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Bill Gates features his ‘learning visit’ to Betsy Layne High School in Floyd County in recent blog

By Tim Mandell
The Rural Blog

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a champion of improving education in rural and underserved areas, is featuring his November visit to an Eastern Kentucky high school as the main story on his blog, gatesnotes. The blog includes several posts about the visit he made with his wife Melinda to Betsy Layne High School in Floyd County

“Gates wrote that what he found most inspiring about the youth in Eastern Kentucky was their dedication to the region and its future,” Jackson Latta reports for the Floyd County Times. During the “learning visit” on Nov. 5, Gates interviewed faculty and students and spoke to the entire student body via the intercom.

Bill Gates wrote about his visit to a school in Floyd County in a recent blog (Wikimedia Photo)

Bill Gates wrote about his visit to a school in Floyd County in a recent blog (Wikimedia Photo)

“Gates said innovative new classrooms created at Betsy Layne created a stimulating, modern learning environment,” Latta writes. Gates Foundation representatives also “interviewed the Young Professional Forum that consisted of college students and former graduates outside the field of education who left the region to attend college and returned here to work” Gates wrote about Floyd native Lakeisha Crum’s quest to be the first person in her family to attend college.

In one post, Gates wrote: “During our visit, Melinda and I never spotted a teacher just standing in front of the class lecturing while the students just sat and listened. Instead, students were the ones doing the most work. They were actively engaged, sharing their ideas, solving problems and, as a result, learning. Weeks after my visit, I still remember all the lessons vividly.”

In another post he wrote: “Over pepperoni pizza and soda, we talked about what it’s like to grow up in Eastern Kentucky and what their plans are for the future. One of the students we met was Lakeisha Crum. She’s a senior at the high school. A stellar student and volleyball player, Lakeisha will be the first person in her family to go to college.”

“Being a teenager is an exciting time in everyone’s life. It can also be quite hard. (I know. I’m the father of three of them and a former teenager myself.),” Gates wrote. “You’re just starting to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life. For decades in Eastern Kentucky, the coal mines provided young people with answers to those questions. The pay was good. Work was steady. You could stay close to home, raise a family and build a career. But the collapse of the coal industry left behind a giant void. Now, many students are filling it with education. Instead of going to the mines, they are going to college.”

From The Rural Blog, by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications.

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