Partners for Education at Berea College

    Perry County Summer Camp on WYMT


    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Two Jackson County daycares received children’s books donations from Berea College’s Promise Neighborhood Initiative on May 2.  Each daycare received 50 books that are considered important for children to read before kindergarten.


      The first stop on the delivery route was Val’s Daycare, run by Valorie Gabbard.  “Promise Neighborhood has brought me 50 books, and I appreciate it, and they will be used,” she said.  “I love reading to my children that I keep, and it’s good for them, so I’m excited.”

      The other delivery went to Pat’s Daycare, where Patricia Cox looked on as the children crowded around the box and pulled out books about subjects that ranged from dinosaurs, to farm animals to a steam shovel.  “They all love to be read to,” she said.  “And they all sit and pretend to read books.”

      PatsDaycareWEBTonya Huff, the Promise Neighborhood Academic Specialist for McKee Elementary, said that reading is key to a child’s development.  “Reading is very important, especially being read to at that early of an age, because it helps their communication skills, which helps in their language development.”

      Huff also shared a message for parents who want to learn more about the 50 books children should read before kindergarten.  “If parents are interested in starting to read the 50 books with their children, they should know where they are accessible,” she said.  In addition to donating sets of the books to the daycares, Promise Neighborhood donated sets to libraries and reading programs.  “Anyone in Jackson County can check them out at the Jackson County Public Library,” she said.  “And any school-aged kids or preschool kids can get them through Early Steps to School Success, through Save the Children, or the schools’ libraries.”

      The Promise Neighborhood is a partnership between Berea College and Clay, Jackson and Owsley counties that is designed to help every young person travel from cradle to career through an educational pipeline supported by family and community.  To find out more about the Promise Neighborhood, visit


    • Posted on by Charlie Foster
    • Students from Garrard Middle School traveled to Berea Monday to visit the Berea College Educational Farm.  The trip was part of the partnership between Berea College’s GEAR UP program and Garrard County Schools.  The seventh-graders toured the farm, learning about the hands-on way in which some college students study real world subjects like agriculture, animal husbandry and business.


      College_Farm_Sign_WEB“Today we are visiting an agriculture farm in Berea and we are learning about the processes of it and how students can get involved with it,” said Bailey Wright, of GMS.  “I’m kind of interested in agriculture because my parents have a history of working on farms and selling tractors, so I’m kind of doing a little research for myself,” she said.

      Bob Harned, Berea College’s Educational Farm Manager, said that even though these students are years away from attending college, there is much to learn from a trip to a campus.  “Whether they’re middle-schoolers or high-schoolers, the big picture here is to encourage them to further their education in some form or fashion.”  Of course, Harned hopes the students liked what they saw on the farm.  “We want to inform these prospective college students that there is a lot more opportunity here than cows and plows.”  But he also knows that one subject can often spark an interest in another, and any motivation to excel in education makes the trip worthwhile.  “They might say, ‘Maybe I’m kind of interested in agriculture or a related science, so when I hit high school, I need the math and science course that will prepare me to go on to maybe Berea College or somewhere else.’”


      Wright agrees that seventh-graders should be visiting college campuses and learning more.  “It’s important to be thinking about colleges early in the seventh-grade, because it helps you get a feel for what you want,” she said.  “I can get ready for college by preparing myself by researching, making good grades and taking these trips to gain more information.”

      Braxton Allen, Wright’s classmate, has already seen the value of a GEAR UP trip, as well as the program’s other activities in his school.  “GEAR UP helps get us prepared for college by bringing us to field trips like this,” he said.  “And they also helped us get the EXPLORE test early in seventh grade instead of eighth, and I scored the highest in my grade that year.”

      For more information about GEAR UP in Garrard County, contact Angie Fielder at (859) 792-2108 or


    • 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


    Clark-Moores Middle School Cultural Night

    • Posted on by Victoria Fleury
    • UKFamilyCountries from around the world filled the gym at Clark-Moores Middle School on the evening of March 5 for the school’s Cultural Night.  Faculty, students and their families from CMMS, along with some students from Berea College, arrived early to set up booths that represented their home countries.  Japan, Korea, Kenya, Iraq and Ireland were among the 15 countries represented.

