Partners for Education at Berea College


Posted on by Charlie Foster

Fifty-five students from Garrard and Rockcastle counties traveled to Berea College Thursday to take part in the Berea College CFES Scholar Leadership Summit.  The eighth-graders received training on leadership qualities, what it takes to achieve their goals and what they can do to empower others to succeed.  The event was a collaboration between Berea College’s GEAR UP Partnership, Garrard and Rockcastle county schools and College for Every Student (CFES), a national organization that works to help every student it serves attend and succeed in college.

WritingStudent groups began their training by defining leadership themselves.  Using brightly colored markers on large sheets of paper, participants brainstormed and then presented their ideas to the group.  Ideas like bravery, choices and being an example made it onto the papers, which were posted up on the wall for all the groups to see.  When all the groups’ concepts were put together, they showed just how deep and complex leadership could be.

“We had a fun day,” said Caroline Coguer, 14, from Rockcastle Middle School. “We were able to learn things that we may not have been able to learn just sitting in the classroom about leadership and how to become a leader in the community and not just be another knot on the log and actually stand out.”

PosterJordan Griffin, 14, from Garrard County Middle School said he felt like he was joining a bigger team.  “We found other people from different schools who are doing the same things as us,” he said.  “We learned all kinds of service lessons, like things we should do in our community and how to help our community.”  He said he was encouraged by the group effort.  “Even if you do fail, at least you tried.”

Linda Stone, GEAR UP Service Coordinator for Garrard and Rockcastle counties, says that this is the first meeting of the groups, but certainly not the last.  “These students will see each other a lot over the next four years,” Stone said.  They will continue to meet both at their school during club day, but also at regional events like the one Thursday.  When they come together as a region, the students will be ambassadors from their school. “Our idea is, they’ll take back the three core practices of CFES: college pathways, mentoring and leadership through service.”

The Leadership Summit is especially effective at encouraging mentoring and leadership through service.  “We know that peer mentoring and the posse mentality is much more effective at getting kids to college,” Stone said.  “If their best friend is going to college, then they’re going to college.”

“So if we can create an environment where all of the students have the same goal and the same vision and are on the same path, they’re much more likely to continue on and complete school.”

For more information about GEAR UP, CFES or the Scholar Leadership program in Garrard County, contact Angie Fielder at (859) 792-2108 or  For more information in Rockcastle County, contact Cayci Mahaffey at (606) 256-2622 or


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