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The Achievement Gap

A report by a working group of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence found hat despite educational progress in Kentucky, academic achievement gaps still persist. Renee speaks with Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee, and Dr. C.B. Akins, pastor and Prichard Committee study group co-chair, about the report findings and recommendations on a path forward.
Season 12 Episode 5 Length 28:01 Premiere: 10/07/16

Closing the Academic Achievement Gap

The recently released Kentucky Department of Education’s accountability scorecard shows that the state’s public schools continue to make significant gains. College and career readiness scores increased to 68.5 percent, and more than 800 schools are now classified as either proficient or distinguished.

And while student proficiency scores also increased across a range of subjects and grade levels, significant disparities in performance persist.

“How well the school is doing is only determined by how well your lowest-achieving students are doing,” says Rev C.B. Akins, co-chair of a Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence study group on achievement gaps.

Akins and the Prichard Committee Executive Director Brigitte Blom Ramsey appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss achievement disparities and the group’s call for a refocused commitment from lawmakers, educators, and citizens to address the problem.

The Gaps Begin in Kindergarten
Ramsey says achievement gaps can occur among students based on race, socio-economic level, learning abilities, and whether English is their native language. Those factors combined with Kentucky’s high poverty rates put 70 percent of Kentucky students at risk of poor educational performance, according to the Prichard Committee’s Excellence with Equity report.

The study also found that achievement gaps become apparent as early as the first days of kindergarten. Akins says a child’s vocabulary and desire to read and learn are both based on the child’s home environment. So when they enter kindergarten they may already start at a disadvantage. He says their teachers must be able to identify the challenges each child faces as well as the strengths that their home and cultural backgrounds may give them.

“That’s what a good educator does,” says Akins. “We start with every child where he or she is and emphasize their strengths and teach them to overcome whatever weaknesses they may have.”

A screening test should be administered to all children shortly after they enter kindergarten, according to Ramsey. She says poor performance on the test should alert teachers that a child may need further assessment to determine what may be needed to be successful in school. She says even kindergarteners can recognize when they lag behind their peers, and that can impact their emotional and educational development.

“If we allow that to persist, then it’s going to be natural that the achievement gap is then going to not only persist but widen over time,” Ramsey says. “It’s going to snowball.”

Diversity and Learning
As a student advances through school, their progress may be hindered by challenges at home as well as stereotypes in the classroom. For example the report says African American students are suspended four times more often than white students and three times more likely to be given in-school detention.

“We don’t have the same expectations for black boys that we do for white boys” Akins says. “So those expectations cause a teacher to have some presuppositions about learning abilities, and so we’ve got to try to remove those.”

Instead of labeling a child “at risk,” Akins says teachers should learn to see their students as “at promise” and provide them with a learning environment that will allow them to move at the pace they need to reach excellence.

Diversity – or lack thereof – also comes into play in how students see themselves and their future life opportunities. While 21 percent of Kentucky students come from minority populations, only 5 percent of teachers in state classrooms do, according to the report. That means many students never learn from a teacher of color. As a result Akins and Ramsey say children miss out on a broader range of cultural experiences and they rarely see themselves reflected in their instructors.

“Whether that is a white girl from Appalachia or an African American boy from western Kentucky, children should be able to look at adults and see themselves and see themselves realizing their potential,” Ramsey says.

Diversifying Kentucky’s public school teaching corps will take intentional effort, according to Akins. The Prichard Committee report says state schools would have to hire nearly 3,000 African American teachers and more than 3,900 teachers of Hispanic and other racial backgrounds to equitably reflect the diversity of the student population.

Access to Advanced Classes
How children learn and whether they speak English as a second language also impacts their educational success. Akins says all children are able to learn and that it’s wrong to assume that students with a learning difficulty cannot be successful. The report also notes that African American and Hispanic students are far less likely to be identified as gifted and talented.

Akins recommends that a greater range of students be allowed into advanced placement programs (AP) because students tend to achieve more when more is expected of them.

Ramsey points to such an effort called Advance Kentucky, which seeks to let students participate in AP classes based on their desire to do so. She says the five-year old program also seeks to give those students the tools and attention they need to be successful in those classes.