      The night began with Mexican and Chinese food served in the school’s cafeteria.  Outside was a table full of desserts, like rice pudding from India, a form of donuts called Mandazi from Kenya, sushi from Japan, banana bread from Guatemala, scones from England, trifle from Finland and Costa Rican smoothies.


      At any time during the event, family members could sign up for items in the Silent DessertsAuction.  PeaceCraft, a shop selling Fair Trade merchandise from around the developing world, provided many of the items in the Silent Auction.  Participants wrote their names and how much they would be willing to pay for an item they liked on the auction sheet. Whoever would be willing to pay the most for an item could buy it at the end of the night.  All proceeds from the Silent Auction and the dessert table went to the Prince of Peace Home for Girls in San Cristobal, Guatemala.

      After dinner, CMMS students and family members performed dances in front of the cafeteria, beginning with a choreographed routine to the song “Waka Waka (Time for Africa).”  Contra dancers followed this show, clapping and spinning to traditional Appalachian music.  Young cloggers between the ages of two and seven then danced to the Dancingpopular song “Gangnam Style.”  Older and more experienced cloggers continued the show, dancing to the song “Party Rock Anthem.”

      Between 6:30 and 7p.m., a bellydancing group called “Jewels of the Nile,” gave lessons in the cafeteria.  Heather Green, one of the group members, explained that “Bellydance comes from Middle Eastern Dance and it’s a tradition that’s thousands of years old. It’s a way for females of the society to get together, let their hair down and just relax and have a good time with each other.”  The group then offered lessons for tribal style bellydancing. “Tribal bellydance is a lot more technical.  You’re actually focusing on the moves, and in other forms of bellydance you focus on the moves too, but with tribal it’s a lot less actual aerobic movement and it’s more stationary, isolating one part of your body and doing something with that,” said Jasmine Rutherford, another member of the group and a 4th-grade teacher.Mohammed

      Between dances, students were encouraged to explore the 15 booths in the gym that represented different countries.  Students got their “Passport” packets signed by country representatives once they felt the student had learned enough about their country to earn the signature.  If a student had a signature from every booth they were entered for a chance to win a prize.  “The kids were very interested,” said Solomon Tesfamichael, a Berea College sophomore who was in charge of the booth that represented Eritrea, a country from East Africa.  “I showed them the animals and culture, and I asked them about geographical locations like ‘Where is Africa?’ The atmosphere of that event was excellent.”

      KidSwingSome students were not excited to visit every country, as Mohammad Jaber, another Berea College sophomore, discovered.  He was in charge of the booth that represented Iraq, and many students who approached him only knew about the war.  He used this opportunity to teach about Iraq’s culture and history, but one talk with an eight-year-old girl stood out among the others.  “I asked her, ‘Do you want to know anything about Iraq today?’ She said, ‘No, I know everything about Iraq.’  In the beginning she kind of refused to listen,” Jaber said.  “Her brother worked in the military and told her all the bad stuff about the war and the death.”  Jaber asked for two minutes of her time so he could show her more about Iraq.  The two minutes turned into five or six.  “I’m happy that she wanted to listen and she did, because I was able to change her mind.”  At the end, this little girl got her Passport signed by Jaber and, like many other students, walked away with a fuller understanding of another country.

      The Cultural Night ended with a bang, literally, as students lined up for their turn to hit a Piñata.   Afterwards, the students gathered their candy, crafts, and any items bought in the Silent Auction and headed home with a new appreciation for other cultures.


    • Posted on by Latrice Williams
    • Reality-Store-PosterBerea Community Middle School eighth-graders got a lesson in growing up on March 5 when they participated in “The Reality Store” in their school’s gymnasium. The activity challenged each student to pay bills using a salary chosen at random. The experience helped the students learn about the financial obligations they could face as they become adults. Eighth-graders were presented with financial options and resources they could have as they chose certain career paths based on their education level and tried to raise a family. Berea College’s GEAR UP Partnership, Madison County businesses and youth leadership programs helped coordinate the event.

      According to eighth-grader Daniel Jacobs, students gained a sense of the financial future they could face in adulthood. “I like the fact that we were presented with this financial reality at a young age to better prepare us for the future.”

