Coordinator believes Promise Neighborhood is helpful for students
Last Wednesday, Lynn Camp Senior Kristy Weddle was surprised with the hand delivery of her acceptance letter to Berea College.

Seeing that only one in every three students is selected from Berea’s applicant pool, Weddle was elated to join two of her fellow seniors, Hannah Foley and Aaliyah Flannelly as an admitted student.

Applying to Berea is a rigorous process consisting of school counselor evaluations, teacher recommendations, essays, and even an in-person interview. These ladies worked hard throughout their high school careers to make themselves stand out in those fields.

However, Lynn Camp’s Promise Community School Coordinator Arthur Canada believes that Promise Neighborhood was instrumental in ensuring the students were equipped to be ideal candidates.

Canada explained that Promise Neighborhood is simply an important additional resource that is in place for promising students, like Weddle, Foley and Flannelly, to utilize as they look toward college and career.

“We didn’t change a lot about them,” Canada said. “They were going to be good students regardless.”

Promise Neighborhood is a collaboration between Knox County and Berea College Partners for Education. The program utilizes federal grant money from the U.S Department of Education to provide students at Lynn Camp, Knox Central, Barbourville Independent, and Corbin Independent schools with academic support.

“Districts have a hard time funding several trips and initiatives,” said Corbin Independent Schools Promise Community Coordinator Heather Martinez.

She then went on to say that Promise Neighborhood can fill in gaps by providing college tours, ACT training, tutoring, attendance initiatives, and other important activities and services.

Promise Neighborhood coordinators are also in place at the schools to be people who students can rely on for mentorship and help. Coordinators often write recommendation letters, review important applications, and ensure that any questions are addressed.

Canada said he went as far as breaking down each section of the Berea College application with Weddle, Foley and Flannelly to make sure they all submitted the best application possible. He even arranged transportation to Berea College for the in-person interview.

Both Canada and Martinez also pointed to the leadership groups that have formed in the Promise Neighborhood schools as a tool that has been equally effective in getting students college and career ready.

Martinez said that her group was constantly working with faculty and staff to the point where “they almost seem like part of our workforce.” She said that it has taught them how to work well with older adults which will make the college and career transition easier.

Canada praised the work that his group has done within the community and said that they “get to take the lead without someone micromanaging them.”

The Promise Neighborhood grant at Lynn Camp, Knox Central, Barbourville Independent, and Corbin Independent schools will still be effective until December of 2021. This means that incoming seniors within these schools still have a chance to take advantage of these resources.

Martinez suggests to do that incoming seniors should start building relationships with their school’s coordinator and maintain that network throughout the next school year.

She said that by stopping my frequently and making the coordinator aware of their needs, the student can help influence trips and other coordinated activities.

Both Canada and Martinez want the grant to leave lasting impacts on their students and to celebrate many more college and career triumphs to come.

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