A Moral and Economic Imperative
The Prichard Committee offers a lengthy list of recommendations to help schools and teachers get back to what the report calls the BASICS: Bold leadership, accountability, school climate and culture, instruction, community support, and sustainability. Their suggestions include a call to set ambitious goals to achieve excellence more equitably, better supports for Kentucky’s most vulnerable students, more culturally response teaching techniques, and more high quality early child care and education opportunities,

Akins says it will take a collective effort of educators, parents and citizens, the faith community, and business leaders to make the changes outlined in the report. Ramsey says she’s encouraged that Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt and state legislators are committed to reversing achievement gaps. She says doing so will benefit all Kentuckians.

“There’s clearly a moral imperative,” Ramsey says. “But beyond that moral imperative, there’s an economic imperative. If Kentucky were to increase all students up to a basic level of proficiency in the state, it would result in $335 billion [added] to our gross domestic product. So lifting all children up and ensuring that they are ready to be successful and have the support to do that is going to serve us well.”

A recent report by a working group of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence finds that despite educational progress in Kentucky, academic achievement gaps still persist for kids of color, students from low-income households, those with learning differences, and children who are learning English. Renee speaks with Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee, and Dr. C.B. Akins, pastor and Prichard Committee study group co-chair, about the report findings and recommendations on a path forward.

Sponsored by:

The "Let's Learn Kentucky" logo in white on a teal background, the copy, "An easy-to-navigate resource hub for parents and caregivers", and an illustration of a child stacking letter blocks A to E, along with a button that says, "Learn More".The "Let's Learn Kentucky" logo in white on a teal background, the copy, "This easy-to-navigate resource hub for parents and caregivers focuses on a child's early years -- an especially important developmental time.", and an illustration of a child stacking letter blocks A to E, along with a button that says, "Learn More".

Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 08/25/17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/18/17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 08/11/17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 08/04/17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 07/28/17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/14/17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 07/07/17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/30/17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 06/23/17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 06/16/17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 06/09/17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 06/02/17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 05/26/17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/22/17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/12/17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 05/09/17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/24/17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 04/14/17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 03/24/17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/24/17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 02/17/17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 02/10/17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/03/17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/27/17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/20/17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/13/17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/06/17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12/16/16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12/09/16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11/18/16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/11/16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/04/16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10/28/16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10/21/16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10/14/16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/07/16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 09/30/16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 09/23/16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 09/15/16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 09/09/16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge

Premiered On: 06/23/2017

What does it take to be a good leader? Renee speaks with Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams, the creators of the High Impact Leadership Project that helps people build their leadership prowess. Then, life coach Colene Elridge discusses her workplace trainings on communication, generational understanding, empowering women in leadership roles, and self-care.

  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
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Walter Gilliam

Premiered On: 07/07/2017

Renee's guest is Pikeville, Kentucky native Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and associate professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Gilliam has done extensive research in early childhood education and intervention policy analysis and talks about his research on implicit bias among preschool educators. He was a keynote speaker at Kentucky's 2017 Early Childhood Institute conference in Louisville.

  • Thursday December 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kayla Rae Whitaker

Premiered On: 07/14/2017

Renee's guest is Mt. Sterling native and author Kayla Rae Whitaker, one of the writers featured at the 2017 Kentucky Women Writers Conference at the University of Kentucky. Whitaker's debut novel, "The Animators", explores the complexities of female friendships, self-identity, and success in the male-dominated field of animation.

  • Friday December 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel

Premiered On: 06/06/2021

Renee Shaw talks with restaurateur and culinary artist Ouita Michel about her first cookbook, Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places, which features some favorite recipes of her restaurant patrons.

  • Saturday December 10, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Connections

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Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Premiered On: 08/04/2017

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, talks about Governor Bevin's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, how the cabinet is responding to the opioid addiction crisis, and recruiting and retaining social workers.

  • Monday December 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Jeff Hawkins and Robert Brown

Premiered On: 08/11/2017

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) serves 21 school districts in southeast Kentucky. Renee speaks with Jeff Hawkins, executive director, and Robert Brown, professional learning lead, of KVEC.

  • Tuesday December 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Carol Peachee

Premiered On: 08/18/2017

Photographer Carol Peachee discusses her books, including "The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries" that captures lost distilleries and those undergoing renewal. Peachee is also a pioneer in the integrative health field with decades of clinical experience in counseling, mindfulness practices, and internal arts. She is the founder of the Center for Mindful Living Practices.

  • Wednesday December 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Sam Quinones

Premiered On: 09/01/2017

Renee speaks with journalist Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and other books. A reporter for almost 30 years, Quinones lived and worked as a freelance writer in Mexico and is a former reporter for the LA Times.

