EXL News

MTSU students offer kids, elders some Good Friday 'egg-citement'

April 14, 2014

Stephanie Bush 

Instructor Stephanie Bush

Some MTSU students will try to make Good Friday an even better Friday for some local youngsters and their elders.

The 26 students of Stephanie Bush's Aging Health and Development Class will host an Easter egg hunt at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 18, at Stones River Manor, a senior living community at 205 Haynes Drive in Murfreesboro.

Read the full MTSU News story here.


Terri Tharp

EXL Grant Extends the Impact of Family Literacy Nights

March 7, 2014

READ4015 is a six hour course designed to introduce teacher candidates in the Elementary & Special Education licensure programs to the concepts of language and literacy. An integral component of the course is field experiences in elementary and middle schools, and this includes a concerted effort to introduce teacher candidates to the school community at large through participating in Family Literacy Nights.

Family Literacy Nights provide an avenue for the Elementary & Special Education Department to furnish support for the public schools in the areas of literacy education and family involvement. Faculty members plan and coordinate with the principals and/or literacy coaches to choose a featured book (or books) and address the specific literacy needs (phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, etc.) of their children and families. Then, under the supervision of the faculty members, MTSU teacher candidates organize, plan, and lead literacy activities which incorporate math, art, music, social studies, etc. and relate to the featured book(s). The families receive a copy of the feature book(s) for them to keep and enjoy at home as well as any materials from the activities.

In addition to fostering the importance and enjoyment of reading, these events allow the local schools to support and build community with their children's families. It is a great opportunity for the university to serve and build connections with the families and the local schools as well.

Over the past several years, READ4015 instructors have been very fortunate to partner with Read to Succeed to offer programs in both Murfreesboro City Schools and Rutherford County Schools. In fall 2012, we received a MTSU Public Service Grant which enabled the department to expand the program to five additional schools in the Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City School systems. Evaluations conducted by the school administrators, families, MTSU faculty members, and teacher candidates to assess the effectiveness of the programs have been conducted, and results are positive. Families say they enjoy the program, learn a variety of techniques to promote reading at home, and enjoy having time to share a meal and engage in activities with their children. Teacher candidates report there is improvement in their abilities to interact with family members, to plan and implement literacy activities, to model strategies, and to engage families and children in literacy learning. This program also affords teacher candidates the opportunity to work with mentors in the public schools. In addition, it is the faculty members' hope that by completing this service-learning project in local schools that the teacher candidates will begin to see that they have a responsibility to serve and give back to their community and will also be a part of planning Family Literacy Nights once they enter the teaching profession. Classroom teachers enjoy participating in the program without having to plan and implement the activities, and school personnel emphasize the importance of interacting with families in a positive setting.

Unfortunately, Read to Succeed, one of our most valuable partners, only serves Rutherford County leaving a gap in providing opportunities for off-campus family literacy programs. Middle Tennessee State University's service area includes counties where our 2+2 Interdisciplinary Studies K-6 program is offered, and there was a real need to extend Family Literacy Nights to counties such as Maury County and Bedford County. It was decided to apply for an EXL grant which would allow the department to extend the Family Literacy Nights to other counties. In fall 2013, we were awarded an EXL grant to extend the Family Literacy Nights to additional counties in our service area to benefit those communities as well as to provide the same field experience opportunities for our 2+2 teacher candidates.

Because of the awarded EXL grant, READ4015-005 was able to partner with Marvin Wright Elementary in Maury County this semester to host a Family Literacy Night on March 6, 2014. It was a huge success with 235 students attending along with their family members. It is our hope, that with sustained support, we will be able to continue to offer Family Literacy Nights to advocate the importance of reading in all of our service counties and to support the collaboration between the university and school systems in MTSU's service area.

Group photo



To learn more about Family Literacy Nights, please contact:

Dr. Terri J. Tharp
Elementary & Special Education Dept.
P.O. Box 69, COE 393
Middle Tennessee State University

Download a PDF of this article.


