What happens when hundreds of community leaders and learners gather under one roof to spotlight the most promising classroom innovations in eastern Kentucky? Robots, flight simulations, student facilitation, singing, dancing, art making, and the Lt. Governor of Kentucky, as well as past Governors, will show up to offer support. And if you live stream all 10 concurrent sessions, 3,200 people will tune in. People from 20 states and 10 countries on 4 continents. This is the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) 2nd Annual Promising Practices Summit. Seven hundred participants on October 28 in Pikeville, as well as those streaming the event, used #ARIpromise15 to capture hundreds of thoughts, pictures, and videos of the event. But this is only the beginning.
The Hazard Middle School Chorus was one of the student performances that entertained the large group attending the Promising Practices Summit. The 77 middle school students sang a rousing rendition of “Let it Go” and ”In Summer” following the speech given by Lt. Governor Critt Luallen. The Lt. Governor told those gathered for the event that “The energy and innovation shown here gives great hope for the future of Kentucky. We are moving in the right direction. Efforts like this one are key to determining eastern Kentucky’s economic future.” She was particularly interested in the photography exhibit of the Hazard High School STLP students. The “Photo Effects” entrepreneurial project focuses on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship while engaging students with hands on experience outside the classroom that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century workforce. Hazard High School Student Senator and STLP member, Stacie Fugate was also able to meet with the Lt. Governor and former Governor, Paul Patton.
Over the coming academic year, 150+ rural educators will implement these promising practices, connecting thousands of rural students to project-based learning, hands-on innovation, and personalized educational environments. These students, teachers, and their communities are using a regional online learning platform called ‘The Holler’ to leverage emerging technologies as well as showcase their progress and results. Projects range from gardening in Geometry class to a Leap TV project that incorporates movement and learning in kindergarten. Starla Fannin, author of “Leap into Kindergarten”, is the kindergarten teacher at Roy G. Eversole, while Anne Kuhnen is the geometry teacher at Hazard High School. In addition, RGE’s computer teacher, Sherri Cornet presented a project on engaging students through creative technology that will focus on creating videos and digital story telling. Hazard Middle School was also represented with presentations by 6th grade teachers Billie Bowling and Ashley Haynes. Ashley’s ‘Blended Learning in 6th grade Mathematics” and Billie’s “Market Mania”, personalizing economics for sixth grade, will both involve innovative teaching and thinking outside the box. The whole world was tuned into this innovation in rural education through www.theholler.org, as well as on KVEC’s Facebook and Twitter pages. On April 27, 2016 these leaders and learners will gather together again to share the full journey of their innovations. Join us for those success stories at the 2nd Annual Action Research Summit.
“The ARI Promising Practices Summit demonstrates that there is no challenge facing this region that can not be solved by its talented educators and outstanding students,” shared Jeff Hawkins, Executive Director of Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative.
The Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) is a consortium of 99 schools in 17 outstanding rural school districts committed to sharing resources and professional learning opportunities. Focused in Appalachia Kentucky, ARI is also working to affect policy and protocol in an effort to connect learners to highly effective teachers every day. ARI is the direct result of a U.S. Department of Education-Race to the Top grant awarded to the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC). Through core strategies of personalized learning, teacher & leader effectiveness, and college & career success, KVEC is driving K-12 education as an economic development engine in the mountains.