The mission of The David School is to provide a comprehensive educational program for Appalachian high school dropouts and at risk youths who have limited financial resources and the potential to succeed in a non-traditional setting. Through individualized attention, we give our students the opportunity to experience success and to serve their community.
Original site of The David School.
In a region where the public school dropout rates exceeds the national rate and where more than 50 percent of the adult population are dropouts, there must be some success stories. One is The David School, a multi-faceted educational network that attempts to address some of the educational and social problems of the area.
Founded in 1974 in a deteriorating building in a nearly abandoned coal mining community, the school has grown to provide services to preschoolers, at-risk teens, and adults who are either illiterate or in need of GED instruction. In its quarter century, the high school has enrolled close to 2,000 dropouts and youth that are at high risk of dropping out. Scores have learned to read and several thousand more have studied for the GED in programs led by The David School.
Graduating Class from 1990.
Shop Class in 1986
The school is located in the small community of David, from which it takes its name. David was once what is commonly called a “coal camp” in western Floyd County in Kentucky’s economically depressed Appalachian region. When deep mining operations ceased, the coal company left the area, and its holdings were eventually bought by the newly formed, community-based David Community Development Corporation.
The founders of the school, three individuals concerned about the plight of young dropouts, incorporated the school in the Fall of 1973. They recruited volunteers from around the country and started classes in the two-story, former commissary building in January of 1974. The 10 original students studied academic subjects in the morning and received hands-on vocational experience in the afternoons as they helped to renovate the old building, which, like most structures in the “camps”, was not built to last.
Over the years, through grants and contributions, the school had also acquired the company’s former movie theater to house the vocational program and adult education. A garage/filling station for teaching auto mechanics and to give students business experience, a former scout lodge to accommodate a preschool and two dwellings to house teachers were also acquired.
In 1989 through a unique partnership with the David Community Development Corporation and with funding from foundations, corporations, and individuals, The David School purchased 200+ mostly-wooded acres. It then began the long process of constructing a new 17,000-square foot classroom building and 3,000 square foot vocational building.
This complex is home to the high school, family learning center, and the vocational education program. Cabins, which look out over a small pond, left over from the days when the hollow contained the coal company reservoir, house volunteers and other school guests. The forest surrounding the school is a wildlife refuge and a wondrous place for hikers. The campus has become a community resource for walkers, runners and bicyclists, softball, basketball and volleyball players, and folks who just like to watch a beautiful sunset.
This facility is able to serve up to 100 at risk students in grades 9 through 12. In the family learning center program, parents of students pursue their own educational goals, acquire meaningful strategies in dealing with teenage issues, and share learning experiences with their children.
The school is continuing to grow according to the needs of the students. An area in which the school has expanded due to student requests has been its athletic programs. The school was the first in the county to have a high school soccer team. Additionally a basketball team was added 2 years ago through the help a volunteer coach. The success of these offerings has caused the school to embark on new campus expansion to include a new athletic building which would include a full size gymnasium, male and female locker rooms, weight room and an aerobic room.