The further you are, the harder it is for your phone to catch the signal.

Remedy tip — Again the solution lies in mobile signal boosters, unless of course you don’t mind relocating to a better reception area.

9. Over-crowded cell tower. We have established that being far away from the tower can interfere with the signal, as well being too near it can. It could be a case where there are too many people in the area that connect to the same tower. Just as much with the “signal rush hour” point that we made before, the over-crowded cell towers have the same effect. Too many people use it, meaning that less signal is available to each one of them.

Remedy tip — You can always try to connect to a different cell tower in your area in case you have one. This is another reason for changing your provider if you are constantly experiencing this issue and are typically near the crowded tower. However, a lasting and long-term solution would be to invest in a signal booster.

10. Building material. Excessive metal, as is in the case of the building I work in daily, concrete and wiring used in the building can significantly reduce your signal strength or simply not let the signal penetrate the building altogether.

Remedy tip — In case you are building the house yourself, try to use less metal and concrete and more natural materials like wood, where possible, combined with open floor plans indoors.

However, if you have no say in the construction materials, or you are simply renting, invest in a mobile booster. Not to be repetitive, but this solution really works and works well. It is worthwhile looking into if you are tired of your weak reception.

11. Bad weather. Bad weather can significantly weaken your signal because your signal travels in waves and severe weather conditions disrupt the paths of those waves, weakening the signal in the process.

Remedy tip — There is nothing you can really do about bad weather, unfortunately. There is no place on the planet that has perfect weather.

12. Hills and valleys. Just like building materials can stop or slow the waves from cell towers, mountains and hills can also. If you are located in the valley surrounded by the mountains, you are most certainly going to experience signal troubles especially if your provider doesn’t have a lot of towers in the area.

Remedy tip – Unless you want to move or wait for your provider to construct new towers, it may be time to consider a signal booster.