Our Arizona Hub is lead by the Arizona Rural Schools Association and the Northern Arizona University Rural Resource Center

The Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) serves to advocate for and support districts across the state's rural and Indigenous communities. In partnership with the Northern Arizona University Rural Resource Center (NAURRC), ARSA is excited to bring together a collaborative network of rural allies and supporters in Arizona to further enrich schools and communities alike. Melissa Sadorf, President of ARSA and a rural superintendent, will serve as the Arizona Hub's primary contact.

Working toward a shared common goal of strengthening rural education in Arizona, the Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) and Northern Arizona University’s Rural Schools Resource Center (NAURRC) have a vibrant working relationship.

Melissa Sadorf, the Executive Director of NAU’s Rural Schools Resource Center and Superintendent of the Stanfield Elementary School District, shares that, “Joining Rural Schools Collaborative allows us to collaborate across the country with people doing the same work that we’re doing and iterating on that work. Having the support of RSC and exploring what we can do to be responsive to the rural needs in our area is very exciting work that will fill a real need in our area.”

Wes Brownfield, the Executive Director of ARSA, notes that “Intelligent action begins with awareness, and what looking for with this partnership is a situational awareness, not just of our situation but an awareness of how other rural organizations in similar situations have managed. From a broad perspective, almost everyone has the same issues, so the more we are able to know about those situations and issues, the better we are able to manage them.”


The Arizona Rural Schools Association’s mission is to improve instruction in Arizona rural schools; they are committed to equity in education regardless of a school’s size or geographic region. ARSA is focused on helping rural schools identify and meet their educational goals, improve communication between rural schools and policymakers, and coordinate the sharing of resources. This September, ARSA will host its 27th Annual Conference, featuring exhibits, speakers, and workshops, highlighting their dedication to bringing rural teachers and administrators together to share knowledge and resources. Learn more about ARSA and its work by reading some of their newsletters.


The Northern Arizona University’s Rural Schools Resource Center (NAURRC) was launched in January of 2022 and has a formal and collaborative relationship with ARSA and works closely with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The central mission of the NAURRC is to provide resources, relationships, and community to strengthen rural education in Arizona. The Center aims to be the premier center for rural leaders, offering unique solutions to solve rural education challenges in Arizona, including:

  • Providing Resources

  • Building Talent Capacity

  • Enhancing Communication to Rural Schools

And, to achieve these aims, the NAURRC is working on some amazing projects and programs, designed to serve the specific needs of leaders working in rural settings, increase student academic achievement through building talent capacity, and provide research, resources, and support. Some of these collaborative programs and projects include:

  • A one-stop resource shop for rural school district leaders that features over 60 resources on 13 different topics to assist leaders in their daily work with current and archived resources and tools to assist leaders in their daily work

  • The Rural Education Leaders Community, a joint collaboration between the Arizona Rural Schools Association, Grand Canyon University’s Canyon PD, and the California Small School Districts Association. With the goal of supporting rural leaders in the West, the RELC will meet over the course of the next school year to provide professional development and networking opportunities to rural practitioners and leaders across 16 Western states

  • The Final Mile, a collaboration with ARSA, which aims to deliver dependable internet to every Arizona student, helping to bridge technology and opportunity gaps by ensuring that every K-12 student in Arizona is able to take part in teacher-led classes from anywhere in the state

  • The Rural Scoop in collaboration with ARSA and hosted by Melissa Sadorf discusses a variety of topics, highlighting what’s working in rural schools around the state and country

These organizations’ dedication to direct community engagement and their commitment to resource development and advocacy exemplifies the mission-driven regional collaboration that RSC strives to uphold. This partnership builds upon the existing good work in Arizona, including the Regional Policy Playbook project. ARSA also serves as the Arizona National Rural Education Association State-Affiliate.

Jolene Smith - Kayenta AZ

Jolene Smith

Teaching Culture on the Navajo Nation

The First Voices from the Field Podcast

Jolene exemplifies the mission of culturally responsive teaching in her own lessons. Her curriculum isn't just about math, social studies or how to read. It’s also about incorporating the Navajo culture into those lessons and integrating community into the classroom.

In one lesson, Jolene teaches through the lens of the hogan, a traditional, sacred dwelling for the Navajo people. She writes word problems for her class about building the structure.

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