TTU volunteers organize, provide workshops at The Academy at Bonnaroo

Several Tennessee Tech University instructors, staff members and students are among a group of volunteers who are taking “summer school with a twist” to this week’s Bonnaroo music and arts festival in Manchester, Tenn.

TTU English instructor Andy Smith has collaborated with festival organizers on a feature called The Academy to provide a schedule of workshop topics offering a blend of arts and awareness, and several other TTU representatives have signed on to lead some of those workshops.

With more than 80,000 people — many of whom are between the ages of 18 and 25 — expected to attend the four-day festival, which runs June 12-15, Smith says the event offers an excellent opportunity to interact with young adults outside of a formal classroom setting.

“My mission as a teacher is service to students, both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “Bonnaroo is the top-shelf music and arts festival in North America — it’s the rock ‘n’ roll Superbowl — and it’s held right in our backyard. That makes it a wonderful resource for interacting with college students from across the country.”

Smith — who is jokingly being called ‘Dean of The Academy’ by other TTU volunteers — has compiled a workshop schedule that ranges from light-hearted learning to serious academics.

Participants will learn about topics that range from creating shadow puppets to interactive discussions about sustainable food and energy sources.

Other TTU volunteers include theater director Mark H. Creter and alumnus Matt Bassett presenting acting workshops, administrator Cale Koester presenting percussion workshops, and Craft Center students Ben Hailey and Laurel Smith presenting food and art workshops respectively.

“Festivals like Bonnaroo thrive on participation and collaboration, and what I love about our role is that we will be offering our specific skills to help other people become a part of what makes the festival unique, instead of just consuming it,” he continued.

At the same time, the efforts of Smith and other campus volunteers showcase some of the characteristics that also make TTU unique.