"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.
"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 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."