Skip to main content


James Hurley, left, vice president and special assistant to University of Pikeville President and former Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton; Teresa Lockhart, P-16 director; Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth; Laura Kamperman, community education specialist for Forward in the Fifth; and Dr. Dessie Bowling, Forward in the Fifth board chair, announce a new peer mentoring program, "Champion Scholars," to serve middle school students in Pike County.

Forward in the Fifth and The Center for Rural Development are partnering with the University of Pikeville to launch a new peer mentoring program in Pike County.

The program, called “Champion Scholars,” will serve middle school students in four schools in the Pike County School District and one from the Pikeville Independent School District.

UPIKE President and former Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton and Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, announced the program last month at a news conference held on the university’s campus in Pikeville.

“We are excited to be partnering with the University of Pikeville,” Tackett said. “Who better knows the challenges and battles of being a middle school student than those who experienced it less than a decade ago?”

During the 2011-2012 school year, 18 UPIKE students will mentor seventh-grade students from Pikeville, Virgie, Mullins, Millard, and Belfry middle schools. The university students will meet weekly with middle school students to talk about academic goals, social issues, work on leadership and communication skills, and preparation for high school and college.

“Too often, our best and brightest leave the region,” Patton said in announcing UPIKE’s “Champion Scholars” peer mentoring program. “If we educate our students in the mountains, there is a greater likelihood they will remain in the mountains and help lead and grow our communities here at home.”

Forward in the Fifth’s mission is to engage students, families, community leaders, and educators to work together to advance education across Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The non-profit organization—and affiliate of The Center—was created in 1986 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and other leaders to work to reverse low educational attainment levels in the Fifth Congressional District.

The “Champion Scholars” peer mentoring program was initiated through a partnership between Forward in the Fifth; The Center, a non-profit organization based in Somerset; and the University of Pikeville with support from the U.S. Department of Education.

“This mentoring program is an excellent way to plant seeds of hope, encouragement, and vision of what the young people in Pike County can accomplish in just a few short years,” Tackett said. “It is our desire that these very mentees will one day give back to their community and region by continuing that which their mentor started with them.”

Other mentoring programs have been launched by Forward in the Fifth at Lindsey Wilson College, located in Columbia, and Union College in Barbourville.


UPIKE "Champion Scholars" mentors and mentees from Pike County School District









UPIKE "Champion Scholars" mentors and mentees from Pikeville Independent School District