  • Thursday December 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

  • Friday December 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

  • Sunday December 18, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Premiered On: 09/22/2017

Renee sits down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a wide-ranging, one-on-one interview. Filmed at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Chao discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation's involvement in emergency response and rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, plans to address the nation's transportation infrastructure, and other issues.

  • Monday December 19, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Steve Beshear

Premiered On: 09/29/2017

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear discusses his new book, "People Over Politics", that covers the tests and triumphs of his administration from 2007-2015. He talks about embracing the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid in Kentucky, his philosophical evolution on same-sex marriage, his unsuccessful struggle with advancing expanded gambling, the persistent plight of funding public employee pensions, among other issues.

  • Tuesday December 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

Renee's guest Gordon Hamlin, president of Pro Bono Public Pensions and a retired attorney, offers ideas about how to fix Kentucky's ailing public pension systems. Hamlin recommends that Kentucky transition to a shared risk pension plan: longer working careers, elimination of cost of living adjustments, and transition to career average formula.

  • Wednesday December 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Premiered On: 10/20/2017

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention with Julie Cerel, a professor, licensed clinical psychologist, and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also talks with Courtney Parr, who shares her powerful and inspiring journey to better mental health.

  • Thursday December 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner

Premiered On: 11/03/2017

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams and State Rep. Addia Wuchner, chairs of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health and Family Services committees, respectively, discuss upcoming health care issues that will be addressed during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly.

  • Friday December 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help change the story of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect. Renee Shaw talks with the executive director of CASA of Lexington, Melynda Jamison, about what CASAs do, the training they need, and why their work is so vital.

  • Sunday December 25, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House

Premiered On: 11/17/2017

Lexington plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Moore talks about Surgery on Sunday, providing outpatient essential surgical services at no cost to income-eligible, uninsured or underinsured individuals. Then, Kelly Duffy talks about Bluegrass Families First (BFF), a non-profit that provides opportunities for early childhood development, adult education, and other services helping Lexington families move toward self-sufficiency. BFF supports three organizations: The Family Care Center; The Nest Center for Women, Children, and Families; and One Parent Scholar House. Mirsada Simic talks about One Parent Scholar House and its Child Development Center with a 5-star curriculum program.

  • Monday December 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk

Premiered On: 12/15/2017

Renee's guest is Rus Funk, a consultant on gender equity, anti-racism, and violence prevention. He serves on the board of the National Center on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Funk talks about the spate of sexual harassment charges that have dominated news headlines and offers advice on helping men learn how to modify their behavior to create a professional and respectful work environment.

  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

Novelist, activist, and educator Silas House discusses his book to be released later this year that focuses on parenthood, his work as an advocate for environmental and gender equity causes, and other topics.

  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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DV8 Kitchen

Premiered On: 01/19/2018

Renee visits DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Lexington that provides second chance employment opportunities for people in substance recovery who are trying to redirect their lives. She speaks with Rob and Diane Perez about their vision for the restaurant and its support from the community. Renee also talks with employees at the eatery to hear their stories of recovery and how DV8 Kitchen helps them.

  • Thursday December 29, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

Dr. Gerald Smith, a history professor at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia", joins Renee to discuss race relations in honor of Black History Month. Topics include activism around removing Confederate statues, the status of black leadership in Kentucky, and Dr. Smith's thoughts on the needed response from the faith-based community in eradicating racism.

  • Friday December 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Bob Jackson - Murray State University

Murray State University is celebrating its centennial birthday this year. Renee Shaw talks to the president of MSU, Bob Jackson, about his presidency, career, and a new book he has co-authored, entitled "The Finest Place We Know: A Centennial History of Murray State University, 1922-2022."

  • Sunday January 1, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Educational Innovation

Premiered On: 02/16/2018

Educational innovation in the mountains is leading to a teaching and learning renaissance in southeast Kentucky. Renee and her guests, Dr. Dessie Bowling, associate director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and Rose Shields, rural project manager for the Center for Excellence in Rural Health at the University of Kentucky, discuss recent innovative education practices in the region.

  • Monday January 2, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Premiered On: 04/06/2018

"Connections" remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Renee speaks with organizers of a commemorative event in Frankfort and shares highlights from speeches at the MLK Memorial March to Move.

  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

In part one, Renee speaks with Keith Inman with Kosair Charities and Dr. Jennifer Green, University of Louisville Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellow about Kosair Charities Face It Movement that provides resources for parents and caregivers on child abuse. In part two, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, talks about legislation passed in the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly that benefits children and families.

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Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

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Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

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Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

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Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

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