Forward in the Fifth

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2014 Apple Awards

Forward in the Fifth has selected six educators and two community and student-based organizations to receive the 2014 Appalachian Leaders in Education (AppLE) Awards for their efforts to advance education in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

The AppLE Awards celebrate excellence in education and recognize individuals and organizations that go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in the lives of students in the region.

Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, announced this year’s AppLE Award recipients during Education Leadership Day on Wednesday, April 16, at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

“The contributions highlighted today demonstrate the true commitment of our region at being the best it can be,” Tackett said.  “This year’s nominees, winners, and presenters have great vision and empower students and adults daily to make the most of education and always be life-long learners. All are doing important work and we salute them.”

2014 AppLE Award winners

The winners of the 2014 AppLE Awards and their respective award categories are:

  • Educator (Early Childhood)Paula Gray, director, Paula’s Family Child Care, Pulaski County
  • Educator (K-12 teacher)Dr. Joyce Bowling, teacher, Manchester Elementary School, Clay County
  • Educator (K-12 support staff)Alicia McClurg, coordinator of Youth Services Center, Morgan County High School, Morgan County
  • Educator (K-12 administrator)Noel Crum, principal, Johnson Central High School, Johnson County
  • Educator (Higher Education)Dr. James Hurley, president, University of Pikeville
  • Community/Business LeaderSouth Kentucky RECC
  • Adult EducationPamela Branam, assistant director, Menifee County Adult Education, Menifee County
  • Student GroupPike County Youth Leadership Council

The AppLE Awards program was started in 2011 by Forward in the Fifth, a nonprofit organization and affiliate of The Center for Rural Development, as a way to recognize individuals for their hard work and dedication in helping to advance education in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.  Nominations are accepted in four major categories: educators (early childhood, K-12, higher education, and adult education); community/business leader; parent or parent group; and student or student group.

“Educational success is the responsibility of each of us,” said Forward in the Fifth board chair Dr. Dessie Bowling. “Forward in the Fifth’s Leadership Day highlights various stakeholders, demonstrating their proactive involvement and strong desire to make schools and communities better places. It’s inspirational to see our students, parents, educators, and community leaders creating innovative practices which others outside our region and state will want to emulate.”

As part of Education Leadership Day, school districts from Estill, Owsley, Pulaski, and Wayne counties and the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative delivered interactive presentations on some of their most innovative projects and initiatives.

Keynote speaker Audrey Sniezek, program director for Microsoft Corporation, challenged educators to learn more about the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, or TEALS, program that helps struggling schools with remote science and technology education. Lee County High School in Beattyville, Ky., within Forward in the Fifth’s 45-county primary service area, is one of 70 TEALS schools in 12 states.

Forward in the Fifth was formed in 1986 by Congressman Hal Rogers and other leaders to work to reverse low educational attainment levels in the Fifth Congressional District. The organization strives to engage community stakeholders to advance the value of education; serves as advocates to advance all education systems to improve educational attainment; and supports schools and stakeholders to secure needed resources to improve the quality of education within their local communities.

For more information about Forward in the Fifth, contact Executive Director Jim Tackett at 606-677-6000; email; or visit



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