When I was a small boy, my grandmother told me, “With an education you can do what you want, and without it you will do what you are told.” Sadly, she died when I was only six years old. But, I have never forgotten her words. Over the years, I have encountered many educators who also realize that the most effective vaccine for societal oppression is education. Joe Fall, associate professor of the hospitality business department at Walter State Community College ’s Sevier County Campus has dedicated his profession to rescuing the futures of hard working people searching for professional independence.
Born August 29, 1964, in Schenectady , NY , Joseph Patrick Fall entered the world as the youngest of his educated parent’s three sons, all devout Red Sox fans. An excellent athlete and football lettermen, Joe graduated from Linton High School in 1982. Studying human resources management at his hometown community college led him to a 15 week internship at Disney World where he learned much about how the monolithic company operates and markets itself. His first real experience away from home, the exercise had a maturing effect.
Once back in New York , young Fall began a long career in the hotel business when he was hired to be a desk clerk by Marriott Corporation. Within a year, he was promoted to front desk manager and a few months later he was promoted once more. This time he was again sent south to become the reservations manager of the Miami Marriott. Before long, he was a property manager, as the 1990’s afforded him every opportunity to learn and practice all aspects of hotel operations with several different properties across the southeast.
However, in time, Joe found himself experiencing the need to share all that he had learned and like his father, decided to become a teacher. So, he attended Georgia Southern University to complete his bachelor’s degree in family consumer sciences in 1997. Then he went on to earn his teaching credentials from Central Michigan in 1999.Fall came to East Tennessee when his wife Lisa accepted a position to teach public relations at the University of Tennessee . Joe soon learned that Walter State was interviewing for someone to lead their fledgling hospitality business department and was chosen as the man for the job in the summer of 2000.
There, students earn an associates degree in applied science, emphasizing hotel/restaurant management and culinary arts. Thirteen of the twenty classes are common among the 100 plus students currently in his department.
Since Joe Fall’s arrival, his influence on our hospitality/tourism driven economy has been invaluable. He is a great source of knowledge and inspiration to all who enlist his advice. The students and graduates, produced by his department are beginning to make their presence felt in shaping the future of an industry desperately needing to lead our community out of the last and into the next century. In a place where there are far more jobs than there are workers to fill them, surprisingly wages in our industry continue to remain low. Consequently, the employees of the few companies that do offer health care benefits find the cost to be out of reach of their earnings. As a result, hard working families find little generational advancement and seem to be locked out of sharing in the tremendous growth in our area’s tourism over the past two decades.
Fall and many others who study and have studied this problem find education to be the short and long term answer to solving this anomaly. So, this year, two new buildings will be added to the Sevier County Campus, expanding upon the culinary arts and professional entertainment programs, which were developed to support the county's tourism industry. This past fall, over 1,300 students enrolled at the beautifully useful campus. My beloved grandmother’s words resonate here more than anywhere I have ever been and are worh repating. “With an education you can do what you want, and without it you will do what you are told.”
Henry Piarrot is a hotel manager in Sevier County,TN. Please send all story recommendations to email@example.com