Gilliam to lead trades and tech at The Crown College

Sandra ClarkFeature, Powell

Dr. Janice Gilliam is the new vice president of trades and technology at The Crown College of the Bible. The Powell-based Christian college expects to expand its technical offerings including renovation of existing facilities to accommodate students and staff.

The college is affiliated with Temple Baptist Church, with both located on W. Beaver Creek Drive. Dr. Clarence Sexton is senior pastor of the church and president/founder of the college.

Gilliam comes via a circuitous path. Trained in cosmetology, her early career was as a hair stylist. She is a lifelong learner and quickly trained in cosmetology instruction. After a stint as a teacher and a couple of post-graduate degrees at WCU and NC State, she became a campus administrator and, in 2009, was named president of Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tenn. She retired in June 2017 with 36 years of experience in teaching and leading community colleges.

“We have great programs (at The Crown College) but want to take them to the next level.” Current technical offerings are cosmetology, HVAC technology, and auto/diesel mechanics. Welding technology (diploma and associate of applied science degree) has been approved for fall 2018. Evening schedules will be added upon demand. The school has joined the NC3 network, the national coalition of certification centers, which offers industry-driven curriculum to standardize expectations and training in technical programs for aviation, transportation and energy. Cosmetology will be integrating Pivot Point, an internationally known program, this fall.

It’s a simple notion: Students trained on the exact equipment they will encounter in the workplace will have an edge in getting that first job.

Dr. Clarence Sexton

And Dr. Sexton says The Crown graduates will have an edge in keeping that job and advancing. Speaking in April at a business forum, Sexton pushed for donations to fund scholarships. “We are telling no young person they cannot come here if they qualify.”

The scholarships are privately funded, though, because The Crown College takes no federal funds. “We don’t take their money and we don’t do their bidding,” Sexton said.

The college has an ambitious goal of 2,019 active supporters in 2019. This summer, Crown will operate camps (in Powell, Texas and England) for over 5,000 young people, along with a singing tour and various mission trips abroad. He said construction will start “any day” on the new technology building.

Dr. Gilliam expanded on the vision in an interview: “Some of our faculty are in training now. … We’ll offer (nationally recognized) certifications across-the-board – a competency-based curriculum. We’ll bring in a skilled panel and ask them what they do on the job every day.” The focus will be on student performance of skills identified by the panels, not just written tests of knowledge.

Starting this fall, all students must take computer class, and Gilliam said they get “soft skills” through the Foundation Bible courses. “We’ll identify what students need and set up rubrics to measure competency in every aspect.

“We feel it’s important to have quality Christian education – to connect our work with God’s work … and keep our focus on our mission. … We help each student be a great Christian and a great employee. Our students come from across the United States and six foreign countries. Many take both ministry and trades programs.”

Gilliam smiled when asked about Gov. Bill Haslam’s TN Achieves program which guarantees free community college tuition to high school grads who are citizens. “It’s hard to compete with free,” she said, but a Bible-based college provides students a unique experience. She points to a framed Lord’s Prayer on her wall. “I couldn’t have done that in my previous jobs.”

Gilliam has three grown children. She and her husband bought a home in Knoxville and attend Temple Baptist Church. She’s obviously a hard-charger who says, “You never know what tomorrow will bring. You just have to be ready.”

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