When Jackson County native McKenzie Peters was a student at Tyner Elementary School, she couldn’t have imagined someday being a Partners for Rural Impact legacy. Peters, who was a student during the first Promise Neighborhood grant, is the new Full-Service Community Schools Coordinator at Tyner. Peters’ employer, Partners for Rural Impact (formerly Partners for Education), oversees both Promise Neighborhood and FSCS in Appalachian Kentucky.
“I saw the job and thought, ‘I can make a difference in the lives of students in the same way Promise Neighborhood did for me,’” Peters said. “I would love to be that person for a child, and to give them the same opportunities that were given to me.”
As for the impact Promise Neighborhood had on her, Peters says the benefits were many. From field trips to folk arts, Promise Neighborhood made learning fun. It taught her about her Appalachian culture and the world beyond Jackson County. The arts programs were especially of interest to Peters, who discovered her passion and talent for acting. Other memorable activities included crafting rain sticks, making old-fashioned ice cream, and trips to the state capitol and the Berea Artisan Center (a place Peters recently got to revisit as part of a PRI staff event).
Perhaps most importantly, PRI’s programs have helped students like Peters navigate the path to college and beyond.
“When you’re from a rural area, college can be a culture shock,” Peters said. “Promise helped prepare me for college and new experiences by showing me there is more to discover.”
When asked why she chose to stay in Jackson County, Peters credits her passion for helping others and love for the community. She knows many of the students and families she serves personally. As a testament to the importance of place-based work, Peters says being a local makes her job more effective and rewarding.
Looking ahead, Peters says she is grateful and excited for her new role. One of Jackson County’s very own, Peters is thrilled to be supporting kids just like her on their own journeys to success.