Clay County Clock Study Part 2: Kids See Impact of Education on UK Visit

These fourth graders may seem like any other
Kentucky kids on a field trip, but to Clay County school leaders, they represent the
future of Appalachia. We could be developing the next generation
of engineers and scientists right here in the mountains. You have to plant every seed possible in every
way that you can. Having UK come in and offer to do research with these students not just
to be the test subject but to be a part of the research and to see the research and to
interact with it, it’s shown them that there are opportunities, as they get older to do
these types of things. That’s why UK researchers behind the Clay
County clock study listen to school leaders when planning how to compensate these young
scientists. Originally we had thought about rewarding
the children monetarily and how we would do that. You know, when I first started talking
to (inaudible, 0:58), she said, “bring the children to your campus.” Part of they’re pay, and they did get paid
because they are researchers is a gift card to go to the UK bookstore, so that they can
purchase something that they will always remember, “I am a researcher, I am a Wildcat.” Their visit started with cheers, and then
lots of walking during their first-hand look at UK’s campus. I wanted to come to UK anyway, so I got a
tour of it, so I liked it. Well, we’ve been going around from place
to place, well, just looking around on some of the sites. It’s pretty nice, it’s really big. It’s a beautiful place. It’s awesome. But this visit went way beyond the heart of
campus, as they chatted with President Eli Capilouto. How many of you are here for the first time?
Almost everybody. The excitement grew as they ventured into
labs where they looked through microscopes, watched a runner move on a machine simulating
what it would be like on Mars, and even held a brain.
There can be a way to foster that excitement in school and in their classes, that’s great. Research has shown that students begin the
process of dropping out, third, fourth, fifth grade. We’ve just stopped that process in
the middle. To be able to show this to these kids and
to find out, “what do you like? What’re you interested in?” You can do that when
you get older. You can make a living of this. And that’s why we exist as a school district.
You get to inspire, and to get kids to see there’s a bigger world out there, and they
can do anything they want. All they have to do is get that education,
graduate college and career ready, and there’s a whole world open to them. The idea is that by eating in Blazer, and
walking into residence halls, students will experience life as a college student. It helps me to see what the college students
actually do, and for me to get ready. I kind of feel like I’m a college kid. An experience school officials say must begin
early. We’ve got to do something to make sure that
they have the skills needed, the mindset needed, and from our end as the public school system,
we’ve got to start that at an earlier process, then waiting until they’re juniors in high
school and taking them on a trip. Organizers say they also need inspiration,
something Jill Day hopes to provide. To be able to go back there and just show
them, you know what? If I can do this, then you can do this. You know, this is nothing
that is limited to me, that if you can go and get your education, and if you wanna come
back here, you can do that, you can make a difference in your community. She is the good of the children and the good
of the community. She wants to give back to a community that provided so much to her. I am so proud of her. She was a student of
mine. The fact that Jill went on to get advanced
degrees, and this wonderfully rigorous academic world that UK provides, it’s just a good thing. And then for her to turn around and come back
to her community to make sure that the next generation of scientists are coming from Clay
County. It let’s kids see “hey, that’s something that
I can do, I can be that.” Jill did it, I can do it. So what started for Day as a research project
in her hometown has resulted in a community partnership where everyone seems to win. Everyone benefitted from this. UK benefitted
from the data. For the researchers from UK, a benefit is
looking at a rural population. You have to think about the different populations
we have in this country and be more inclusive, and so it is very important for us to get
into these communities and work with them. I think these efforts are incredibly important.
They’re incredibly important to advance science, but they’re also very, very valuable to contributing
to enriching the lives of Kentuckians. There’s such a tie between education and the
economic development of a region, that Eastern Kentucky has got to up our game in education,
and we can’t do it alone. We have to have these partners. UK is our school. Because we want to work
with it, we want to do things with UK, our kids need to do things with UK, because if
they’re reaching out to us, and we’re opening our doors to them, then they’re going to get
more kids going to college, more kids coming back to their hometowns and becoming mayors,
educated people, educating more people. That’s good for UK, it’s good for us, and it’s good
for the state as a whole. I look forward to the day that because of
the research from our flagship university, the University of Kentucky, that our folks
no longer have to leave. But there is industry; there are jobs, here. A large-scale impact they hope will begin
with these kids. And you have to take it one student at a time.
And if we change two or three students’ lives, we’ve changed the whole family’s life. When they see that there are things that they
can do on this campus to get them excited about, hopefully, their education, I just
think that’s something that we may honestly never know the impact that it has until many
years from now. I mean, my really long term goal is that maybe
in a few years I’ll have one of the Clay County clock kids sitting in my classroom and they’ll
say, “I remember when you came down, I remember when I got to come to the University of Kentucky
and we got to see these labs, we got to see what you do as scientists.” Wow that would
be beyond, you know, to have that kind of an impact and be able to actually see it happen.
That’d be pretty incredible. A dream rooted in community.

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