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Promise Zone Profiles

Arthur Canada - Knox County








By Ashley Franklin

Lynn Camp High School held its FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Stronghold Competition in October of 2016. FIRST Stronghold is a robotic quest in a medieval setting. The goal is to breach opponents' forts, weaken defenses, and capture towers using catapults and balls. The students have six weeks to build a completely autonomous robot – which means it drives itself.

Arthur Canada is the coach that leads the way. Canada is the technology education teacher at Lynn Camp High School in Knox County. This is his 29th year teaching. He is currently the coach of the engineering club.  Like any club, it requires after school participation, however, his students go above and beyond. During the competition season, his students will work on the robots every day after school and on Saturdays.

“These students are dedicated, they even [came] in on snow days 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.,” said Canada.

Canada gives all the credit to his students and is very proud of all their accomplishments during the season. He even carries a broken robot fragment from the 2015 competition on his keychain.

Lynn Camp is teamed up with two other high schools in Knox County and is part of a program that only has nine teams in the state.

Canada is preparing students to be tomorrow’s engineers. The middle school even has an engineering club that builds LEGO robots, that catapult balls into goals.

Engineering is a difficult and competitive field. It requires intense schooling, but it offers a promising future. Canada's students have expressed interest in University of Louisville's Speed School, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. 

 Canada is dedicated to teaching his students essential, versatile skills. Computer coding is knowledge required for operating their robots. It is a trade his student must learn in their free time.

“It’s so important, I think kids should learn coding as early as elementary school,” said Canada.

Acting as a teacher, coach, and an experienced role model, Canada has shaped our region by giving his students the skills they need to be successful in the future.

Who is shaping our Appalachian region?








By Megan Kiely

It would be a lie to say a negative stereotype did not loom over Eastern Kentucky. For decades, the misunderstood culture was branded by the narrow-minded as a population of uneducated, unimportant hillbillies. Perhaps all they needed was an opportunity.

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) is a collection of individual educational groups that offer services to 19 member district schools throughout Eastern Kentucky. KVEC consists of a large staff of dedicated and competent educators whose main goal is to provide opportunity by improving life and education for Appalachian students.

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative Associate Director, Dessie Bowling, is one of many to see the prospective potential of this neglected region and has helped set this goal into motion with the creation of the organization.

Bowling says KVEC has an intentional focus on improving teaching, leadership and learning throughout the region.

Ron Daley, strategic partnership leader for KVEC, praised the organization and its efforts to advance the Appalachian region.

“We are effective by being the oldest, most experienced and ambitious of any of the other Kentucky co-ops,” Daley said.

Daley also supports the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative. SOAR aims to develop opportunities for the people of Eastern Kentucky and to lift the stereotype that has tainted the culture of the region.

Daley hopes that by working together, KVEC and other like organizations can improve the economy of the region and create a more sustainable, improved society.

 KVEC is a recipient of the Race to the Top grant funding, which is being used to break educational barriers in the Appalachian region.

“We have visionary leadership and a very diverse team of professionals hired from the local school districts and colleges to implement the Race to the Top grant," Daley said.

 KVEC's initiatives are shaping and showcasing the region's capabilities and growing economy.

Sam Coleman, Jr. - Bell County

By Rachel Droege, Class of 2017

It’s rare to find someone who is as devoted to helping his hometown flourish as Sam Coleman, Jr.  As a retired officer from the United States Marine Corps, Capt. Coleman now resides in Middlesboro, KY with a passion for helping his community.

Coleman is the director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) in the state's southern region. He specializes in helping potential and existing businesses grow. He works with an average of 100 clients every year. However, only five to ten will actually start a business.

“Well, we don’t have a shortage of entrepreneurs. Ideas are never the problem. The problem is the interjection – it has to make economic sense.” Coleman said. “You may be a great plumber, but you may not understand the business of plumbing. I don’t guarantee success or failure. I guarantee economic understanding of what you want to do. I think we’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

In 2010, Coleman was inducted into the KSBDC’s Million Dollar Loan Club, honoring his assistance with more than $1 million in loans. Coleman attributes his success to his passionate clients.  Coleman says Appalachia is full of free thinkers and talented people. With the help of the internet, they can do business anywhere in the world.

Coleman left his job in Florida to return home to Middlesboro, so he could be with his mother. This family man truly values the people of Appalachia. In addition to his work developing small businesses, Colman serves on several local boards. He devotes much of his time to make the region better. “If I’m not going to make it better, then who is?”

He enjoys the Southern way of life. When reflecting upon the different cultures he’s experienced throughout his travels, Coleman truly values Southern hospitality. “There’s just something about that place called home. It may not be much, but it’s mine.”

EKU professor working to build student field experience in the Promise Zone











By Jalen O'Bannon, Class of 2017

Brian Clark is an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation & Park Administration at Eastern Kentucky University.  He has a background in outdoor retail management, outdoor education, adventure programming, and environmental education. Before he was an assistant professor, Clark was the Assistant Director for Campus Recreation and Adventure Programs from 2007-2015. Clark describes his work as somewhat challenging. “Everything I do has a risk management component to it, and therefore is always in the back of my mind,” said Clark.

His motto is to “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” He measures his working success and accomplishments by seeing his former students take on his profession as theirs and obtaining great careers in the field. Clark said he loves hearing back from his former students, and their successes makes him feel very happy and accomplished.

Clark has multiple certificates as an outdoor educator, climbing facilitator, and aquatic wildlife trainer. Clark is working to develop fieldwork opportunities in the Promise Zone region for students in the summer and fall semesters. The work will focus on the areas of guiding, facilitating, management, and ecotourism entrepreneurism. Eastern Kentucky University's Department of Recreation and Park Administration has proposed a partnership with the City of Pineville, Bell County Tourism and Pine Mountain State Resort Park that would present students with the opportunity for civic engagement and service learning experience through a canopy zip line tour project. Department students will be introduced to the outdoor recreation industry, presented an opportunity to network with park employees, gain training and hands-on experience, and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. 

Clark adds that as a professor, he “[love(s)] getting the opportunity to educate young people on something that [he is] truly passionate about.” He sees his job as being the best in the world.



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