HAZARD — Hazard Community and Technical College, and their partner Berea College, recently hosted a meeting with Greg Darnieder, special assistant to the secretary on college access for the U.S. Department of Education. The meeting was to discuss the use of funds from a GEAR Up grant given to Berea that aims at increase college readiness and degree attainment in Eastern Kentucky.
Berea College has been awarded a total of two grants for use in Eastern Kentucky schools, giving resources and improving use of statistics in helping students. The grant gives students the chance to visit colleges and become better prepared for life after high school. Perry County Schools has been chosen as one of the districts to participate in the GEAR Up programs through Berea College.
Darnieder attended the meeting with representatives from the two GEAR Up programs being run by Berea and Hazard Community and Technical College. Darnieder said that his goal for his visit was to find out how the money was going to be used to bring about a positive effect in the schools.
The grants will go toward helping around 5,000 students through the GEAR Up Appalachia and the Promise Neighborhood programs. Students in the programs will be tracked using the most advanced statistics to give a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses in school. The hope is that schools will be able to use this information to help students in ways they never could before.
Darnieder asked questions about training for the educators in the schools so that they can both update and use the statistics for their students. He said that while he was the director of the I Have A Dream program — which was a precursor to GEAR Up — he was able to make major strides in education by use of data.
Darnieder said he believed in the actions Berea and the participating organizations and schools were taking in helping students. With Eastern Kentucky having one of the lowest percentages of college graduates and access to colleges, Darnieder hopes the GEAR Up programs will be able to help.
During his visit he was able to see the Challenger Learning Center and watch several students go through the center.