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Motlow art prof paints for adult education

Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Staff photos by John Coffelt -- Tullahoma artist Ann Smotherman, above, has created cards for the Literacy Council. This year’s works include “Christmas Eve,” below left, and “Words on the Page.”

By John Coffelt, Staff Writer

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the paintings donated by Tullahoma artist are worth a lifetime of them.

For the past four years, Motlow State Community College art history professor and accomplished artist Ann Smotherman has donated her talents to help raise money for the adult education by painting Christmas Cards for the area Literacy Council.

Money from the cards go to help pay for GED exam fees for qualified Adult Education students.

The Literacy Council is a non-profit volunteer advisory council that works with the Tullahoma/Coffee County Adult Education program.

According to Literacy Promotion Co-Chair Dot Watson, in Coffee County 9,000 adults don’t have a high school diploma or GED.

She said that the council spends about $5,000 a year on GED exams.

“People are not aware that there is such a need,” she said.

Watson said that the program benefits the community as well as the individual recipients.

“When they complete their GED they stand to earn about $9,000 more per year, which in turn helps the local economy because they have more spendable income to spend on things they haven’t been able to afford before.”

The local Adult Education program prepares participants who have not finished school prepare to take the GED.

Watson said that adult education receives federal funds through the Department of Labor and not the Department of Education.

She adds that funding has been repeatedly cut.

“We were going to have to close the Manchester site, but what we decided to do was to underwrite the cost of that so that students wouldn’t have to travel to [Tullahoma],” she said.

“We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Adult Education program whereby we underwrite the cost of the Manchester site to pay the teachers salaries and benefits.”

In Manchester, Coffee County Schools oversees the classes.

The primary job of the council is to raise money to fund the educational programs.

To that end, the counsel approached Smotherman to do the cards four years ago.

“It is truly is a wonderful cause,” she said. “This is a cause in which you can really make a difference.”

Smotherman’s cards are sold in packages of eight for $10. Printed on them is information about the artist and the Literacy program.

The cards are in high demand. Watson said that last year one version of the cards had to be reordered three times.

Smotherman, an instructor at Motlow for over 20 years, features books in each of the card paintings.

This year’s paintings are “The Words on the Page,” featuring a Victorian scene, and “Christmas Eve,” illustrating a decorated yuletide hearth.

The director of Motlow’s library, Brad Walker discussed Smotherman’s works in May during a show held there.

“We have loved having Ann’s show at the library,” he told the school’s paper, “Her paintings are absolutely beautiful.”

She said that painting the pictures is very rewarding.

The cards will be available the Friday after Thanksgiving at a Tullahoma Fine Arts Center event or directly from the Literacy Council by contacting 454-2638 or emailing

The council also raises fund with the new Friends of Literacy program.

Before a large event with high-dollar sponsorships was held.

Now for a donation of $25, individuals can become a Friend of Literacy. Higher sponsorships are available.

“In tough economic times, we did not want to ask businesses to sponsor us or to donate items for an auction.”

Eligibility for Adult Education

To be eligibile for enrollment in Adult Education, applicants must be 17 year old, not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under State law, lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the individuals to function effectively in society, do not have a secondary school diploma, have not achieved an equivalent level of education or be unable to read, write, or speak English.

To register for the Adult Education program in Manchester, call 723-3045.