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Group will adopt McRoberts school

McRoberts Elementary School has been “adopted” by a group of New York families and schools from affluent districts who work with rural schools to address problems associated with poverty and isolation.

McRoberts Principal Kristie Collett told the Jenkins Independent Board of Education at its May meeting that New York community activist Pam Koner and her group, Family-to-Family, have chosen McRoberts, the smallest school in the Jenkins system, as a partner. Collett said students in McRoberts will communicate with New York students through letters and e-mail and will receive donations, including $1,000 per month in food. Collett said the first food delivery came from Kmart and backpacks full of food were sent home with each student.

Collett told the board she had to conduct quite a bit of research into the history and demographics of McRoberts and the impact of the post-industrial economy on the small coal town as part of the process of participating with Family to-Family. The McRoberts chapter will not officially become active until September, but activities are already underway in the partnership, including the monthly food delivery from Kmart.

Collett said she learned about Family-to-Family, which has other Kentucky chapters at Redbud in Harlan County and in Myra in Pike County, through Backpack Mission Ministries and Manna from Heaven and contacted Ms. Koner herself. Following a series of conversations between the two, McRoberts Elementary was chosen to participate as a chapter school. Collett said Backpack Ministries will continue to work though the McRoberts Community Center to provide food for families in need in the McRoberts area.

Family-to-Family was created in 2002 when Koner read about Pembroke, Illinois in a series of

articles in The New York Times

concerning poverty in the United States. One of the articles mentioned Pembroke as a town where many homes had dirt floors and tires on tin roofs to keep them from blowing away. Koner contacted an outreach worker in Pembroke and got the names of 17 of the neediest families in Pembroke and convinced 16 of her friends to join her in sending food and other supplies to the community. Soon, an exchange of letters began and Family-to-Family was born. The organization now serves 13 impoverished communities throughout the United States.

McRoberts joins other hard hit communities, including Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, N.Y. Family to-Family has been featured on television news programs on ABC

and CBS, as well as in Reader’s Digest,

People Magazine, and in The

New York Times and New York

Daily News.

McRoberts was built by Consolidated Coal in 1912 as part of the development of Jenkins and the surrounding coalfields. Its primary purpose was to provide housing for miners and their families. The community thrived during the early part of the last century before falling prey to the boom and bust nature of the coal economy. Since the decline of the captive mines and their mining towns, McRoberts, like Jenkins and other communities heavily dependent on coal mining, has declined and now has a population of 921, according to the 2000 census.

In other business, Jenkins Independent Superintendent Deborah Watts introduced the board to new Jenkins Middle/ High School Principal Lisa Carroll. Carroll is a former central office employee with Hazard Independent Schools and has worked with the Kentucky Department of Education for the last three years as a Highly Skilled Educator, providing assistance to schools with specific needs. Carroll was part of the state team working with the Jenkins System to improve its test scores. Watts said Carroll will be a great asset to the school system and the community.

“Jenkins has no place to go but up,” said Carroll. “I’m thrilled to be here.”

Watts also announced that Ashley Addington has been hired as head girls’ basketball coach at Jenkins. Addington is a 2002 graduate of Jenkins High School and a 2007 graduate of the University of Virginia at Wise and was a standout basketball and softball player at Jenkins. She also played softball at UVa.-Wise.

The board also voted to hire a part-time wrestling coach at a salary of $2,050 per year for boys and girls wrestling teams.

In other board business:

. The board unanimously voted for across-the-board one percent raises for both certified and classified personnel.

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