Tag Archives: education

A State of the Art School

Wayne County lies nestled amid the vast natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and is home to the small town of Crum.

In recent years, mining companies have been forced to lay off workers or shut down altogether, and unemployment in this region has risen dramatically.

Crum was once a bustling community with a vibrant economy, bolstered by the now-struggling coal mining industry. In recent years, mining companies have been forced to lay off workers or shut down altogether, and unemployment in this region has risen dramatically.

Like many small towns in this rural part of West Virginia, Crum is quite remote, affording very few job opportunities and necessitating long commutes to even a decent grocery store. Residents who choose to stay here — where their families have lived for generations — often live well below the poverty line and face unspeakable struggles.

Escaping the realities of poverty

Students at Crum PK-8 School enjoy their newly-renovated school building.

Yet despite the adversity they face, Crum’s residents are hearty and resilient. Our affiliated project, Crum PreK-8 School, serves as a testament to their fortitude.

Crum PreK-8 School offers children a place where they can just be kids and escape the overwhelming stress of poverty. Students receive support, encouragement and nutritious meals each and every day. They are also provided with a well-rounded education in a brand new, state of the art building.

Visiting the new school

On a recent visit, Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube was able to see the new school for herself.

“It has been greatly needed for many years. It replaces the very old buildings and the new school is something that the whole community can be proud of,” said Renée.

According to the School’s website, students, parents and faculty do have a lot to be proud of:

“The new Crum PK-8 School replaces two existing facilities, Crum Elementary and Crum Middle Schools, that have been in disrepair and lacking the spaces and technology required for 21st century learning skills. The total enrollment for the school is 356 students. The new grade configuration separated the elementary students from the middle school students, but still allows the use of the common spaces within the building. They share the dining room, gymnasium, media center and stage.

“The main entrance is accentuated with large steel trusses that form a vaulted wood ceiling that continues through the main corridor. Highlighting the façade is black brick with a glazed yellow brick accent and a stone wall memorializing the historic stone façade from the existing school.”

Only the best for students in West Virginia

Renée was very impressed by everything she saw at the school. She felt confident that because of the support they were receiving from their sponsors, these students were enjoying the best care possible in one of the nicest school facilities she has seen.

The list of improvements continues:

“The new school is more energy-efficient than the previous facility. It also is easily maintained with its polished concrete floors throughout the school. The gymnasium is located for ease of public access but can be divided for simultaneous use by elementary and middle school classes.”

“The academic areas have easy access to the advanced media center. Each classroom has several student computer locations and a teacher location. In addition to the typical classrooms, there are science classrooms and labs, teacher planning areas and separate administrative areas for elementary and middle school. The new facility is home to a vocational agriculture classroom/lab with an attached greenhouse.”

Renée was very impressed by everything she saw at the school. She felt confident that because of the support they were receiving from their sponsors, these students were enjoying the best care possible in one of the nicest school facilities she has seen.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN WEST VIRGINIA?

 You can sponsor a child in West Virginia 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.

Insufficient Food for Growing Kids

As the name suggests, Cannonsburg Elementary is located in the isolated and rural town of Cannonsburg, Kentucky in Boyd County. Like many of Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field communities, Cannonsburg has suffered dramatically from the decline of the coal mining industry.

At the height of the coal operations, Boyd County was an essential and active port city for the transport of coal along the Ohio River. Today, many of its residents live in abject poverty. Illiteracy and high dropout rates are significant problems in this area.

Ruth and Renée in Cannonsburg Elementary School’s Resource Center

Fortunately for children living in Boyd County, Cannonsburg Elementary School provides them with a beautiful and bright learning space and a welcome distraction from the struggles that their families face. But even though children don’t have to think about the hardships in their lives during school hours, the reality is that they often return home to empty refrigerators and cabinets with no food on the weekends.

A lot of children in need

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, Cannonsburg Elementary School serves 276 children in Pre-K through 5th grade.

