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EQT grant will help eastern Ky. schools

PIKEVILLE – Members of the Pike County Board of Education, the Pike County Government, the University of Kentucky and the EQT Corporation were on hand Wednesday, Dec. 12, when EQT presented a check for $50,000 to the University of Kentucky College of Education.

The funding will be matched by a James Graham Brown Foundation Grant that helped establish the P20 Lab’s Next Generation Leadership Academy.

The P20 Innovation Lab is an incubator for identifying, implementing and evaluating ways to redesign and rethink current policies, practices and programs to support 21st century learners.

The grant money will be used to provide innovative technology in eastern Kentucky Schools. Pike, Letcher, Knott, Floyd and Perry county school districts, along with Jenkins Independent, will participate in the Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab’s Next Generation Leadership Academy, which is in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s College of Education.

“It’s nice to see the University of Kentucky look east,” Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford told those in attendance. “EQT is a great community partner and have been since they got to Pike County. Its foundation has contributed to countless programs and projects, and few, if any, are more important than this one. It only makes sense that UK implement this program in coal producing counties since every public university receives coal severance tax generated right here.”

Rutherford also commended former University of Kentucky President Dr. Lee Todd for his involvement in steering EQT to Pike County and ensuring that UK has a presence in eastern Kentucky.

The Dean of UK’s College of Education, Mary John O’Hair, gave an overview of the Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab and outlined several other projects UK is working on with school districts statewide, but focused on P20 and eastern Kentucky.

“Kentucky superintendents and principals taking part in the P20 Lab’s Next Generation Leadership Academy discover ways to improve education for students growing up with knowledge, technology and economies much different than previous generations,” O’Hair said. “We believe our state is the leader in this regard and that innovations developed locally will become a model for the nation.”

Linda France, Director of Next Generation Learning, spoke about the background of next generation learning.

“Nearly half of 4.0 GPA students who come to college struggle,” she said. “This is simply due to the lack of preparation for learning in a college atmosphere.”

Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Debbie Watts outlined how the schools in Jenkins have benefitted from next generation learning, such as focusing on project-based learning, putting more technology in students’ hands, adding sixth grade to the middle school and gearing instruction toward college and career readiness.

Maverick Bentley, EQT Director of Midstream Operations, praised Rutherford and his efforts along with UK and its initiatives.

“I for one would like to thank Judge Rutherford for his leadership of this county,” he said. “Wonderful things have happened and will continue to happen under your leadership.”

Bentley went on to say that in five years, EQT has donated over $500 million to various things in eastern Kentucky.

“Our slogan is ‘Where Energy Meets Innovation,’” Bentley said. “Programs such as this shows we are living up to our slogan.”

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