Hazard Independent Schools named one of twelve Bright Spots

24 September 2019 - Lacey Roberts (WYMT)

Twelve Kentucky school districts were named 'Bright Spots' in a new report by The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics.

One of the districts included is Hazard Independent Schools.

Superintendent Sondra Combs says she is proud to call Eastern Kentucky home. "Growing up here a lot of times people think, oh Eastern Kentucky, you know, they can't do as well," she said. But Hazard Independent proved those stereotypes wrong with high achievement scores.

Each district is chosen to be a 'Bright Spot' based on their performance at higher levels than expected. These reports identify the key factors that affect academic achievement and put together hypothesis' to suggest the outcome level of productivity and performance through state assessments.

Combs says the productivity can be easily defined through the care the staff takes.

"They want to find the needs of the students and if there is a need they work hard to find the resources to make sure they get what they need to be successful," she said. "The way the economics are here, we are in a low economic area. We pride ourselves in taking care of every student. We want them to go to college. But we want them to come back."

Life Sciences teacher, Brittany Wolfe attended Transylvania University with the intent of coming back to Hazard.

"It was a culture shock. I excelled. And I feel like it was mostly due to the rigor that I was put through here," said Wolfe. "I wanted to come back home and see what I could give to the place that made me who I was."

Combs says having teachers from the Appalachian region give students a sense of pride. "Rather than people who are not from here, move here because we are invested in this. This is a person who was born here, raised here, lived here and to some of these kids that is the only personal relationship that they get," she said.

The principal of Hazard High School, Happy Mobelini, says he has had the confidence all along, "We have always known we are as good as everybody else in Eastern Kentucky just other people did not know it yet."

All districts chosen as 'Bright Spots' are:
- Barbourville Independent
- Fleming County
- Grayson County
- Hickman County
- Jenkins Independent
- Monroe County
- Paintsville Independent
- Pineville Independent
- Robertson County
- Somerset Independent
- Woodford County

Scores were based on K-PREP reading and math assessments while high school students on the ACT. While student community and district characteristics were taken into consideration.