PIKEVILLE – The Patton Leadership Institute class met for their second of nine monthly sessions on Thursday, November 12 at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg. The focus of the session was on education in Eastern Kentucky. The day featured discussion with local education leaders and administrators from secondary and post-secondary institutions.
The session kicked off with a warm welcome to Prestonsburg from Mayor of Prestonsburg, Les Stapleton. Mayor Stapleton touched on a few challenges his city is facing as well as the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for Prestonsburg.
Following the Mayor, Josh Ball, Director of College Relations for BSCTC, discussed workforce development and the strides Big Sandy is making to prepare their students to become skilled and ready to enter the workforce upon graduation. Ball also gave an update on the expansion of BSCTC’s Pikeville campus. The college plans to build a 60,000 square feet building, nearly doubling the size of its current facility and constructing a parking garage to meet the demands of enrollment growth in and around Pike County.
Next, Governor Paul Patton, Chancellor and Interim President of the University of Pikeville and PLI’s namesake, visited with the class and discussed the Commonwealth’s education system and the tremendous progress that has been made in the last 20 years. He explained how Kentucky has been historically in the bottom of national educational rankings, but has steadily moved up over the past two decades. The major contributor to the increase is credited to the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 which stemmed from the Kentucky Supreme Court found the financing of schools in the state to be unconstitutional. The Courts ruled that the “entire system of common schools is unconstitutional” and required the legislature to “recreate, re-establish” the entire system of public education.
Also, the class was able to have an open dialogue with three regional superintendents including Dr. Henry Webb of Floyd County Schools, Thomas Salyer of Johnson County Schools, and Jerry Green of Pikeville Independent Schools. The class asked the superintendents to touch on the efforts each of their respective school systems are making to ensure their students are becoming fully college and career ready, how common core has impacted statewide curriculum, and the challenges that lie ahead for education in Eastern Kentucky.
The final two presenters during the session were Jacob S. Colley, President/CEO of the SEK Chamber, who conducted a personal branding workshop, and Dr. Howard Roberts, Dean of the Coleman College of Business, discussed UPIKE’s College of Business and MBA program.
To end the day, the class had a guided tour of the East Kentucky Science Center (EKSC) by Steven Russo, Director at EKSC. The class was able to experience a Planetarium show and a laser light show. They also had the privilege of watching EKSC’s “Season of Lights” show which will not be available to the public until December 1. EKSC opened in 2004 and has an annual attendance of around 10,000 attendees per year. They offer 17 Planetarium shows, 40 classroom/outreach lessons, and 34 laser shows. The East Kentucky Science Center is located at One Bert T. Combs Drive in Prestonsburg. Their hours are Tuesday through Friday 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday noon until 4 p.m. For more information please call (606) 889 – 4809 or visit bigsandy.kctcs.edu/EKSC.
The Patton Leadership Institute is the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s flagship professional development program that seeks to strengthen the future leadership in regional organizations by developing emerging talent into quality leaders. PLI is presented by Food City with additional sponsorship from Appalachian Wireless and AEP – Kentucky Power. For more information on the Patton Leadership Institute, visit www.pattonli.org.
Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (SEKC) is committed to improving the local economy, regional unity, political advocacy, and economic development; ultimately, improving the quality of life for citizens of the entire region. With over 550 member businesses that employ 25,000+ employees in 8 counties, SEKC provides a support network for businesses in Southeast Kentucky.