Helping students succeed, both in the classroom and in life, is the guiding principle behind the University of Pikeville’s new Champion Scholars peer-mentoring program.
The program was made possible through a partnership with The Center for Rural Development and Forward in the Fifth, a grassroots organization created in 1986 by Congressman Hal Rogers to advance educational attainment rates in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.
Announcing the program to a group of regional school administrators, University of Pikeville President Paul E. Patton talked about the importance of encouraging students to seek opportunities for higher education.
“Too often, our best and brightest leave the area. If we educate our students in the mountains there is a greater likelihood they will remain in the mountains and help lead and grow our communities here at home,” Patton said.
Twenty UPIKE students will mentor at-risk seventh-graders from Pikeville, Virgie, Mullins, Millard and Belfry middle schools. The university students will meet weekly with mentees to talk about academic goals, social issues, work on leadership and communication skills and preparation for high school and college.
Working with mentors who are closer in age is a plus, according to Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth. Tackett sees the program as a way to “plant the seeds” for learing opportunities. Forward in the Fifth’s mission is to engage students, families, community leaders and educators who can work together to advance the value of education. Equally important to the mission is advocating for improved quality of life through educational attainment and advancing those goals by supporting schools and communities with strategies for success.
“We are excited to be partnering with the University of Pikeville,” said Tackett. “We want to encourage students to think outside the box and consider their hopes and dreams.”