HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - The new executive director of the Hindman Settlement School has some big ideas for improving educational opportunities in the mountains.
Lawrence County native Brent Hutchinson took over in October after longtime director Mike Mullins died unexpectedly eight months earlier.
"He really rejuvenated and gave new life to the settlement school when he started back in the late 1970s," Hutchinson said of Mullins.
On the banks of Troublesome Creek in Knott County, The Hindman Settlement School has been serving eastern Kentucky since 1902.
The school provides education for dyslexic students, holds writing and music seminars and fosters Appalachian heritage preservation.
"We've always tried to be on the progressive end of things that are going on in this area," Hutchinson said. "We try to provide opportunities for people that nobody else is providing."
Expanding those opportunities is something Hutchinson has his eye on. He wants to keep in line with Mullins' legacy while also implementing his own vision.
One of the areas he is focusing on is teaching local students in the face of unfunded state mandates on education.
"All the schools are being required to do things that they have no funding to do," Hutchinson said. "And perhaps that's something we can come in and assist them with."
Hutchinson, whose twin brother Brian is the athletic director at Morehead State University, wants the Settlement School to help diversify eastern Kentucky's workforce.
"There's no question that the coal industry here has been critical for many, many years, but we have people who have skills working in the coal mines who aren't able to find jobs," Hutchinson said. "I think that the settlement school has an opportunity to help re-train workers. We have a lot of unique opportunities through local partnerships to help train folks in some sort of craftsmanship."