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Jim Beddow, outgoing RSC board chair, and Josh Gibb, 2018-19 board chair, pictured at the Galesburg Community Foundation in Galesburg, Illinois.

Our Stories

Board Leadership Drives the Work of the Rural Schools Collaborative

Galesburg, Illinois

August 29, 2018

Since its inception in 2014 the Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC) has been a board-driven organization. Our board members are donors. They are volunteers. Their respective organizations are our guiding partners. We are a collaboration in the truest sense of the word.

The 2017-18 board of directors was led by Jim Beddow of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jim presided over what was an outstanding year that included the following accomplishments:

  • Added regional Action Hubs in the Northern Rockies, Ohio, New England and North Dakota, bringing the total number of regional Hubs to ten.
  • Established a partnership with Teton Science Schools in Wyoming to build out the Place Network Schools in alignment with our Hubs.
  • Opened a regional rural education office in Springfield, Missouri in conjunction with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and local donors.
  • Entered into a support agreement with the Galesburg Community Foundation and Monmouth College to open a Western Illinois Hub office in Monmouth, Illinois.
  • Assisted with the establishment of new rural teacher corps programs at Western Illinois University and Monmouth College
  • Worked with the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, Southern Illinois University, and Eastern Illinois University on planning grants to support rural teacher corps efforts across Illinois.
  • Grants in Place grew to $139,000 including a new National Signature Grant Project in tandem with the National Rural Education Association.

These kinds of good results do not happen by accident, and the work of the Rural Schools Collaborative is based on annual action plans that are developed and approved by our board of directors at their annual planning meeting. This year's session, held on August 15 in St. Louis, Missouri, was no different, and RSC's board approved the following plan, which will guide our work in the year ahead:

  • Assess and evaluate the impact of procedures related to the Grants in Place program.
  • Establish an ad hoc Strategic Partnership Committee to explore development pathways and make recommendations on how to sustain and enhance RSC's mission-driven work.
  • Work with Teton Science Schools to establish Place Network Schools in at least five of RSC's regional Action Hubs.
  • Develop an implementation plan for the future recruitment of RSC board members.
  • Host the RSC's second Rural Teacher Corps Summit in cooperation with Monmouth College in the spring/early summer of 2019.

Josh Gibb, president and CEO of the Galesburg Community Foundation, will serve as this year's board chair, and it is appropriate that our second Rural Teacher Corps summit will take place in his region. Josh is a founding RSC board member, and the Galesburg Community Foundation has been instrumental in the growth of the Rural Schools Collaborative.

Other board officers for 2018-19 are Carol Silvey of West Plains, Missouri, vice-chair; Larry Lee of Montgomery, Alabama, secretary, and Julie Leeth of Springfield, Missouri, treasurer. Jim Beddow will chair the Strategic Partnership Committee and remain part of the executive committee.

The board of directors certainly shepherds the work of the organization, but RSC owes so much to its Advocates, donors, grant recipients, and partners, as well as many others who do so much for rural schools and communities. Thank you for your passion and commitment.

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