Rural Schools Collaborative believes that building a sustainable rural future necessitates giving young people a platform and a seat at the table to make change. Thanks to our partners and supporters, RSC has been able to expand our team, and we are thrilled to introduce you to our rural-born-and-bred staff members who are making waves so early in their careers:
Savannah Franklund, Community Development Coordinator, is a recent Monmouth College Communications graduate who grew up outside of Longmont, Colorado.
When asked about staying in the Monmouth area post-graduation to join RSC, Savannah said,
“I was lucky to find Monmouth College, where I spent my four years for my Bachelor’s Degree. In Monmouth, I found a constant home and strong community that I was able to grow in and foster amazing relationships. I think the strong roots and ties to community in rural areas are so inspiring and definitely are what pull people in and make them stay.”
Savannah has high hopes for her role and the organization as a whole. When asked about what lies ahead, she says, “I believe there are some big things in RSC’s future, and I am so thankful to be part of this staff as we make it happen. I closely value our core mission of advocating for rural areas and sharing their stories, so I am thrilled to continue the important work of RSC.”
John Glasgow, Partnerships and Programs Manager, grew up in the Monmouth, IL. He completed a B.A. in political science and Chinese at Macalester College and went on to receive his masters at Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies.
John’s work at RSC supports many of our local Illinois partners, like the Galesburg Community Foundation, and he also serves as the staff liaison for the broader Regional Hub network.
When asked about coming back to his Monmouth roots, John says, “I’m a rural return-ee that left home never wanting to return, only to find that what my heart, mind, and soul yearned for was to advocate for the real opportunities of every rural place. There’s something special in the ability of rural places to lean on the power of people, place, and common visions to accomplish tasks”
“My hopes for RSC moving forward are that we continue to live into our three foundational pillars of schools, community, and philanthropy, and that we’re able to advocate for teachers, strengthen the bonds of school and community, and redirect grants and funds back to the local level”
“There’s something special in the ability of rural places to lean on the power of people, place, and common visions to accomplish tasks”
Maggie Langenfeld, Communications Manager, grew up across from her grandparents and uncle in Earling, Iowa – a town of 370. She recently relocated to Monmouth, IL to join the RSC team after completing her undergrad in communications and art at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Maggie describes her position at RSC as managing social media and the website, but also lending a hand in storytelling and uplifting rural voices. Her time at Central was pivotal in the unique lens she brings to her work – a focus on a diverse and inclusive mission was key to her acceptance of this role.
“My personal hopes for the future of RSC are to uplift and support rural teachers and communities by telling their stories. I especially want to keep a keen eye on those diverse stories within these rural places to continue advocating for those voices. Inclusivity is a very important part of community - I want everyone to feel as welcome in a rural setting as I have felt my whole life.”
“Inclusivity is a very important part of community - I want everyone to feel as welcome in a rural setting as I have felt my whole life.”
Hailey Winkleman, Advocacy Media Coordinator, holds a joint role with NREA and Rural Schools Collaborative in support of the I Am a Rural Teacher campaign. Hailey is located in Carmi, Illinois, and was born and raised rural.
Hailey is a 2019 graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she has a strong background with rural education advocacy, so coming onboard as a staffer was a no brainer.
“I got connected with RSC through my work with AIRSS (Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools) and NREA (National Rural Education Association), and my first big project with RSC was as the advocacy liaison for I Am A Rural Teacher in 2020. I applied to RSC this year to work in communications, and the rest is history.”
When asked “Why rural?”, Hailey’s answer is simple. “My rural advantage is slow, quiet living. I am surprisingly introverted, and it’s nice to not have too much social pressure and be able to sit back and relax, without city noise.”
Jenni Dickens, Place Network Liaison, assists RSC with Place Network outreach and communication. Jenni has a shared role with Monmouth College, where she primarily serves as the Director of Partnerships and Initiatives for the Educational Studies Department. Her shared role also supports the RSC/Monmouth College partnership.
Prior to joining Monmouth College, Jenni worked in the local rural school district as a Kindergarten teacher for English language learners.
She has a special interest in place-based education, and her background as a teacher gives her a unique perspective on RSC’s work. In Jenni’s words, “Every rural place has a story; Place-based education inspires students' curiosity to learn about and become part of this story. It develops a sense of agency and stewardship in both the classroom and the community."
“It’s a big deal that RSC has enabled these early-career superstars to use their talents advocating for rural schools. Bright-flight can be a pain point in rural America, so bringing these talented, young people together to put their roots down in small-town Illinois is incredible.”
Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, Executive Director, is a North Newton, Kansas native and recent Seattle transplant to Galesburg, IL. Taylor has had a varied career in small, medium, and large cities across the US, and is happy to return to her rural roots.
Taylor comes from a long-line of educators and feels she was in the right place at the right time when the opportunity to join RSC arose. In the first few months of her leadership role, she reflects that the accomplishment she is most proud of is bringing together this driven team.
“It’s a big deal that RSC has enabled these early-career superstars to use their talents advocating for rural schools. Bright-flight can be a pain point in rural America, so bringing these talented, young people together to put their roots down in small-town Illinois is incredible. I could not be more proud of our team.
You can learn more about our team via their bios, or check out the Facebook Live where they introduced themselves!