      DSC_0041There were several contributors that made the Reality Store a reality. The Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky River Foothills Youth Investment Project, Madison County financial businesses such as Central Bank and Berea College’s GEAR UP Partnership all had a hand in the event. Nadia Karkenny, GEAR UP College Preparation Assistant said, “As adults, some people waste a lot of money because they don’t know how to save. This Reality Store is a great financial resource that gives these students guidance.”

      The bank booth was the students’ first stop. There they picked up a pamphlet that explained that they were now 28-years-old, married and needed to provide for a family with between one and six children. Each student was then given a randomly assigned grade point average. The GPAs corresponded to jobs on the Reality Store chart, with higher GPAs leading to higher paying jobs. Each job gave the student a monthly income, after taxes. The income then went into the student’s checking account.

      Balancing their checkbooks was key to managing their finances, as the students spent their money. The eighth-graders’ goals were to provide for needs first, wants second and spend less than they earned.

      If the students got stuck or had any questions, they could visit the financial coach booth. The financial coach would look at their income and expenses and explain some choices they could make to complete their day successfully.

      DSC_0014The chance booth allowed the students to get out of debt by picking from a glass bowl full of colorful slips of paper that represented extra money. Some of the extra money was in the form of lottery winnings, a raise at work or insurance money gained from a car accident.

      Other booths focused on housing and utilities, health and car insurance, paying for groceries, putting children in childcare, buying clothes for the family and paying for communication devices such as cell phones and internet service.

      The rewards table gave students recognition for improving their financial literacy. One treat was a Dum Dum candy with a sign attached that read, “Congratulations, you are not a Financial Dum Dum.”

      DSC_0037Facilitators of the event realized it had a big influence on the eighth-graders when the students began to form their own opinions about the importance of making smart financial choices. Charlotte Haycraft, Berea Community Middle School GEAR UP Academic Specialist, said, “I did not see the impact of these booths until I saw the choices the students were making. The students began to understand how their financial choices, career paths, and education levels could affect a marriage and family. Overall, I thought this event was very impactful.”



    Promise Neighborhood Artist Shares Appalachian Culture and Tradition with Hacker Elementary Students

    • Posted on by Latrice Williams
    • Carla Gover was excited to work for three Fridays: Feb. 8th, Feb. 15th, and Feb. 22nd from 8:00am until 2:00 pm with K-6students at Hacker Elementary to teach them about Appalachian culture and tradition.carla-gover-portrait

      Gover is an artist with the Berea College Promise Neighborhood Initiative. A Kentucky-native, singer, songwriter, and dancer, she travels the United States and takes pride in sharing her Appalachian culture with others. Gover has performed for literally thousands of elementary, middle and high school students worldwide. She credits her passion and knowledge to both her family and local communities in Clay and Letcher counties. “Every child here at Hacker (K-6th) was born in the Appalachian region, says Academic Specialist of Hacker Elementary Christy Napier.”

      In order to tie in with Hacker Elementary core standards and program review curriculum, her objective was to help students look at some of the different cultures that came together to create the Appalachian culture and help students positively define what it means to be from KY.“I seek to be a voice speaking of the beauty and dignity of Appalachian culture in a world filled with stereotypes, half-truths, and outright lies about what it means to be from the region, says Gover.

      Gover enjoyed her three-day adventure with the students because she loved teaching them about Appalachian culture through verbal stories, song, and dance. Ms. Grover sang traditional ballads and songs while playing the banjo or guitar, and explained the history of the instruments and the dances that were created with them.

      The students happily got on their feet and participated in some engaging Appalachian dances that included: Appalachian clogging/Flatfooting, Cherokee Dance of the Four Directions, African-American Hamboning Rhythms, and the Traditional KY Square Dance.

      Sixth grader Holly Couch said, “I really liked it. I learned what clogging is and a lot of new traditional songs and dances from KY. I really enjoyed her singing too.”  During this event students learned a lot about their Appalachian culture and how important it is to keep their heritage alive. Clara Gover is coming back to work in two other schools in Clay County in the near future.

    Berea Community Middle School Students Prepare for Future at College and Career-Readiness Fair

    • Posted on by Latrice Williams
    • Speakers from all over Richmond and Berea visited Berea Community Middle School eighth-graders to talk about college and career-readiness on February 15.  They spoke about how succeeding in school now can prepare students for college and ultimately their careers.

