Kentucky students to work side by side with research professionals

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 by Tom Martin

 Gatton Academy students among first Emperor of Science Award winners

dickenhaley “I believe the cure for cancer is in our future. “ That’s the positive outlook of Kentucky student Haley Dicken. She and fellow Kentucky student Makenzie Daniels have been selected from among 1,200 high school applicants throughout the nation as winners of the inaugural Emperor of Science Award.

The award program, inspired by the PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is designed to encourage high school students to explore careers in cancer research and care through a mentoring opportunity pairing them with leading research professionals in the field.

Dicken and Daniels are in their first year as students at Western Kentucky University’s Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.

“Not unlike most people, I have a family history of cancer in my family,” noted Daniels. “The particular cancer that sparks my interest is hereditary breast and ovarian cancer related to the BRCA genetic mutation. My father’s side of the family tested positive for the mutation and my paternal grandmother died due to ovarian cancer related to this gene.  Research in both treatments and prevention of cancer related to the genetic mutation is what I will be doing with my mentor.”


Daniels, a student researcher in the WKU department of biology’s Genome Discovery and Exploration Program, will be working with Dr. Shannon L. Puhalla, director, Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.  Dr. Puhalla is a medical oncologist and hematologist who specializes in breast oncology, Phase I clinical trials, and novel therapeutics in breast cancer.

Dr. Puhalla’s plans for Daniels’ 8-to-12-week research experience include the preparation of a manuscript outlining recent clinical trial findings. “It is a lot of work to compile and synthesize all of the clinical trial data into a paper. There is a lot of data analysis that goes into writing a paper and I think at her level she can assist with this but also learn what goes into a clinical trial and how we determine if there is safety and efficacy with a new drug.”

Dicken will be paired for 8-to-12 weeks with Dr. Natasha Kyprianou, the James F. Hardymon Chair in Urologic Research at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and a professor at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.  “Exposing the student to the rigorous research dynamic not only at UK but also from institutions across the nation will provide a monumental intellectual stimulation, strength to face challenges with determination and passion towards the cause of curing cancer,” said Dr. Kyprianou. “It will be a journey of inspiration, creativity and impact, all around.”

In addition to these invaluable research experiences, Daniels and Dicken will receive Google Chrome notebooks in support of their studies and $1,500 stipends for their expenses. They also will have the opportunity to continue the mentoring program throughout high school.

The award program is made possible by founding donors Genetech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Novartis and through partners Stand Up to Cancer and PBS Learning Media.

Dicken senses that she has entered the ground floor of a career with historic potential. “This is an exciting field of study to be in, as it has been suggested in the world of cancer research that our generation may be the generation to discover the cure for cancer.”

Everyday Learning Training

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 by Tom Martin

EarlyLearningTraining  50% of Kentucky preschoolers are not prepared for kindergarten

“Everything that we’ve learned here today will make a difference in children’s lives.” Charity Johnson was thinking about the preschoolers in her care and the support she discovered one recent Saturday at Louisville’s First Gethsemane Baptist Church.

Charity, owner of Kids ‘R Us Enrichment & Development Center, was among more than 60 preschool directors and caregivers from low-income neighborhoods in Louisville taking advantage of free Early Childhood training offered by KET.

Through the Everyday Learning grant provided by the James Graham Brown and PNC Foundations and in partnership with the National Center for Families Learning and Metro United Way, KET has created an expansive collection of Everyday Learning videos, interactives and classroom activities using original animation and images to introduce basic concepts of math, science, health, social studies and art to students in preschool through first grade.

Each educator leaves a training session with a curriculum toolkit, conveniently organized in binders, offering lesson plans and training materials. “Oh gosh, yeah! Going through and doing lesson plans is a lot of work,” said an excited and relieved Lana Albin, a caregiver at the MiniVersity in downtown Louisville. “This is all put together.”

“We try really hard to make the sessions interactive and fun, letting the teachers participate in some of the activities in the binders so they can see how easy it can be to implement them into their classrooms,” noted Amanda Wright, KET’s Early Childhood Education Manager. “It’s unbelievable how many amazing resources teachers and families just don’t know about. All of these things can be used to get the kids in Jefferson County and across the state ready for kindergarten.”

