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The Kentucky Migrant Education Program’s southern region piled on the accolades at the annual Fall Academy in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Three staff members, in particular, were celebrated for going above and beyond to help the region’s migrant students achieve academic success.

The Kentucky Migrant Education Program is a federally-funded grant program designed to remove educational barriers for children who move frequently due to their families’ reliance on income from seasonal or temporary agricultural labor. These students often have significant social, cultural, economic and linguistic barriers that may inhibit their success in school. The overall focus of the migrant education program is to provide supplemental academic services to help put students on the right track toward graduation from high school or obtaining a GED. 

Since 2002, the Southern Kentucky Migrant Education Program (SKYMEP) regional office has been located at Eastern Kentucky University, within the College of Education. In 2016, the statewide organization began accepting annual award nominations to recognize the hard work of regional staff in the following areas:

  • Regional or Local Education Agency Administrator
  • Regional or District Support Staff (e.g., regional clerks, interpreters, tutors)
  • Recruiter
  • Advocate
  • Exceptional Summer Staff
  • Rookie (less than 2 years of experience)
  • Veteran (7+ years of experience)

SKYMEP employees took home awards in the recruiter, exceptional summer staff and rookie categories.

Betty Perkins, outreach specialist, regional recruiter and advocate assistant, earned the Ann K. Bruce Recruiter of the Year award.  Perkins, who has been with SKYMEP since 2012, was noted for her ability to build relationships and her knowledge of program eligibility, resource availability, crop production timelines and the local farming community.

“These characteristics are not absolute but they do embody the characteristics of Betty Perkins,” said Program Director Michael Hay. “She has an innate ability to build rapport and trust with the families and staff she encounters. She relies on those relationships to help identify potential program participants and to meet the needs of the migrant children enrolled in the program.  We are very fortunate to have Betty on our team.”

Jeff Vincent, assistant director and regional advocate, was awarded the Exceptional Summer Staff award. Summer programming is vital to help migrant students refine their skills, prepare them for the next grade level, provide remediation and help them retain the knowledge they have been taught in the previous year.  To help facilitate that process, the region has operated a week-long, residential summer program for the past 15 years.  Called the KEYS Academy, it has been led by Vincent since 2013.

“As the KEYS Academy Director, Jeff develops the curriculum and schedule, coordinates the activities, organizes and trains staff, and markets the program to our migrant education program staff, students and parents across the region,” Hay said. “Jeff’s commitment and dedication to the students who attend the KEYS Academy is very evident in how students grow and develop. He understands the importance of summer learning to our migrant students and he works tirelessly to provide the best experience possible.”

Kelsey Flores was named Rookie of the Year. She began her role as a recruiter in SKYMEP in October of 2017, promoting the program on social media and working with community partners and school districts.  In that short time, she has recruited 73 new students into the Lincoln County program.

“Kelsey is flexible with her time and is committed to the care of and concern for the children and families she recruits,” Hay said. “Her work ethic and ability to build trust with families through shared experiences helped make her the ideal recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award.”

The Migrant Education Program was established by the United State Department of Education in 1966. The program is part of Title I Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and most recently reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.  The SKYMEP regional office serves all of EKU’s 22-county service region in addition to 14 other counties, and 51 total school districts.

Last year’s winners of the Kentucky Migrant Education Program’s statewide awards include project assistant and regional records clerk Sara Haney, who was honored with the Regional/LEA Support Staff of the Year award, and Hay, who was selected as the Regional/LEA Administrator of the Year. 

“The Southern Kentucky Migrant Education Program is very honored and humbled to have such recognition of staff working in our region,” Hay said. “Hard work, persistence and dedication is instilled in the core values of our regional staff.”