'It Takes a Village:' The Whole Child Approach in Letcher County

For Mandy Wynn, returning to the world of academia to pursue her GED and higher education sparked a passion and purpose for serving her community. She now embodies that purpose every day in her role as Student Success Navigator at Jenkins Middle High School in Letcher County, Kentucky.

Wynn fosters positive relationships with students through mentoring, advising, leadership and role modeling.

“When students feel successful or positive about themselves, or when they have that ‘aha!’ moment during an activity, you can see the spark of creativity, or a seed being planted for the love of learning,” Wynn said. “That is when I feel most accomplished. Their success is what makes me feel successful.”



Wynn uses the whole child approach in her work, an effort that requires close collaboration with a variety of community partners. Working with local businesses, community colleges, and other organizations, Wynn has successfully implemented enriching learning opportunities such as career fairs and family engagement events.

“We have all heard the saying, ‘It takes a village,’ and we are fortunate to have so many that want to ensure that ‘All Rural Students Succeed’,” Wynn said, referring to the PRI result.

One shining example of the whole village in action is the community’s response to the devastating floods of summer 2022. Wynn witnessed people coming together to ensure no need went unmet, with hot meals, clean clothes, water, and other supplies for those affected, a testament to the resilience and grit of her mountain community.

Strong community partnerships and sustainability go hand in hand in creating the future Wynn envisions for her students.

“I hope that my service will inspire new generations of dreamers, doers, and leaders,” Wynn said. “That they will choose to return to our mountain home while building on foundations that our work is currently creating. My role is ensuring that through community and school-based partnerships, teamwork, leadership, mentoring, positive role-modeling, and navigating pathways for success, the students of today will become the leaders of tomorrow.”

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