Santa isn't the only one who’s coming to town. Last week, Robbie and Lisa Rudolph visited four schools to give over 970 books to students in grades K-4 during the third annual Rudolph's Readers Program. In three years the Rudolph's have purchased and given away almost 3000 books to elementary students in the four school districts of Carlisle County, Fulton County, Hickman County and Fulton Independent as part of the Four River's Scholarship Program. Rudolph told the students that reading was very important to them and explained to the students and parents that the program was just the beginning as he and Lisa will continue to work with the schools to help the students prepare for college and ultimately a successful career through improved reading skills, career fairs, career exploration, dual credit classes, and scholarships for post-secondary education. Robbie was inspired to start this program from his relationship with former First Lady Glenna Fletcher’s “Read to Achieve Program”.
The Rudolphs also sponsor an ACT preparation program. All four schools have participated in the ACT preparation program given to the juniors in each school by Dr. Bobbie Weatherly, a retired MSU professor. For the second year, Dr. Weatherly has met with the high school faculty of each school and gone over tips with teachers to be used in the classrooms to better prepare the students for taking the ACT. Dr. Weatherly is scheduled to return for the second training this year during the fourth week of January and again in February and will work with the students preparing them for the test in March. Robbie and Lisa purchased 180 BARRON'S ACT Preparation Books for all of the juniors.
The Four Rivers Scholarship program partners with three area colleges and is currently working on several projects. MSU is working with Hickman County to follow up on a science summit. They will be using new teleconferencing equipment to interact with MSU professors on-campus and working with MSU professors on site to develop ways to better prepare students to read and analyze tables, charts, and graphs which are a major portion of the ACT science test.
MSU will also be offering a new HEA 101 class to four seniors at Fulton County this semester. It is a class that prepares students for college life. WKCTC also offers a similar class to students at Carlisle, Hickman, and the Fulton Co. ATC (Area Techical Center) through Trent Johnson, a former Hickman County graduate and employee of WKCTC. HEA 101 will be offered next year to all four schools for dual credit and a grade through Charlotte Bradshaw, the director of the Racer Academy at MSU. Mid-Continent sends a professor to Hickman County schools three times a week for a college algebra class.
WKCTC works with Fulton Independent and the City of Fulton's Fire Chief, Mike Gunn, to offer the First Responders/EMT class for juniors/seniors for a six hour dual credit class. A former Fulton Independent graduate, Dr. Jimmy Fisette, teaches the Intro to Health Science class at Fulton Independent.
Hickman CountySuperintendent Kenny Wilson and Assistant Superintendent Casey Henderson are working with MSU to establish a program that will assist teachers in obtaining their masters so additional dual credit classes can be taught at the high school students attend. "Our goal is to have students be able to earn 30 college hours by the time they graduate from the Falcon Academy, "explained Wilson. The other school districts are also working to have additional teachers trained to teach dual credit classes.
Fulton County ATC is now offering a welding program and the Four River's Foundation funds the welding certification test as well as certification test in the Information Technology and Health Sciences classes and other ATC courses. Recently, Robbie and Lisa Rudolph were recognized at the annual Fulton County ATC meeting for their support of the ATC program by ATC principal, Tom Pyron. "Robbie and Lisa have made a difference in our schools and we appreciate their support," stated Pryon during a recent visit the Rudolphs made to the school.
For the 2nd year, the Rudolphs help sponsor the dual credit programs at the four school districts. This spring semester 160 students will earn 1,644 dual credit college hours. The Four River's Scholarship Program has funded over $47,000 this year in dual credit classes and $40,000 last year The Falcon Academy at Hickman County High School has 49 students taking 328 dual credit courses for a total of 857 college credit hours. One hundred forty-five of these are from WKCTC through the Fulton County ATC, 78 are from Mid-Continent, 84 are from MSU, and 550 are from WKCTC.
The Falcon Academy offers 32 different dual credit courses and plans to add four additional courses next year for a total of 36 different dual credit classes available. Average number of hours for each senior is 17.5. Twenty-one seniors will graduate with over 20 college credit hours this year. Hickman County placed 3rd in the state this year in the state college and career readiness ranking. This is up from 140th last year.
The Comet Academy at Carlisle County High School has 64 students taking 483 hours of dual credit courses through the ATC, on campus at WKCTC and Murray State, and on-line through MSU Racer Academy with students averaging six hours each.
The Pilot Academy at Fulton County High School has 22 students taking 38 dual credit courses on-line through the MSU Racer Academy for a total of 114 hours. There are 41 students taking WKCTC courses through the Fulton County ATC for an additional 82 hours. That is 196 credit hours. The average number of college hours for each senior is six college hours.
The Bulldog Academy at Fulton High School has 25 students taking 36 dual credit courses and 108 dual credit college hours. Ten of these are at the ATC and 9 of them are EMT classes (6 hours dual credit paid by Four Rivers) eight are in WKCTC ENG 102 class taught on-site by a master level teacher, and the rest are a part of the on-line MSU Racer Academy classes and include MAT 150, PSY 110, POL 101 and CHE 101. These students will average six hours each this year.
The Four River's Scholarship Program has awarded over 146 scholarships to seniors in the last three years. These are awarded to students with need and who more than likely were not going to attend post secondary. “No student will be denied post secondary because of money,” states Rudolph. Some of these students have finished their trainings and are now entering the workforce. The program has also sponsored young adults in a certified nursing program offered at the WKCTC Skilled Training Center and graduated twelve students from that program.
Presently, there are 79 students who will receive scholarships this spring semester with 25 of the 79 being second year participants. These students will receive over $115,500 in scholarship funding from the Four Rivers Scholarship program this year for a total of over $350,000 for the whole progam the past two and a half years. Thirty five students are in their second year of post secondary training and their second year as scholarship recipients.
Owen feels that the program continues to work due to the support of the foundation members, school board members, superintendents, supervisors, principals, counselors, and teachers. The program owes a debt of thanks to "Kenny Wilson, Casey Henderson, Amy Boaz, Mindy Ames, Jay Simmons, Angel Thompson, Ellen Murphy and Tom Pyron for their continual work on this program. Their cooperation and concern for the students and their willingness to go above and beyond is keeping this program going full steam ahead. The foundation members are Chairman Jeff Campbell, Vice-Chair Brenda Mahan, Josh Bailey, Jay Simmons, Greg Curlin, Jeff Vaughn, and Marty Nichols. And of course, we cannot express enough appreciation to Robbie and Lisa Rudolph for caring about the children in these schools and being willing to give of their time, dozens of visits to the schools and resources, to truly make a difference. It's what the Christmas Spirit is all about."