Rural Education Association to promoted


Rural Education Association to promoted

Rural Education

STEM West supports rural education in McDowell

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Recently, the national STEMx network announced funding for five states to expand quality STEM education programs and add to the national conversation on innovative education.
The 2019 STEMx Challenge Grants funds projects in Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Four of the five awardees focus specifically on expanding STEM in rural areas, an emerging focus of the STEM education movement today. The fifth includes rural areas as part of a broader coalition-building effort.
      The STEMx network, a coalition of leading STEM education organizations, selected the winners through a competitive process. Each of the five winning proposals will achieve two goals. First, these programs will catalyze the expansion of quality STEM education in the selected state. Second, every state will document their success and share their expertise through the STEMx network, furthering the national dialogue on expanding access to education.
“The opportunities funded today will position these five networks as leaders in expanding STEM nationally,” said Wes Hall, interim senior vice-president of education and philanthropy at Battelle. “The expertise they share will strengthen all states.”
Battelle manages the STEMx network as a part of the institution’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of innovators.
Today’s funding marks the second time the South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science has won a STEMx Challenge Grant.
“Through STEMx and its support of this program, more South Carolina students have experienced the inspiration that a quality STEM education provides,” said Tom Peters, executive director of the South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science. “This latest project builds our work and will allow us to expand the reach of STEM to more communities.”
Idaho: New strategic plan and regional hubs planned to enhance statewide STEM access
Facing projections of a 26% increase in the number of STEM jobs in Idaho by 2024, the Idaho STEM Action Center looks to expand into a full-fledged statewide STEM ecosystem. The Idaho STEM Action Center will bring partners together and formalize a state STEM network with shared vision, mission, and goals. This new strategic plan will include a series of regional STEM hubs.
The project will be led by the Idaho STEM Action Center, a government agency under the Executive Office of the Governor.
Indiana: Community sessions culminate in state convening on rural STEM education
The Indiana STEM Ecosystem will host a spring 2020 STEM Ecosystem Convening to gather businesses, PK-12 education and out of school programs. Attendees will identify key local challenges to expanding STEM partnerships to reach students in rural communities. Planning for the convening will include open sessions in Indianapolis, Northern Indiana and Southern Indiana.

The Indiana STEM Ecosystem was established as the I-STEM Network in 2006 by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Eli Lilly and Company, the Lilly Endowment and Purdue University. For this grant, the Indiana STEM Ecosystem will partner with the Indiana Afterschool Network, ISTEM Resource Network at Purdue University, and the Rolls Royce Corporation.
North Carolina: Seven county rural regions will select and achieve three key actions to expand rural STEM education.
STEM West will rally the seven-county region of rural western NC around STEM education. The main event will be hosted in the center of western North Carolina at the Isothermal Community College in Spindale on January 30th (with a snow date of February 12th). That full-day event will highlight local STEM programs, identify programming gaps, and select three key future action items. The facilitator for consensus will be Tom Williams, president of Strategic Educational Alliances, Inc. Following the event, sub-meetings will begin to drive completion of these three action items in time to report back to STEMx in June.
   STEM West is a non-profit based in Catawba County Schools and is supported by the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center in Durham, North Carolina. The seven counties served by STEM West are Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford.
South Carolina: Local feedback session and new rural STEM effort
South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science will host a localized feedback session focused on rural STEM education with an emphasis on whole community engagement. Building off the Coalition’s prior success with the Grand Challenges format, the session will be interactive. It will also drive toward the creation of at least one rural STEM education effort to increase knowledge and sustain community support. The South Carolina team has already begun developing a list of potential organizations and individuals to invite and plans for more than 100 attendees.
Through a previous STEMx Challenge Grant, the state identified five Grand Challenges for STEM in South Carolina. This included building awareness about STEM and engaging more people in STEM advocacy. This follow-on funding will enhance current efforts toward these ends.
South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science will lead the program.
Virginia: As foundation state network grows, meetings in rural regions
To ensure the Virginia statewide STEM plan meets its goal of increasing equity and access in STEM education, state leaders felt it was important to hear directly from community members. This challenge grant will give citizens a voice and role in the development of this plan. With these supporting funds the Virginia STEM Coordinator, Chuck English, and the Virginia Department of Education STEM Director, Dr. Tina Manglicmot, will visit five rural regions and host sessions where stakeholders will have the opportunity to learn about the development of the plan and add their perspectives. It will start the communications network that will help with future Virginia STEM developments.
Launched in 2012, the STEMx network is a nationwide coalition of state STEM networks. Through the STEMx network, organizations can share opportunities and solutions for addressing some of the education’s greatest obstacles. To learn more, visit
About Battelle-
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers.
Battelle also manages a range of successful projects bringing quality STEM education to students including the Ohio STEM Learning Network, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, and the national STEMx network.

