Jeff Hawkins

Neon, Letcher County, Kentucky

Photo: Jeff Hawkins

I am a native of Neon, Kentucky, and a high school English teacher and coach. I am a Kentucky Distinguished Educator, the director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a district administrator and a former Kentucky Artist in Education. Outside of my career in education, I am a member of Roadside Theater and Appalshop, Inc., a co-founder of the Appalachian Media Institute and the director of the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative.

What Jeff hopes to accomplish through the AAN:

I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse perspectives about our region and the ability to learn from folk engaged in similar work.

What he’d like to see happen during the first 100 days of the next presidential administration:

Conversations — real conversations not just stating opinion or picking a side — about the very issues that create division and block equity and equality for people in general and students in particular. 

Jeff’s advice for journalists who want to cover Appalachia:

Appreciate the fact that Appalachia is diverse. Misconceptions about folks in this region are pervasive. Take time to listen to understand that people here are for the most part trusting and compassionate and creative and hopeful. Hope is built on engaged agency and trust in self and community. Schools in Appalachia are doing exception work, and we have the data and stories to prove that.