Check out this story in the Richmond Register about Berea College President Lyle Roelofs representing Berea and Partners for Education at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action!
President Roelofs was also accompanied at the summit by Knox County Schools Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles. Knox County Schools are home to Partners for Education programs like GEAR UP, Full Service Community Schools, and PartnerCorps: School Turnaround.
To find out more about the event, the official White House blog has a write-up with links to all the speakers’ remarks.
COLUMBUS, OH—Partners for Education delegates attended the Rural Education National Forum on Monday and Tuesday of last week to learn more about the issues facing rural education and how educators, policy makers and advocates are overcoming them. Representatives from more than 20 states joined to network, participate in specialized learning sessions, and listen to keynote speakers including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickam, and National Rural Teacher of the Year Paul Kuhlman.
Homer Hickam, the first speaker in the forum’s keynote series, was made famous by October Sky, the film adaptation of his book Rocket Boys: A Memoir. Hickam drew from his experience growing up in rural Coalwood, West Virginia, where he and his friends developed the unusual hobby of building professional-quality rockets. In addition to recounting the deeds of the rocket Boys, Hickam noted that 90% of his 35 classmates from Coalwood went on to graduate from college in the 1960s. He credited the group’s success to the close-knit community of Coalwood. “You come from a real place with real people and a real history and a real culture,” said Hickam addressing kids in rural communities today. In addition, Hickam attributed his success as a NASA engineer and author to what he dubbed the 3 P’s of success: passion, planning, and perseverance. “It doesn’t matter if you lose. It’s the fella that keeps going that ultimately succeeds,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited Berea College’s Promise Neighborhood in November 2013, delivered his keynote after the morning’s learning sessions. Duncan applauded Berea for “coming together to create a set of opportunities that weren’t there before,” and said “federal funding is a small piece of the work, so we try to invest in people who have a vision for success” like the Berea College Promise Neighborhood. He elaborated by describing the success of Leslie County, saying that, through focusing on data, the district went from the bottom 6 in the state to 16th in 4 years, getting the graduation rate up to 99%. “I’m very optimistic about where we need to go, and the collective leadership here is a big reason why,” said Duncan.
Charlie Foster, communications coordinator for Partners for Education, came away from the forum feeling motivated. “I was inspired when the Secretary said that we need people telling the success stories in rural education because that’s the work that I do,” said Foster.
Battelle for Kids, a national not-for-profit organization that provides strategic counsel and solutions to improve the education system, hosted the Rural Education Forum. To learn more about Battelle for Kids and the Rural Education National Forum, visit: www.battelleforkids.org.