Residents from Perry County and Knott County are working together to make a lifelong difference for children, and I had the opportunity to be part of it when I visited Hazard on April 19 for the Perry County Early Childhood Summit, hosted by the Save the Children. It was a chance for me to revisit this beautiful region of Kentucky that holds a special place in my heart.  The rolling, green hills of Kentucky were reminiscent of my mother’s former home in Korea, so she decided to make this state our new home after our first visit during my youth. 

My earliest memories of growing up in Kentucky are of the special people who helped my widowed mother and her two children settle into life in a small town in central Kentucky. Kind neighbors, church members, store clerks, teachers, and countless others offered comfort and support during our transition into a new community. Their kindness made all the difference to a poor family struggling with basic needs.

The importance of providing comfort and guidance during critical transition periods in life was the central message for the Early Childhood Summit. Many children moving into kindergarten from preschool or home will enter into a scary new environment full of strange faces. Providing emotional support and changing that frightening first day of kindergarten into a positive and exciting experience can have lifelong positive impact. Best of all, the formula for getting children happy and confident about school is simple – it is the parents, teachers, school staff, and the community who can make the difference. 

This was the message that I shared with school and community members, including those representing Hazard Independent, Perry County Schools and Knott County Schools who attended the Summit to learn about kindergarten readiness. I was thrilled to see so many people come together to make a positive difference for children who are just starting out of the gate on their long path to learning. 

I encourage you and your children to join the upcoming Kindergarten Kick-off Event on May 21 in Knott County and June 6 in Perry County. You can help make that first day of kindergarten, and beyond, a special experience that they will never forget. 

John Kim, E.D.,

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development 

For more information on how you can join the Kindergarten Kick-off Events, please contact the following Save the Children representatives: 

Perry County Schools, Daniel Combs —  (606) 436-3837

Hazard Independent, Helen Shoptaw — (606) 436-4721

Knott County, Justin Amburgey — (606) 785-3153

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