Even though children don’t have to think about the hardships in their lives during school hours, the reality is that they often return home to empty refrigerators and cabinets with no food on the weekends.

On a recent visit to the school, our volunteer coordinator, Ruth, told Renée that she has over 80 of those children in attendance on her Weekend Backpack Feeding Program. Ruth is sure that without the program, these children would have little or no food to eat on Saturdays and Sundays when they are not at school where they receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch.

This is a harsh reality for many children in our program all over the United States. But thankfully, because of dedicated volunteer coordinators like Ruth, sponsored and unsponsored children in our program can rely on weekly food bags to take home on Friday afternoons that ensure they are being fed when not in school.

A struggling family

Ruth sends food from the food pantry home with dozens of children every weekend.

During her time at Cannonsburg Elementary School, Renée had a chance to meet two brothers who are benefiting from our sponsorship program and the Resource Center’s Weekend Backpack Feeding Program.

Carter and Josiah* are two of seven children in their family, ranging in ages from three to nineteen years old. Their parents are separated, and Carter and Josiah’s mom — who works full time at McDonald’s — is mainly raising the children alone.

Ruth describes their mother as responsible and loving to her children, but it is tough for her to provide for everything they need. The Weekend Backpack Feeding Program helps them a lot — as do Carter and Josiah’s sponsors.

Ruth also mentioned to Renée she is planning on enrolling more of their siblings in our program so they can have sponsors too that can provide for their basic needs.

*Names changed to protect the children.

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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.

Pride in Her Students

For years, Catlettsburg, where our affiliated projects Catlettsburg Elementary and Ponderosa Elementary Schools are located, was known as “The Gate City” because it was here that barges were loaded with coal to be shipped down the Ohio River to other ports.

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

The decline of the coal industry in Kentucky and West Virginia has severely diminished the city’s economic importance, and commerce is now minimal. Today, this area of Boyd County, Kentucky suffers from high rates of both poverty and illiteracy, since a significant number of adults have never completed high school.

These social and economic problems negatively affect even the youngest members of Catlettsburg, which is why both Ponderosa and Catlettsburg Elementary serve as bright and welcoming places for children to learn and escape some of the harsh realities they face at home.

The Haves and Have Nots

While visiting the two schools, our Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube, met with our volunteer coordinator Jenny. Jenny oversees the resource centers at both schools, ensuring that children — including sponsored and unsponsored children in our program — are receiving basic needs throughout the school year.

During their meeting, Jenny explained to Renée that because Boyd County is located in a very rural and beautiful part of the country, Catlettsburg has become a popular place for middle and upper-class families to build homes. Jenny feels that because of this migration, the student population is divided more conspicuously into the “haves and have nots.”

Although the children may come from strikingly different economic backgrounds, that doesn’t change how they interact with one other.

While the administration, faculty and staff of the schools may know which families struggle and which do not, Jenny says the students are very close and treat each other with kindness and respect.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Additionally, as a tight-knit group, the children are more than willing to come together to help other students in need — even those that are far away.

Rising to a challenge

Before their meeting ended, Jenny told Renée a story expressing how much pride she had in her students.

In 2018, the deadly Camp Fire burned down much of the town of Paradise, California — including a school also named Ponderosa Elementary School. Not long after the fire, the principal of Ponderosa Elementary School in Catlettsburg was informed about a nationwide fundraiser through another Ponderosa Elementary School in Oregon.

The fundraiser, deemed “Pennies for Ponderosa Initiative” requested that the eleven schools named Ponderosa Elementary School in the United States collect donations for the rebuilding of the California school.

The children at Jenny’s School stepped up to the challenge. They not only raised money to help students on the other side of the country, but also sent video messages of hope and encouragement as they and their families worked to rebuild their lives.

Whether coming from an impoverished background or not, children at Ponderosa Elementary School showed that they were willing to do anything they could to help others in need — and that is something to be proud of.

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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.

Working with a Shoestring Budget

The small town of Grayson is located in Carter County, Kentucky and is home to Heritage Elementary School — Children Incorporated’s only affiliated project in this Appalachian county.