Rural educators from the Kentucky chapter of the National Rural Education Association to promoted collaboration

No result found, try new keyword! Kentucky K-12 educational leaders increased their voice and power of collaboration by establishing a state chapter and joining the National Rural Education Association (NREA) last week in Louisville.

Rural Education-

International travel isn’t an option for most students in Mary Claire Giddens’ freshman English class at Fitzgerald High School. Even though they live two hours from the Atlantic, some of them have never seen the ocean, much less cross it. Fitzgerald, about 30 miles northeast of Tifton, is best known for the wild Burmese chickens that strut the downtown streets and, some claim, keep the bugs away. It is a heavily agricultural community with a population under 9,000 and a poverty rate of 38.8 percent (Georgia’s average is 16.9 percent). For some in the town, exploring new places isn’t possible.
But one warm May morning, just a few weeks before the end of school, Giddens takes her students far away from their sleepy hometown, over the ocean, and back a few centuries to Italy’s fair Verona with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
After graduating from the College of Education, Mary Claire Giddens BSEd ’14 returned to her rural roots to teach in Fitzgerald, Georgia (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)
Capping the year with a play written in Elizabethan English could be a tough sell, but Giddens BSEd ’14 keeps the room engaged with a little dueling (as she has the students act out the fight scenes with foam swords) and an accessible dive into the text. Even though the story is hundreds of years old, Giddens keeps it relevant, comparing the earnest lovers to friends they might know while simultaneously cultivating an appreciation for Shakespeare’s writing.
“I want y’all to pay attention to what smooth game Romeo has,” Giddens says when the class reaches the scene of the star-crossed lovers’ first kiss.
The students eat it up. One remarks that, before meeting Juliet, a forlorn Romeo is acting “cringe.” Another question about whether the two are even in love, really. “He’s 17; she’s 13. They don’t know what love is.”
The skepticism is evidence that the students are paying attention.
In her second year at the school, Giddens is already the kind of inspiring teacher who can direct even the class clowns toward an appreciation for the Bard. She has become a lot like her own English teacher, Brenda Whitley, who teaches across the hall. It was about 10 years ago that Giddens was reading Shakespeare as a freshman in this same school from the same textbooks as her students. It’s one of the experiences that inspired her to earn a teaching degree from UGA’s College of Education.
Although she hadn’t really planned to, Giddens has come back to teach in her rural hometown. But this sort of homecoming has become an increasingly uncommon story.
Challenges and Solutions
   Schools across the nation are facing a number of challenges. A big one is teacher shortages, says Denise Spangler Ph.D. ’95, dean of the College of Education. In a 2018 Gallup poll of K-12 school superintendents, 61 percent said they were concerned about their district’s ability to recruit and retain quality teachers.
The challenges are especially acute for rural and urban schools (two areas associated with high poverty rates). But whereas policymakers often talk about the challenges of urban schools, rural districts tend to be forgotten. That’s also true in the scholarly realm, where there’s fairly little research about the dynamics of rural K-12 education—even though nearly one out of five students attends a rural school in the United States.
Sheneka M. Williams, associate professor in the College of Education, is one of the researchers exploring this issue. For Williams, the topic is personal as well as academic. 
grew up in rural Jackson, Alabama. It was the kind of town where her parents knew her teachers by name before she even started school. Williams rejects the notion that people from small towns are undereducated. For her, it was a quality learning environment. But she does see a growing problem: Too often, a rural community’s brightest minds don’t stay.
“Many are leaving, and those who do go off to college find it difficult to return,” Williams says.