Kindergarten readiness is a powerful indicator of whether a child succeeds in life. Established reports say 50 percent of Kentucky preschoolers are unprepared for kindergarten. Additional pilot data released by the Kentucky Department of Education, however, indicates the unprepared rate is reaching 70 percent. The KET Everyday Learning training program responds to this disturbing trend, offering childcare providers in under-served neighborhoods the tools and knowledge they need to ensure that they are preparing children in their care to begin the learning process that will carry them through their teens and into adulthood.

At the First Gethsemane session, KET Early Childhood Education Consultant Eamonn FitzGerald led an “Art to Heart” class on the ways music, dance, drama, literature, and the visual arts can capture and inspire young minds and connect with other critical areas of learning. “We’re able to give early childhood providers specific ideas, activities, resources and consumables that they could literally leave the session with and do the activity with the kids they teach.”

“I do see the connection,” said Dr. Annette Bridges, Director of the First Gethsemane Child Development Center. “This gives a foundation for early math, literacy; not just physical and fine motor development but self-concept and social/emotional development.”

Caregivers each left the day’s training sessions with a tote bag bulging with materials including books, construction paper, dancing scarves and other tools. In all, more than $5,000 worth of materials was provided.

Charity Johnson has experienced her fair share of preschool caregiver training programs. “If it was a one out of ten, “she said of the KET Everyday Learning program, “ I would definitely give it a ten.”

For more information go to KET Early Childhood Education Professional Development.

2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 by Tom Martin

PBSLM Digital InnovatorsKentucky educators who excel at using technology and digital media to support student learning are being encouraged to enter to be named a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. KET and PBS have announced the 4th annual program in which K-12 teachers and administrators are recognized for their creative use of digital media in the classroom.

“KET is an efficient and effective partner in K-12 education, providing engaging media resources for every Kentucky classroom,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director and CEO. “We’re especially proud to recognize and partner with innovative educators who are using digital media in order to improve student achievement.”

PBS LearningMedia, provided in Kentucky as a part of KET EncycloMedia, offers digital tools on-demand for educators, including more than 3000 resources produced by KET as a leading national producer. In Kentucky, over 85,200 teachers, parents, students, and educators have viewed more than 1.8 million resources since 2013.

All educators who meet the entry requirements, follow the guidelines and submit their application to the Digital Innovators Program will be rewarded with year-long professional development opportunities. These include virtual trainings on digital best practices, access to exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia, invitations to special events, a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course, networking opportunities and ongoing support from KET’s education consultants, who provide hands-on digital media training to teachers statewide.

The call for entries closes February 8, 2016. Educators should submit a 60- to 120-second video to showcase their innovative use of digital technology in their classroom to inspire students. Entrants should also complete a profile and answer two essay questions. The PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators’ application is available at

A panel of esteemed judges will select one educator from each state throughout the U.S, its territories and the District of Columbia as Lead Innovators. The Lead Innovators will receive a three-day, all-expense paid trip to Denver, Colorado, to participate in the 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Summit and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Attendance at these conferences will provide the Lead Innovators the opportunity to meet with and listen to renowned speakers, experts and educators like themselves, to discuss technology in the classroom and learn how to maximize the benefits of using new technologies in the classroom. All Lead Innovators will receive a Samsung Galaxy(R) tablet.

Kentucky’s 2015 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovators are:

·         Susan Cintra, Madison Central High School, Richmond (Lead PBS Digital Innovator)

·         James Allen, Oldham County High School, Goshen (Local PBS Digital Innovator)

·         Jennifer Montgomery, Eminence Independent Schools, Eminence (Local PBS Digital Innovator)

·         Kate Wintuska, Jody Richards Elementary School, Bowling Green (Local PBS Digital Innovator)

The 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will be announced in March. For more information on KET’s PBS LearningMedia service in Kentucky, visit

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951