LCMS students learn life skills in GEAR UP program

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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Lincoln County Middle School students and their families recently spent three days learning a variety of life-changing skills during a summer program offered by the Lincoln County GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

During “Amazing May Days,” held May 23–25 at Lincoln County Middle and High School, GEAR UP staff members Lara Heck, college and career navigator; Rebecca Garcia, academic interventionist; and Kayla Adams-Smith, college and career navigator — affectionately known at LCMS as “the GEAR UP ladies” — organized financial literacy workshops, food science lessons, student leadership opportunities, economic development discussions, career exploration, job shadowing, and even a chance to learn to cook French classics from a former Disney chef.

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Twenty students and five parents attended the event sponsored by Partners for Rural Impact’s GEAR UP Promise Zone.

Lincoln County High School Culinary Program Director Stephen Cassidy, who previously worked as a chef for Disney, took students and families into his kitchen and under his wing. Together they created delicious meals and unforgettable memories. Students then hosted a dinner for community leaders, including speaker Brad Thomas, economic developer for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, and learned about future career and postsecondary options.

The community leaders in attendance included Lincoln County’s Judge-Executive, board members, the principal for the Area and Technology Center, a representative from PBK Bank, parents, a former Lincoln County teacher, and an assistant principal from LCHS.

Students also had the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through workshops from Asbury University and tour their new home for the next four years, Lincoln County High School.

Partners for Rural Impact Appalachia brings together cross-sector organizations to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to achieve success. It works with more than 40 school districts and leverage 40 million per year in federal and other funds to provide a variety of programs and resources to 60,000 students and families.

GEAR UP Promise Zone serves more than 11,000 students in 36 schools, impacting 14 rural school districts across 13 counties.