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

The Arizona Rural Schools Association serves to advocate for and support districts across the state's rural and Indigenous communities, and as Arizona Regional Hub works in partnership with the Northern Arizona University Rural Resource Center. Melissa Sadorf, President of ARSA and a rural superintendent, serves as the Arizona Hub's primary contact.

The Arizona Rural Schools Association (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 ties their work to Northern Arizona University’s Rural Schools Resource Center (NAURRC). Together, both organizations are working toward a shared common goal of strengthening rural education in Arizona.

Melissa Sadorf, the Executive Director of Northern Arizona University’s Rural Schools Resource Center, Superintendent of the Stanfield Elementary School District, and President of ARSA shares that, “joining Rural Schools Collaborative has allowed 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 fills a real need in our area.” 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.

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. The central mission of the NAURRC is to provide resources, relationships, and community to strengthen rural education. Some of these collaborative programs and projects include:

  • A one-stop resource shop for rural school district leaders that features resources to assist leaders in their daily work

  • The Rural Education Leaders Community, a joint collaboration between ARSA, Grand Canyon University’s Canyon PD, and the California Small School Districts Association.

  • The Final Mile, a collaboration with ARSA, which aims to deliver dependable internet to every Arizona student

  • The Rural Scoop Podcast, hosted in collaboration with ARSA and by Melissa Sadorf

Both ARSA and NAURRC’s dedication to direct community engagement and their commitment to resource development and advocacy exemplifies the mission-driven regional collaboration that RSC strives to uphold. Learn more about what’s happening in rural Arizona schools below.

Teacher Profile

Jolene Smith

Jolene Smith - Kayenta, AZ

Teaching students how to better understand their community and place through the culture of the Navajo Nation.

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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