Missie sorts through donations in the Resource Center.

In the 19th century, Carter County was famous for its iron furnaces and thriving clay products industry. Carter Cave — now a tourist attraction — was a significant source of saltpeter during the War of 1812.

Coal from this region once fueled factories, powered locomotives and heated millions of homes. Today, however, manufacturing only accounts for 15% of the county’s employment. Moreover, the coal industry, which once employed the majority of the region’s workforce, has sharply declined due to automation and the increased use of other fuels.

A county in distress

Designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission as a distressed county, Carter County currently has an unemployment rate well above the national average and a low median household income. The lack of employment opportunities has resulted in widespread poverty, along with associated socioeconomic issues such as drug abuse, lack of education and poor health.

In an area menaced continuously by the devastating effects of poverty, Heritage Elementary School — and our volunteer coordinator, Missie — provide children with a safe and supportive place to learn and grow.

In an area menaced continuously by the devastating effects of poverty, Heritage Elementary School — and our volunteer coordinator, Missie — provide children with a safe and supportive place to learn and grow. They do this despite working with only a shoestring budget.

A dedicated coordinator

While visiting Heritage Elementary School, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, met with Missie to talk about how her efforts are helping sponsored and unsponsored kids in our program.

“Missie is well-organized when it comes to her work with the Children Incorporated sponsorship program. She hopes to enroll more children in the near future because she knows she can handle the workload,” said Renée.

Missie told Renée that she shops at various stores — sometimes having to travel as far as 30 miles — to find the best deals so she can make the most of sponsor’s donations. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have much to work with at all since she has a minimal budget with which to run the school’s Family Resource Center.

Looking for help on the outside

The Resource Center accepts donations from different partnering organizations in Carter County.

In order to help children outside of our sponsorship program, Missie raises funds and seek in-kind donations from a variety of partners in town such as local businesses. She also makes and sells t-shirts whose proceeds go to the school’s Weekend Backpack Feeding Program. Thankfully, our sponsors alleviate much of her stress. Missie loves the peace of mind that sponsorship funds give her. Thanks to our sponsors, she always knows that kids in our program will receive basic needs regularly.

Before their meeting ended, Missie mentioned to Renée that she would like to put in a request to our Hope in Action Fund. Missie wants to develop and implement a summer camp so children can get additional help with math and reading as well as participate in enrichment activities like arts and crafts. Not surprised by her dedication and willingness to go above and beyond for kids at Heritage Elementary School, Renée looks forward to receiving Missie’s request since our Hope in Action Fund was designed for situations just as this one.

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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.

How Poverty Impacts Academic Achievement

In our work at Children Incorporated, we often talk about the importance of getting an education. For children in our program, we believe education is the key to finding jobs upon graduation that will enable them to work toward breaking the cycle of poverty from which they come.

Unfortunately, statistics show that children growing up in impoverished households often perform less well academically than their peers.

The challenges of living below the poverty line

Jackie is pictured here with one of our sponsored children at Beaver Creek Elementary School.

As reported by the non-profit Operation Warm’s website, “Children living above the poverty line are entering kindergarten more prepared than those below it. High-income families are able to put more money towards their children’s cognitive development than those living in poverty.”

“Parents with low incomes, on average, have less time to read to their children, no funds for pre-school and less stable home environments. The difference in preparation tends to persist through elementary and high school.”

Beavers Are Achievers

According to our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, this achievement gap is prevalent in some of our affiliated schools in Eastern Kentucky, and specifically at Beaver Creek Elementary School in Knott County. Located in the small community of Topmost, families of children enrolled at Beaver Creek Elementary face rampant poverty. They struggle to overcome the common socioeconomic problems that plague Knott County such as adult illiteracy, school absenteeism, child obesity and substance abuse.

“There is no question that poverty can impact academic achievement in ways ranging from lack of books in the home to transportation barriers that make it difficult to travel to cultural and historic sites,” stated Renée. 

