Forward in the Fifth

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Champion Scholars mentoring program

Nineteen Pikeville middle school students have graduated from a new peer mentoring program launched by the University of Pikeville (UPike) and presented in partnership with Forward in the Fifth and The Center for Rural Development.

Seventh-grade students in four Pike County middle schools and one middle school in Pikeville Independent School District completed UPike’s “Champion Scholars” peer mentoring program.  The program was offered for the first time last school year to students attending Belfrey, Vergie, Millard and Mullins middle schools.

Forward in the Fifth, an affiliate of The Center, partnered with UPike to present “Champion Scholars,” which paired middle school students one-on-one with UPike student mentors.

“The UPike Champion Scholars mentoring program has allowed both our college and middle school students’ lives to be enhanced through the countless hours spent discussing study skills, academics, and personal issues,” said Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth.  “There is no substitute for quality experiences like these.”

UPike student mentor Jacob Dotson met middle school student Jarred Case for weekly mentoring sessions at school so he could assist the struggling seventh-grader with homework assignments.

At that time, Dotson said Case was having trouble keeping track with his classroom assignments and would often lose or misplace his homework before it ever reached his teachers’ desks.

Once Dotson said he figured out the problem was more of a lack of organizational skills than Case’s ability to do the work, the UPike student said he noticed a complete change in the student’s attitude.

“Jarred became a totally different student,” said Dotson.  “It has been a humbling and inspiring experience to see the improvements he has made in his life.”

Case noticed the change too.

“Thanks to Jacob’s encouragement, my grades have improved in science and social studies,” the Pike County student said.  “I really appreciate what he has done taking the time to help me, not only in school, but to have someone to look up to.”

“These students sometimes need a little push,” added Teresa Lockhart, P-16 director for UPike, who worked with Forward in the Fifth to establish the “Champion Scholars” peer mentoring program.  “They need someone to talk to…and they don’t always communicate with an adult.”

This is the third peer mentoring program to be presented by Forward in the Fifth in partnership with a Kentucky college or university.  Other programs have been held at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia and Union College in Barbourville.

For more information about Forward in the Fifth, or to learn more about peer mentoring programs, contact Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, at 606-677-6000 or

University of Pikeville mentor Jacob Dotson spends some quality time with Pike County middle school student mentee Jarred Case




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