Operation UNITE’s Service Corps initiative continues to expand its impact across southern and eastern Kentucky.

With the infusion of supplemental funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service, UNITE now employs 44 full-time AmeriCorps members to serve elementary schools in 11 school systems.

“Last year we had 28 AmeriCorps members, but several members had to split their time between two schools,” said Eugene Newsome, director of the Service Corps initiative. “This year each member is employed at a single school, which will increase their effectiveness and impact within the school community.”

Because of the program’s growth, UNITE has added veteran educator Nancy Hale as co-coordinator of the initiative, said Debbie Trusty, UNITE’s education director. Hale recently retired as a school counselor with the Rockcastle County Public Schools.

“Nancy has been a phenomenal asset to UNITE through her work with both the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition and school UNITE Clubs,” Trusty said. “She will easily step in to this position and bring an expertise that few can match.”

This is the fifth year UNITE has received funding for its Service Corps initiative, that provides math tutoring, teaches the “Too Good for Drugs” and “Healthy Futures/Take 10” wellness curriculums, and coordinates anti-drug UNITE Clubs at each location. In addition, members provide thousands of hours of volunteer service and recruit volunteers for school prevention activities.

Each participating school contributes $5,500 toward the salary of their AmeriCorps member. Upon completion of one or two years of service, members are eligible for a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award that can be used to pay back student loans or cover tuition costs.

“We have witnessed phenomenal success because of our dedicated Service Corps members,” Newsome stated. “We have consistently exceeded our goals.”

Statistics from the 2011-12 school year reflect the impact:

• 1,751 students completed the 10-lesson “Too Good For Drugs” curriculum, which focuses on resistance skills, role-playing and decision-making skills to avoid using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Post-test scores in drug education information increased 40 percent.

• 1,412 volunteers were recruited to assist with activities (a 187 percent increase).

• 12,514 hours of volunteer service were provided by Service Corps members to the schools and communities they serve (a 263 percent increase). Many hours were logged in helping recovery efforts following the March 2 tornado outbreak.

• 2,507 younger students were mentored by older students in drug education, prevention and resistance strategies (a 329 percent increase).

• 1,351 students were tutored in mathematics (a 137 percent increase), with test scores increasing 36 percent over the course of the year.

• 1,751 students participated in the “Healthy Futures/Take 10” wellness programs, with test scores increasing 35 percent.

• Service Corps members conducted 99 educational presentations to community organizations.

• 32 anti-drug UNITE Clubs were sponsored by Service Corps members. There were approximately 2,200 student members of these clubs.

The UNITE Service Corps initiative has been honored with the “Governor’s Citation” for its excellent leadership and service in each of the past two years – a feat that Eileen Cackowski, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), noted was unprecedented.

The KCCVS, located within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, oversees the AmeriCorps programs in the state.

Below is a listing of the 2012-13 Service Corps members by school system. Three positions have yet to be filled.

Bell County
Tabatha Brock Yellow Creek School Center
Aleisha Lewis Page School Center
Amelia Miracle Bell Central School Center
Breathitt County
Clint Lively Rousseau Elementary
Jamie Mullins-Smith Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary
Larry Noble Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary
Arlina Spencer Highland-Turner Elementary
To be named Will assist with two schools
Harlan County
Ada Asher Green Hills Elementary
Ryan Colby French Rosspoint Elementary
Shelly Jones Cumberland Elementary
Jeremy Smith J.A. Cawood Elementary
Johnson County
Anna Burton Meade Elementary
Paula Campbell W.R. Castle Elementary
Amy Chapman Central Elementary
Carrie Dani Hall Flat Gap Elementary
Kayla Ritz Highland Elementary
Amanda Skaggs Porter Elementary
Knott County
To be named Carr Creek Elementary
Laurel County
Bianca Hawkins Hunter Hills Elementary
Walt Kilburn Cold Hill Elementary
Courtney New Bush Elementary
To be named Hunter Hills Elementary
Leslie County
AnnDraia Bales Hayes Lewis Elementary
Christy Collins Mountain View Elementary
LaRonda Hoskins Stinnett Elementary
Jennifer Napier W.B. Muncy Elementary
Paintsville Independent
Robyn Ward Paintsville Elementary
Perry County
Ricky Baker R.W. Combs Elementary
Felicia Johnson A.B. Combs Elementary
Pike County
Amber Anderson Kimper Elementary
Bethany Belcher Valley Elementary
CaSondra Casey Majestic-Knox Creek Elementary
Whitney Compton Millard School
Celia Damron Feds Creek Elementary
Christie Edmonds Dorton Elementary
Dezeree Garrett Mullins School
Kandace Hensley Phelps Elementary
Hope Masters Southside Elementary
Heather McPeek Elkhorn City Elementary
Scott Stanley Johns Creek Elementary
Wolfe County
SueAnna Cable Rogers Elementary
Belinda Ferguson Red River Valley Elementary
Stacy Johnson Campton Elementary