Jones Fork Elementary School — which began as a one-room schoolhouse and was expanded in 1964 to accommodate more children — is located in Knott County, Kentucky in the small community of Mousie.

Deb mentioned to Renée how proud she is of her students doing well in school despite their impoverished backgrounds and how willing they are to help fellow students as though they were all one big family.

The smallest school in the county, Jones Fork educates just 165 children in grades kindergarten through eight. According to our volunteer coordinator at the school, Deb, children at the small school have above average test scores. Deb attributes this to what she calls a “family atmosphere” at the school. Teachers encourage children’s academic growth, and students even help each other out when they can — especially when times are tough.

Rising test scores and self-esteem

On a recent trip to Knott County, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube met with Deb at the Jones Fork Elementary School’s Family Resource Center. Deb said she feels that support from our sponsors plays a big role in children getting the attention they need and making them feel like equals with their peers. She says it helps with their self-esteem and makes them want to work harder in class. In fact, test scores at the school have risen for the past few years in a row, showing the students progress.

Students at Jones Fork Elementary School support one another in a family-like manner.

As they continued to talk, Deb explained to Renée that the community around Jones Fork Elementary used to be bustling with mining jobs, but is now hurting. The population is in decline, and many families feel hopeless about the future. The poverty is harsh. The closing of the last local mine shut down about ten years ago had a ripple effect — soon afterward both the local gas station and grocery store were forced to close. Last year students set up and ran a food pantry to help their classmates. Deb mentioned to Renée how proud she is of her students doing well in school despite their impoverished backgrounds and how willing they are to help fellow students as though they were all one big family.

Meeting Laura

Test scores at the school have risen for the past few years in a row, showing the students progress.

During her visit, Renée had the chance to meet Laura*, a young student enrolled in our program.

When she and Renée met, Laura was holding a greeting card she had just received from her sponsor. According to Deb, Laura loves being on our program. She loves her school supplies and nice clothes. She told Renée that having a sponsor is “the best!”

Before she left, Deb told Renée that Laura is one of two girls in her family. Both parents work part-time as school bus drivers, and their wages are low. Without a sponsor, Laura would go without a lot of things she needs to keep her comfortable and doing her best in school.

*Name changed to protect the child.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN KENTUCKY?

 You can sponsor a child in Kentucky in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.