While visiting Beaver Creek Elementary School, Renée met with our volunteer coordinator Jackie, who Renée describes as incredibly devoted to helping her students.

During their meeting, Jackie explained that although the school motto is “Beavers Are Achievers” the children are struggling academically as they aim to reach their goals. The school’s test scores lag behind state averages, reaching only the 51st percentile in reading and just the 38th percentile in math in state ranking.

“There is no question that poverty can impact academic achievement in ways ranging from lack of books in the home to transportation barriers that make it difficult to travel to cultural and historic sites,” stated Renée. 

Making kids feel loved

Often times while visiting our affiliated projects, Renée visits with parents of children enrolled in our program.

Jackie told Renée that one of the biggest challenges in the community — and the county as a whole — is coping with drug addiction and the lack of treatment options for it. The fallout affects many children, resulting in them being raised by grandparents or other family members. For other children who still live at home with their parents, they are often being neglected and raising themselves.

Jackie feels fortunate that a local church brings food to the school’s Resource Center for her weekend Backpack Feeding Program. She says that the Children Incorporated sponsorship program is vital in helping with clothing, shoes and school supplies throughout the year. Jackie also values how sponsors make her students feel special and let them know that someone cares for them.

Meeting two special parents

After taking a tour of the building and grounds, Jackie was happy to show Renée the Family Resource Center where she had asked two of her parents —Raven and Scottie — to thank our organization on behalf of all the parents of sponsored children.

While meeting with Raven and Scottie, Renée could tell they were both very dedicated to and concerned for their daughters.

“Raven is a homemaker. Scottie was unemployed for a long time but has recently gotten a job at a small, local non-profit community center. The pay is meager. They told me that our sponsorship program has meant so much to their little girls, and that it warms their hearts to see the excitement their sponsors bring to their children,” said Renée.

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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.

The Hardworking Families of Eastern Kentucky

The Commonwealth of Kentucky comprises five primary geographical regions. Children Incorporated’s outreach is in the eastern third of the state known as the Cumberland Plateau region.

Many young boys and girls of this community whose families have suffered without steady employment go without meals on the weekends or shiver in the cold at night without heat in their homes during the harsh Appalachian winter.

As a part of the Appalachian Mountain and Plateau region of the United States, the Cumberland Plateau is characterized by high elevations, mountainous terrain, ridges and deep and narrow hollows. Over the last 30 years, our U.S. Division has focused on working in this region due to its historically high poverty rate.

On a trip to visit our affiliated projects in this area of the country where we support kids, Director of U.S. Programs Renée Kube and U.S. Projects Specialist Shelley Oxenham met with our volunteer coordinators and sponsored children in Knott County, Leslie County and Perry County. During their visits, they both had a chance to learn more about how these counties — and the families that reside in them — have been affected by poverty.

High unemployment for the Cumberland Plateau

The Cumberland Plateau has been home to generations of hardworking coal miners and close-knit families. With the collapse of the coal industry — due to automation, cheaper foreign markets and a decline in demand — this region’s unemployment rates have skyrocketed.

Our sponsored children in Kentucky are receiving the support they need thanks to their sponsors.

Many young boys and girls of this community whose families have suffered without steady employment go without meals on the weekends or shiver in the cold at night without heat in their homes during the harsh Appalachian winter.

A history of Eastern Kentucky

Until the mid-20th century, Kentucky was considered an agricultural state — in fact, more than half the state is still farmland. Principal crops include corn, soybeans, hay and tobacco. Several of the counties in the upper portion of the Cumberland Plateau region were not historically coal-mining areas — instead, their economies revolved around agriculture, timber and fishing.

However, the coal producing counties in the lower portion of the Cumberland Plateau have suffered from the decline of the coal industry due to higher mechanization and lower demand.

Stories from their travels

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our affiliated schools in Knott County, Leslie County and Perry County. Thanks to our sponsors and donors, Renée and Shelley found that children, although living in poverty, are receiving the support and care that they need so they can get an education.

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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.