Educators now have a new tool to help fight rising high school dropout rates in Kentucky and encourage students to stay in school and plan for their future careers.

Forward in the Fifth and the Center for Rural Development are launching a new dropout prevention video and discussion guide, the “Stay in School Toolkit,” which shares candid stories of eight individuals from rural Appalachia and how choices they made positively — and in some cases negatively — impacted their education and future.

The video subjects, including a professional baseball player, successful entrepreneur, Kentucky National Guard sergeant and district court judge, talk about how they used education to advance their career goals. Conversely, students will also see a candid message from a person serving prison time, cautioning them against squandering opportunities to further their education.

A discussion guide also is included with the resource that encourages students to freely discuss messages in the video sessions and how those situations apply to their lives.

Starting in February, Forward in the Fifth and the center will host a series of free training sessions in the region for educators and local leaders interested in using the “Stay in School Toolkit” in their community to help lower dropout rates.

The training sessions will take place at the following locations: 

  • Feb. 3 at Lindsey Wilson College, Columbia
  • Feb. 7 at the Center for Rural Development, Somerset
  • Feb. 16 at the Forum at the Hal Rogers Center (in front of Hazard High School)
  • Feb. 24 at the University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg
  • Feb. 28 the Mountain Arts Center, Prestonsburg
  • March 20 (tentatively scheduled) at Morehead State University

To pre-register for these sessions, visit online and complete the registration form. All participants must pre-register prior to any of the scheduled sessions. Session times will be determined based on the number of participants, and registrants will be notified of those times. Attendance at one of the regional training sessions is required before a school can receive and use the video and discussion guide.

For more information about Forward in the Fifth or the “Stay in School Toolkit,” call (606) 677-6000 or e-mail