There are similar programs in other parts of the country, but statistics show they have not been as successful as the Appalachian model, which prompted Bement's visit to Nicholasville.
"I am here primarily to understand why the Appalachian program and the other rural systemic initiative has been so successful when school districts in other parts of the country, where they have many more resources and get much more funding, why they are struggling whereas they are succeeding here," Bement said.
Bement met with a group of science teachers looking for the answer, and to get feedback from them on what was working well at the school and also what the partnership could do in the future to help them better serve the needs of their students.
Bement also got a first hand look at how the training from the partnership is being used in the classroom, observing science teacher Darren Norman conduct a lab for his eighth grade integrated science class.
Norman was teaching the class about Newton's first law, a rather sophisticated concept, using Hot Wheels cars, balls of clay and a ramp and making it fun for the students in the process.
Bement said it was that kind of innovative thinking and hands on learning that was one reason the partnership was so successful in the Kentucky schools.
"I think the important fact to note is that you can do a lot of experiments that are very simple and inexpensive by being innovative," Bement said. "The teacher is telling, and showing them why it is important to know this and how they can apply it to their everyday life. It takes innovative teachers who have an interest in not only teaching their students science but doing it in such a way that the students learn by hands on experimentation. It's not all just out of a textbook."
Norman said the partnership has been invaluable for teachers to be able to meet the different need of their students.
"Partnerships like this gives us ideas for teaching the kids effectively, gives us resources to work with that just makes us better teachers and allows us to give the kids a better education," Norman said. "I want to do hands-on with the kids and they love it. We have a lot of kids in this community that are hands-on kids and they love tinkering with things so anytime we can have the resources to do that it will just be better for the kids."
Bement said the students benefit from this type of learning now and would continue benefiting from it in the future.
"The beneficiaries are going to be the students themselves, who are going to be our future workforce. That will translate into economic development, better quality of life and a much better future for some of these young people than they might otherwise get," Bement said.
Norman credited the success of the program in part to the teacher's ability of finding ways of making the grant money go long way.
"We appreciate the funding we get and we try to make it as good for the kids as possible. Maybe in some of the other places where they have more funding, they probable went in a different direction with their instruction," Norman said.
Felicia Roher, director of curriculum for the Jessamine County Schools said the grant had allowed teachers to develop a deeper content understanding and improve instructional methods and to bring those methods back to the classroom.
Bement said his goal was to be able to take what is working well in the Appalachian program and implement it in other areas of the country.
"Lessons have been learned, best practices have been exposed and they are well understood, so there is a template here. The challenge is taking these lessons learned and best practices and applying it across the state in all districts," Bement said. "So how do we take this spark of what has been learned and the evidence that it has been very effective and take that spark and make it into a brush fire? That's what we are trying to do."