 Nonprofit Summit at MTSUNon Profit Summit

The MTSU Nonprofit & Social Innovation Student Summit will be held on April 4th, 2014 at the Jones College of Business.  The event is hosted by Jones College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts.  We encourage all students who have interest in the Nonprofit sector to attend.


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Lori Kissinger Accepts Big Check

MTSU students help win a Twitter contest

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — In the EXL ORCO 3250 class, the students are learning about fund raising. Their instructor, Lori Kissinger, thought it would be a good experience for them to participate in the newest form of fund raising which is happening through social media. The students worked on a twitter campaign for VSA Tennessee through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and they went up against over 400 nonprofits in middle Tennessee. The group won the competition!

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EXL program, Rust honored at national higher ed conference


Middle Tennessee State University received two top awards at this year's Association of Continuing Higher Education conference in Lexington, Ky.

The university's Experiential Learning Scholars Program received one of two ACHE Distinguished Program Awards for Credit Programs while associate professor Dianna Rust received the ACHE Meritorious Service Award.

Read more or Download a PDF

Carol Swayze Wins Award

Carol Swayze, center, director of the Experiential Learning (EXL) Program at Middle Tennessee State University, receives the Distinguished Program Award for Credit Programs at the 2013 annual conference and meeting of the Association for Continuing Higher Education Inc. held in Lexington, Ky., in early November. Pictured with Swayze are ACHE President David Grebel, left, and Mary Bonhomme, chair of the ACHE awards committee.

Dianna Rust

Dianna Rust, center, associate professor in University Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, receives the Meritorious Service Award at the 2013 annual conference and meeting of the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) held in Lexington, Ky., in early November. Rust is also program coordinator of the Bachelor of University Studies major as well as the online bachelor's degree program. Pictured with Rust are ACHE President David Grebel, left, and Mary Bonhomme, chair of the ACHE awards committee.


MTSU students pitch civility proposals to Nissan


FRANKLIN, Tenn. — On this day, they weren't students; they were consultants. They weren't classmates; they were competitors.

Two student teams in MTSU professor Jackie Gilbert's Principles of Management-Experiential Learning class squared off this semester — not in an MTSU classroom, but in the very real-world environment of the Nissan Americas headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. Read more

MTSU EXL program receives prestigious regional award

APRIL 24, 2013

Carol Swayze

SANDESTIN, FL. — Carol Swayze, EXL Program Director at Middle Tennessee State University, receives the Outstanding Credit Program Award from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) South Outstanding Credit Program in recognition of the excellent nature and results of the Experiential Learning Program.  Also in the photo are Amy Johnson, ACHE South Regional President and David Grebel, ACHE President.  We extend our congratulations to Carol for her excellent work with this program.

MTSU Students to Create Media for Tenn. Foreign Language Institute

MARCH 25, 2013

MURFREESBORO, TENN. — MTSU students enrolled in Dr. Clare Bratten's Seminar in Media Issues class are creating a media campaign for the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute's (TFLI) ESL to Go program. Read more

Students 'take a stand' against bullying at work, school, online


Students in Dr. Jackie Gilbert's Principles of Management class at MTSU are taking a stand against bullying, whether in social settings on campus, in the free-for-all interactions of cyberspace or inside corporate offices. Read more

EXL Scholars Program touted as 'excellent model'


Service learning.

MTSU is positioning itself as a model university in this area with its Experiential Learning Scholars Program, or EXL, which was recently commended by a regional accrediting organization for its impact and effectiveness after five years of existence. Read more

Austin and McPhee

Dr. Jill Austin, left, a professor of management and marketing at MTSU, accepts thanks at a recent reception from university President Sidney A. McPhee for her dedication to the Experiential Learning Program. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)


MTSU Students Make Huge Impact on Local Community

In 2011-2012

  • 4,144 Students Participated in Community Projects
  • 197,828 Hours Spent on Community Activities
  • 3,512 Projects Completed
  • $1,582,624 Value of Contributions to the Community