What’s happening in rural communities is part of a larger economic shift.
“As the U.S. has transitioned away from relying heavily on manufacturing and goods production, it’s hit rural communities especially hard and sometimes created a cycle of unemployment,” Williams says.
The College of Education is addressing the needs of these rural communities not only through its research, such as Williams’ scholarship studying rural education but also with its rigorous teacher preparation program, which equips aspiring teachers to educate a diverse array of students. The impact can be felt throughout the state. In the last five years, the college has supplied at least one UGA grad to teach in 153 of Georgia’s 181 school districts.
Building Community
But it’s not all bad news. K-12 education may be one area that—if fortified with good teachers and the right resources—can be a source of strength for a small community. “What rural areas can offer is a more cohesive community. It’s more familial. There is research that says these smaller learning environments, where you feel like you are part of a community, provide benefits for students,” Williams says.
Already, schools can act as the cultural heart of a community. A place where generations have shared experiences and have gathered for Friday night football games and school concerts.
That sense of community is what Chuck Arnold MMEd ’10, EdS ’13 is building as director of bands at Dawson County High School. A skilled trumpeter, Arnold served in the U.S. Navy Band overseas and worked as a freelance musician in New Orleans before becoming a school band director, just like his father.
Arnold came to UGA for his postgraduate work. While in Athens, he taught the Redcoat Marching Band trumpet section and acted as rehearsal director for the UGA Jazz Ensemble.
While a graduate student ay UGA, Chuck Arnold MMEd ’10, EdS ’13 taught the trumpet section of the Redcoat Marching Band and was rehearsal director for the UGA Jazz Ensemble. He is now director of bands at Dawson County High School in North Georgia. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)
After working at Collins Hill High School in Gwinnett County, Arnold went to Dawson County. He was drawn to two things: the beauty of the area (a tight-knit community nestled in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains) and the challenges that awaited.
When he arrived, the band's program was not in good shape. In a school where 1,100 students were enrolled, only 35 were in the band. The program had not been a priority in the district until a new administration arrived.
Arnold was charged with building a band that could be a point of pride for the community. He had his work cut out for him. Being a high school band director is as much about running an operation (fundraising, travel plans, recruitment) as it is about teaching students to play together. Arnold’s coursework and experiences at UGA have been invaluable for helping him manage the load.
And for him, the effort is worth it. Music education, he says, offers an unparalleled experience to prepare students for success.
“It’s life in a nutshell,” he says of the band experience. “It teaches them accountability. They have to be here every single rehearsal because every other member is counting on them. You’ve got to be prepared. It’s very similar to job expectations.”
In his four years at the helm, the band has tripled in size and raised its music grade level from a 3 (which is a medium-skill level) to 5 (advanced). Arnold credits the students and the school administration for the developments. Others might add that Arnold’s musical experience combined with academic chops is a big factor too.
Distance Learning

While teacher shortages are a problem across the board, it is particularly acute in special education. Julie Rigdon BSEd ’18 was oblivious to the issue until 2011. That’s when a retinal disease damaged her husband Kevin’s vision so badly that he had to quit his job.
Julie Rigdon BSEd ’18 teaches visually impaired students in South Georgia. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)
To support her family, Rigdon went to work as a bookkeeper for an elementary school in Waycross. There she met the Ware County School District’s visual impairments teacher, Barbara Sonnier. Rigdon was still navigating her new life with a visually impaired husband. Sonnier helped Rigdon find some of the resources her family needed to get by. As Rigdon saw Sonnier working with students, helping equip them for a life without sight, Rigdon was inspired. She saw the need, and she wanted to help.
“There aren’t enough vision teachers anyway,” she says. “But in South Georgia, there are practically none.”
In her mid-30s, she enrolled in UGA’s online Bachelor of Science in Special Education program, a two-year degree that offers students the flexibility to complete this degree in a high-need field. In her area of southeast Georgia, bachelor’s programs are limited.
“It was not an option to drive to the nearest on-campus program because I needed to stay close to home for my husband and daughter,” she says. “Having the flexibility to be available for my family and get a degree from UGA was too good to not go for it.”
As soon as Rigdon graduated, she began working on her online master’s degree in visual impairment. This fall, she begins her first job as a visual impairment teacher in Wayne County. She’ll serve 11 students who range from 2nd to 11th grade, helping them learn Braille, making sure they have the right learning materials, and teaching them daily living skills (cooking, cleaning the house, and other daily tasks that they can’t learn from visual cues).
Getting to finally teach will be a relief for her. Just like Giddens, Williams, Arnold, and others who’ve come through UGA’s College of Education, the ultimate goal is helping the younger generations reach their potential.
“I’m so excited to finally get to work with the students and their parents,” Rigdon says. “Just to let them know, there is someone here that can help you.”

Theory vs. Practice
There’s an old debate in teacher preparation about the importance of theory (such as theories about how children learn, how to use technology effectively, how to teach reading) versus practical experience (just getting into a classroom and teaching). Both are extremely important to becoming an effective teacher, says Dean Denise Spangler, especially in a diverse environment.
The College of Education already is a national heavyweight when it comes to teaching theory and research. And it has worked to balance theory and practice with its partnership with the Clarke County School District. The Professional Development School District brings UGA students and faculty into Clarke County schools to contribute to the education of the K-12 students while also giving aspiring teachers an invaluable experiential learning opportunity. More than 500 UGA students participate each year, and eight faculty members serve as professors-in-residence to guide UGA students and provide support to teachers and administrators.
Mary Claire Giddens went through the program and calls it one of her most valuable experiences at UGA. She says the needs of urban students in a high-poverty area are comparable to those in her rural school.
“It gave me a realistic picture of what teaching was going to be like,” she says.
The program also sharpens the expertise of UGA faculty.
Denise Spangler Ph.D. ’95 is dean of the University of Georgia’s College of Education. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)
“It helps them make sure that what we’re doing is relevant in today’s schools with the kinds of policies that teachers work under, the kinds of students they’re working with, the kinds of constraints there are around testing,” Spangler says.

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