Johnson Central High School sees national spotlight for student success

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 8:37 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Johnson Central High School was named a Spotlight School by the GRAD Partnership, celebrating the space as a campus devoted to student success.

The school has been working with the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) Center since 2016, targeting the freshman classes to help them transition into the school and continue striving for success.

“You’re allowing these students to explore, figure out what they want to be,” said Assistant Superintendent Noel Crum. “By the time they graduate- our goal is- when they walk across the stage, they’ve got a plan for their future.”

Since the school provides more than 30 pathways to help students find their careers before they graduate, administrators say it is a perfect fit to work with the BARR method. Now, with the spotlight showing their success is being noticed by others, they hope more schools will consider adopting some of the innovative investments in education.

According to freshman class principal Marc Shepherd, the students find their own place in the school and it helps them develop a plan for whatever success is for them.

“They understand they’re not on an island. They have commonalities with students that maybe they didn’t know and even teachers that maybe they never would have believed,” Shepherd said.

The innovation and work to get students invested were celebrated by the GRAD Partnership this month when JCHS was recognized as one of four spotlight schools, which administrators say is a humbling honor.

“So, it’s really nice to get recognition- at a national level- for something that, you know, you’re proud of. And especially here in Appalachia,” said Crum. “We don’t get a lot of recognition sometimes for the great things that go on. So, from our perspective, it’s just been wonderful to let the world see all the great things are happening here at Johnson Central.”

Principal Justin Arms says the success did not come overnight. He said the devotion of the educators and students has created the system of success.

“We’re a small-town school, doing big time things,” he said. “Because of the intentionality of the administration to ensure that we provided the things for the teachers to implement to the students. Because of the intentionality of the students to be to be aware and invested and involved.”

You can find more information and updates from the school here and more about The GRAD Partnership here.