rural education

For a Strong Opportunity Culture®, Include Support from the Top

By Margaret High and Sharon Kebschull Barrett, February 11, 2020

Whenever the Public Impact team interviews Opportunity Culture educators, one word comes up again and again: support. With multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) at the core, support flows up and down—up from MCLs serving as an instructional leadership team for their principals, down from MCLs to their teaching teams, and even sideways, with MCLs forming a supportive team for one another.

That schoolwide support becomes even more powerful when backed up by strong, vocal support from a superintendent and central office. Read more…

Vance County Schools’ Jackson Named N.C. Superintendent of the Year

By Margaret High, November 22, 2019

Congratulations to Vance County Schools Superintendent Anthony Jackson, named the 2020 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year! Jackson, who has led Vance County Schools since 2015, brought Opportunity Culture to the district in 2016–17.

“Dr. Tony Jackson has developed a culture of innovation and excellence at Vance County Schools,” Jack Hoke, executive director of the North Carolina School Superintendent’s Association, said at the awards ceremony Tuesday night.

Opportunity Culture® Improving Mineral Wells ISD Education, Rotarians Told

From Mineral Wells Rotary, November 1, 2019

Mineral Wells Rotarians on Wednesday heard how Mineral Wells ISD’s two-year-old Opportunity Culture initiative is benfitting teachers and students in its elementary school classrooms. Mineral Wells ISD school board member and Rotary program chair for the week Scott Elder brought Travis Elementary School Principal David Wells, who in turn brought with him campus educators Carla Watson, Patti Newsome and Lindsey Wells, who all serve as Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCLs) for the school under the Opportunity Culture program.

First Look: Remotely Located Teacher Leadership

From EdNC, May 8, 2019, by Sharon Kebschull Barrett

This semester, the College Board and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) joined with Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture initiative to test the remotely located Multi-Classroom Leadership model: An excellent NCSSM teacher would lead a small team of teachers spread across rural North Carolina districts, which often lack enough teachers who are prepared to ensure student success in advanced classes.

Put Technology to Work in Rural Schools

Technology makes it possible for each of us to do more, learn more and be more connected.

Need to pay your bills and register your kid for swim lessons while locating a recipe for dinner? Jump online. Want to learn more about something you just overheard while in line at the grocery store? Type it into a search engine. Wonder what your former Little League teammates are up to? Check your Facebook newsfeed.

Imagine what we could do for education if we maximized the potential of technology for teachers and students. Technology’s potential seems particularly compelling for rural schools, which struggle to offer an array of learning opportunities, to transport students to a central facility and to get the best combination of teachers from small candidate pools.

Technology in education sounds terrific: It can bring the world to a classroom. It can give students access to courses and resources they might not otherwise get. It can inject engaging fun into the classroom, as students learn through games and create in a digital medium.

Technology seems like a shiny tool that will build a bridge across the achievement gap. But technology’s power, like any tool, depends on how it is used. If a builder buys a new skill saw and wants to get the full value from his investment, he will place it in the hands of his best carpenter and will charge that leader with training the other carpenters to use it effectively. Likewise, efforts to use digital tools in education gain new potential when paired with efforts to give more students access to the best teachers.

Schools in several states are doing just that by developing new staffing models that break out of the traditional one-teacher-per-classroom model. They extend the reach of their top teachers using technology and team leadership. These teacher-leaders help their peers orchestrate in-person and online activities to maximize student learning. They use flexible student groupings and scheduling to meet each student’s needs while coaching teams of teachers toward excellent instruction.

Most rural schools, including districts participating in the Idaho Leads initiative, the Idaho P-TECH network, Khan Academy in Idaho and other efforts, are already forging ahead with integrating technology into their work. But to tap the full potential of technology, students, communities, educators and policymakers will also need to re-envision the traditional paradigm: particularly the notion of education delivered within classrooms of 20 to 30 students led by a single teacher.

In Technology and Rural Education, a paper funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and developed with the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, we offer a set of recommendations to overcome challenges and capitalize on the potential of technology to serve students, particularly Idaho’s rural students, including: