Explore the beating heart of Northeast Texas Community College’s main campus.
By Doc Anderson, Skylar Fondren
At every college, there is a place where most students gather. Either to study, do homework, research, or just hang out with friends.
At Northeast Texas Community College, that is the Learning Commons, which includes the Charlie and Helen Hampton Library, which contains the library.
The library has study pods, a computer lab, and activity tables with puzzles and chess.
The library’s open plan makes it accessible to students to find resources on the library database online or use physical copy books in the library.
Under this same roof you’ll also find a coffee shop, a 3D printer, the largest collection of Caddo Native American artifacts in the United States, and a mural and artwork by Dr. John Biggers.
In 2011, Margret Hinton donated 400 pieces of Caddo Native American artifacts to NTCC making it the Caddo collection in the U.S. The artifacts date as far back as 700 AD and as recently as 1600 AD. All were found in Northeast Texas.
John McCullough, Vice President in charge of Advancement, said the value of the artifacts rings in at just over 500K.
The collection consists of elaborately decorated jars and vessels along with intact arrowheads and axes. Due to the sheer size of the collection, only a fraction of it is displayed at one time.
NTCC Librarian,Heather Shaw, applied for and received the Whatley enhancement grant allowing her to purchase a kiosk and digitize the images of the Caddo collection.
Thanks to a Whatley grant, the kiosk allows students to view the collection in its entirety.
Read more about the Texas Caddo culture here
Jo’s Coffee Shop
Since 2017, the NTCC branch of Jo’s Coffee shop has provided homemade beverages and food with a focus on coffee.
Located at the front of the Learning Commons, Jo’s is pretty hard to miss. Jo’s is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and have pre-made breakfast and lunch options. The food is brought in from their downtown location, but the coffee is made on-site.
Baley O’Neal, manager of the NTCC location, says that their most purchased drink is the Iced Honey Bear.
In addition to their permanent drink options, they carry seasonal drinks such as “The Bloomer” available this spring.
One incentive for customers is the punchcard, where students can receive a free drink after their tenth punch. Before 8:30 a.m., customers can get double punches on their cards. As a part of the learning commons, students can take full advantage of getting their caffeine fix before cramming for an exam.
Above, a short clip of the initial installation of the Biggers Mural in 2017. The mural is located in The Biggers Room of the Learning Commons.
Of all these things, there is something unique about NTCC’s learning commons that stands out above the rest: The mural by Dr. John Biggers.
The 22-feet long by 6-feet tall mural was painted by Dr. Biggers in 1955 as part of a commission by Frank C. Bean then superintendent of the Pewitt school in Moris County. The painting was a project to honor Prof. Phineas Y. Gray, the principal of the newly completed George Washington Carver High School, the first African-American high school in Morris County.
After the painting was completed, it was displayed for several years in what was once Carver High School, the segregated African American school located between Naples and Omaha, Texas. However, after being on display for several years the mural was stashed away during renovations at the time. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the mural was rediscovered.
Once it was discovered, the mural was placed in the Pewitt library, before it finally made its way to the NTCC Learning Commons in 2017. The mural was loaned to the college for a minimum of 20 years and will be returned to the original school after the time has elapsed.
The mural is divided into four sections and depicts the struggles that African Americans faced in the early 20th century while trying to obtain an education.
Skylar Hodson, Yante Castro, Ian Griffin, Abigail Bernard, Elizabeth Del Carmen, Dulce Soza, Jacquelin Terrell, and Sharon Zambrano contributed to this article.