Tag Archives: First Presbyterian Church

Annual Activities Report, or There is a Lot to this Higher Education Stuff

1 Jun

Teaching in higher education is a great job. I get to talk about history and, hopefully, fill the minds of students with information that they need to know. It is great to have a student come up after class and ask a question. It is great when they show interest in what we are talking about. There is great satisfaction in being a teacher.History Teacher

However, higher education is about more than teaching. We are expected to serve the university as members of various committees. We are expected to take part in scholarly activities outside of the classroom. We are expected to serve the surrounding community.

At the end of each academic year, we turn in an Annual Activities Report to our dean. It is a way for the administration to know that we are doing our jobs. I just finished my report and realized that it has been a very busy year.

In the Fall of 2013, I taught four classes and one directed study. Three of the classes were surveys over the first part of American history, and one was the history of Latin America. Enrolled in those courses, were 132 students. I also taught four classes in the Spring of 2014. Three were surveys over the second part of American history, and one was the Expansion of the United States, my specialty. Those classes had 118 students. In addition, I was an advisor to 18 students in the Fall and 12 students in the Spring.

In October of 2013, I attended the conference of the Western History Association in Tucson, Arizona. It was an awesome experience. I was also able to raise $15,000 for faculty development.

Did I mention committees? During this academic year, I have served on the Faculty Senate, the GEC (General Education Core) Committee, the Athletic Committee and the Athletic Compliance Committee. Those last two are part of my duties as Faculty Athletic Representative.

As Faculty Athletic Representative, I have also attended meetings of G-MAC, the conference that we are moving into. That is part of our move to Division II of the NCAA. There are several sports on campus, and I have been to games of  baseball, soccer, softball and football.

Oh yeah, I am also the Pi Gamma Mu sponsor, which is the national honor society for the Social Sciences. We also have Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for History.

It seems as if there is always something to do on campus, but there are also plenty of things going on around town. I have spoken to the members of the First Presbyterian Church and been interviewed by three of Nashville’s television stations. Also, I have been interviewed by The Nashville Business Journal, The Tennessean, The Lebanon Democrat and The Wilson Post. I also wrote an article for Lebanon Living magazine.

Community service? There is a lot there, as well. I am a member of the board of directors for the James E. Ward Agriculture and Community Center, Fiddler’s Grove Historic Village and the Buchanan Historic Home. I am also on the Lebanon Regional Planning Commission and am a member of the Rotary Club.

When I entered higher education, I knew that I would be teaching history. This other stuff came as a surprise. The other surprise? I like doing all of this stuff.

You Never Know What You are Going to Learn at the First Presbyterian Church

7 May

This past Saturday, I had the honor of speaking at the Men’s Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church. We had a great meal, and I hope that I taught them some local history. As it turns out, I learned quite a bit of history from them.

After my presentation, I mentioned that this was my first time in the church. That meant that I got a tour from Dr. Bone, whose family has deep roots in our community.

He said that the church was built in 1910 and was built in an architectural design that came out of Ohio. The stain glass windows chronicle different stories in the Bible and were donated by prominent citizens of the time. Their names are part of the design. And, who designed them? Tiffany. Yes, it was a church filled with the town’s wealthiest citizens.First Presbyterian

He told me about the prominent members who have attended through the years and showed off the pipe organ. It was all very cool, but it was not as cool as the last story that Dr. Bone told me.

After college, Dr. Bone took a trip around the world. He found himself walking through the streets of a city in India when he heard an explosion in the distance. He kept walking but heard another explosion. This time, he decided to investigate.

As the came upon the scene, Dr. Bone saw that they were filming a movie. He saw some people sitting in chairs and watching the action. Most were locals, but there was a lady in a huge hat sitting on the end.

Dr. Bone made his way over to the lady and asked what was going on. She explained the scene to him and admitted that she had written the screenplay. After a few minutes, she asked him where he was from. Of course, he replied that he was from Tennessee.

With this knowledge, she lit up and said that her brother taught English at a university in Tennessee. It was Cumberland University (where I work). This time, Dr. Bone lit up. That is where he went to school, and her brother was his English teacher.

That is when she finally introduced herself.

“My name is Pearl Sydenstricker, but you probably know me better as Pearl Buck.”

Now, this is a story with a lot of moving parts. Local boy travels around the world; happens upon a movie being filmed in India; meets the screenwriter; finds out that her brother is Dr. Sydenstricker; and then finds out that he is talking to Pearl Buck.

That is one of the coolest stories I have ever heard. However, this is what I really could not believe. Pearl Buck’s brother taught English at Cumberland University, and I do not think many people know that. At least, I have never heard it, and I have heard a bunch of stories about the history of our university.

It goes to show that you never know what you will learn at the First Presbyterian Church.