Rural Schools Collaborative is celebrating a season of new beginnings and farewells. July marks the beginning of our new fiscal year, and we are pleased to welcome two new board members, Mr. Brian Fogle and Dr. Jan Miller, to the team. We also acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our outgoing board members, Julie Leeth and Larry Lee. RSC is immensely grateful for their dedication to our mission over the years, and our team would not be where it is today without their leadership. Thank you, Julie and Larry!
Rural Schools Collaborative is pleased to welcome two new members to The Board of Directors: Mr. Brian Fogle and Dr. Jan Miller. Both Fogle and Miller have been strong advocates of RSC, and are excited to join the board and continue the development of the organization.
Outside of his dedication to Rural Schools Collaborative, Brian Fogle is the President and CEO of Community Foundation of the Ozarks located in Springfield, Missouri. Fostering relationships spanning over 58 rural Missouri counties, Fogle is no stranger to place-based education and the need for striving rural communities, noting that: “Schools are the center of activity and pride in rural communities. If schools stay vital - communities stay vital,” says Fogle.
“Schools are the center of activity and pride in rural communities. If schools stay vital - communities stay vital.”
Initially, Fogle became connected with RSC through his decades-long friendship with Gary Funk, former Director and founding board member of RSC.
As Fogle reflects on his past with Funk he shared, “I owe Gary and The Board a lot of credit for seeing something in me I did not see in myself at the time.”
After a long career in banking, his focus transitioned to the rural and philanthropic sphere and began working with Funk and the Rural Schools Partnership. Fogle is excited to continue to support Rural Schools Collaborative directly as a Board member and the incoming Treasurer.
As Fogle assumes his position on The Board, he shares this advice for the young team: “In this polarized time, it is important to approach rural communities. We need to invest in rural America. There is a lot of skepticism and a scarcity mentality in rural communities right now. We need to approach them with, ‘We are going to build something better and create something that is of value, a vibrant community for our kids and the future.’”
Rooted in rural, Dr. Jan Miller is joining the board from Alabama, where she is currently the Dean at the University of West Alabama College of Education. In the past few years, Dr. Miller has built the college’s doctoral program in rural education. Miller actively strives to give back and serve the community.
“My mission is: I really want to make a difference,” she says. “I want to make an impact in our community and be known for more than just a teacher’s college. I hope to nourish our schools with teachers and keep the communities thriving.”
“I hope to nourish our schools with teachers and keep the communities thriving.”
Prior to assuming her role at UWA, Miller was the principal at her hometown school, and she has an extensive background in teaching. Miller's passion stems from her childhood in a rural place, and has driven her to give back to those communities.
“I was so inspired by my teachers, which is why I wanted to become a teacher myself,” says Miller. “Then, I watched my parents fight for our community school as a child, so when I was principal it was so amazing to give back to my family and community.”
Dr. Miller’s connection with RSC has played a large role in UWA’s doctoral program. In addition to joining the board, Miller will continue to serve as RSC’s Hub contact for Alabama and the Black Belt regions of Mississippi and Georgia. She is looking forward to her endeavors on the RSC’s Board of Directors and helping the organization continue to grow. A future goal Jan voiced for RSC is to explore a way for Hubs to send young educators from their areas to learn what rural living looks like across the country.
Miller offered the following advice for the RSC team and budding rural advocates: “I challenge you all to truly think outside the box, while always staying grounded in the mission. Push yourselves, and don't let people say ‘you can’t’ - tell people to ‘sit back and watch’, use that as fuel. Continue to push one another, support each other and think big.”
These two innovative and rurally-rooted individuals are invaluable collaborators as RSC continues in its mission to share the voices and stories of rural schools and educators.