      Academic and career dreaming began in the morning, as part of the career portion of the College and Career Readiness Fair. Speakers gave the middle school students informative talks, describing a day in their lives, their careers and what it takes to get there.

      Kentucky State Trooper Toby Coyle answered questions the students had about his career and demonstrated how a taser works, which fascinated students. Lindsay Bruner, a vegan marketing specialist, helped students create nutritional green smoothies using pineapples and spinach. Bruner also explained the importance of being healthy and talked about her career path. Madison County EMS and Physical Therapist Lorah Shackleford demonstrated how a defibrillator works by electric shock.  She then took students through a typical day in her career.

      In the afternoon, college-readiness sessions were held in ten classrooms where speakers focused on how students can get into certain careers. Students were divided into rooms by their career interests, and learned what they need to do in the classroom to prepare for their dream career.

      Thirty students who wanted to become college athletes met a quarterback for the EKU football team, Jared McClain, and the midfielder for the EKU soccer team, Tess Akgunduz. “I am doing everything I can now to get onto a professional team,” said McClain. “But in case that doesn’t happen, I am working hard in the classroom to ensure that I will get a degree and a good job.”

      Another room was all about volunteering, as Heather Schill from Berea College’s Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) office spoke to thirty-five students about why volunteering is important to be a good citizen. Charlotte Haycraft, GEAR UP Academic Specialist at Berea Community School and coordinator of College and Career Readiness Day, agreed.  “Volunteering is one of our focuses here at Berea Community School.”

      Seth Henderson, graduate of Berea Community School and a first-generation college student, explained that making good grades in middle and high school opened college opportunities. Henderson admitted that he was not a very strong student in middle school, but he learned what it takes to be successful. He explained his process to students and answered their questions about achieving success for themselves.

      Henderson’s talk was titled, If Someone Had Told Me in Middle School.” He wished people in middle school told him that, “regardless of who you are, don’t think because of financial circumstances you can’t go to college.”

      Haycraft moved from room to room, watching her students learn from the presenters.  “These ten rooms are trying to inform us and get us college-ready,” she said. “To me, this is the most important part of the day.  Too often we have career days and students leave thinking, ‘I could never get that career.’  What is happening in these ten rooms is offering them hope, and a reality of how they can achieve what they saw.”


    Clark-Moores Students Connect with Their Community

    • Posted on by Victoria Fleury
    • Volunteers from organizations around Richmond traveled to Clark-Moores Middle School on the morning of Friday, January 11 for Community Service Day.  The volunteers shared with students their experiences, goals, and helpful advice.  The students had been busy all week preparing for the event, learning how they can help their community by dressing in professional attire like khaki pants, tucked in t-shirts and belts and visiting local nursing homes. They also participated in a food drive by collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House.


      When the event began, students were split into groups to talk to each volunteer.  Periodically, an announcement to switch classrooms rang through the speakers, signaling for students to move on to activities like making crafts for a cause, packing boxes full of essentials for the needy, cleaning the school bleachers, or learning the history of well-known groups like the American Red Cross.

      “I felt like it was a very positive activity for our students,” said Stacy Brockman, GEAR UP Academic Specialist at Clark-Moores and coordinator of the event.  “They were really engaged and learned about charitable organizations in our community, state and the world.”

      Before the event, students also decorated hearts for 26 Acts of Kindness, a movement that honors the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  The students wrote on each heart an act of kindness they witnessed or performed. The best hearts were chosen to be part of the 26 hung on the wall for Community Service Day.


      The event was sponsored by Berea College’s GEAR UP partnership.  Berea College and 19 school districts from southeastern Kentucky work together to ensure that every student becomes college and career ready.

      Organizations that participated in Community Service Day included the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Richmond Fire Department’s Toys for Kids program, the Humane Society, the Ty Lucas Foundation, Hope’s Wings, Grace Now, Habitat for Humanity, Prince of Peace Orphanage in Guatemala and the Pregnancy Help Center.

      The event allowed students at Clark-Moores Middle School to engage in community service and learn how to continue to do so in the future. “The feedback from our students has been exciting,” Brockman said.

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