Special grant helping out Ky. schools amid setbacks

Special grant helping out Ky. schools amid setbacks
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 10:22 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - School districts in Kentucky are still working to overcome delays and challenges that came with COVID-19.

On top of that, many districts in eastern areas are facing setbacks from the floods and lack of other resources.

“Being so far away and separated from things that are available for students in other areas,” said teacher Allison Slone.

Slone has been a passionate voice and activist for education and is now leading a group of teachers working to address the unique challenges of districts in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

The group also comprises of fellow teachers Dr. Emmanuel Anama-Green, Carly Baldwin, Brison Harvey, Kera Howard, and Tiffany Perkins.

“Being able to do the work I’ve done, I’ve seen how education is and how different it is in different regions of Kentucky,” said Slone. “So the needs in eastern Kentucky are sometimes the same needs as other places, but they look different. Then sometimes they’re very different.”

Thanks to a grant from the Steele-Reese Foundation to the Prichard Committee, the group will be studying, then addressing, recovery strategies from COVID and even flooding in eastern Kentucky classrooms.

“Steele-Reese’s support will help build a new foundation for education. It allows us to ask those closest to the process what resources and supports they need to meet students and families where they are and to ensure student learning catches up and persists in the months and years ahead,” said Brigitte Blom, President and CEO of the Prichard Committee. “We honor Steele-Reese’s commitment to supporting teachers who are dedicated to improving educational attainment in Kentucky’s Appalachian communities.”

“Our board does not see this grant as a “gift” to the Prichard Committee but rather as an investment,” said Judy Owens, Appalachian Director for the Steele-Reese Foundation. “Steele-Reese hopes to place tools in the hands of pragmatic problem solvers as they build a community that loves and cares for children.”

“With the flooding, and COVID, and things like that, they have realized that maybe some of the funds were needed for other things. But not being really located in eastern Kentucky, they wanted to understand what those needs were,” said Slone.

Needs of giving children opportunities and exposing them to a world outside of their region. It’s a simple reality for large districts but just a dream for those in rural parts of Kentucky.

“We learn more sometimes in experiencing things than we do just sitting in a classroom,” said Slone.

The first stage of the study will go out as a survey in the coming weeks to teachers. This will help the group identify what specific resources are needed and where in Appalachia. Then they can go from there to put the grant to use.