Proudly Announcing our 2023-24 National Signature Project Award Recipients!

The National Rural Education Association and Rural Schools Collaborative award three outstanding rural educators for this year’s National Signature Project Award!

May 24, 2023 |

Each year, the National Rural Education Association (NREA) and Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC) accept applications for the National Signature Project Award (NSPA), a $2,500 grant to an outstanding and innovative classroom project that exemplifies the very best in place-based education.

After funding three incredible projects last year, RSC and the NREA are thrilled to again award two additional rural teachers with $1,500 toward their individual place-based education projects. The National Signature Project Award is open to any rural classroom teacher in the United States.

Rural Schools Collaborative and the National Rural Education Association are proud to announce Kim McCully-Mobley of Aurora, Missouri, as the 2023-24 National Signature Project Award recipient for her place-based project, "All Roads Lead Home Veterans Honor Garden." RSC and NREA are also proud to announced our runner-ups for the 2023-24 National Signature Project Award! Our NSPA runner-ups are Will Miller, of rural Massachusetts, and Carrie Guillaume, of rural Indiana. Will Miller will be leading his place-based education project, "Developing a Sustainable Maple Syrup Production System" and Carrie's awarded project is, "Feeding our Community."

Learn about all three outstanding rural educators and more about their upcoming projects!

Kim McCully-Mobley, MO -- National Signature Project Award Recipient

This coming November will mark 19 years as a teacher at her alma mater, Aurora High School, for Kim McCully-Mobley. August will mark off 31 years total in higher education. As you can see, Kim is passionate about teaching and is reminded each day of her love for teaching especially the time with her colleagues and students. Kim is following in her mother and grandmother's footsteps who taught in one-room school houses in northwest Arkansas.

Kim will be working with her students and community on her project, "All Roads Lead Home Veterans Honor Garden" at the Aurora Houn’ Dawg Alumni & Outreach Center. The facility that was constructed during World War II and was originally an armory for the National Guard, has now been repurposed as an interactive museum and resource center to help preserve,promote and protect historical stories. Part of the story will be paying homage to the World War I Medal of Honor Recipient–Harold Leo Turner and Howard Kelley, another World War I soldier turned educator who left his mark on the town. Kim is excited to work with her students to celebrate the sense of place through storytelling, creative projects, research, healthy dialogue and planning and hosting events.

Carrie Guillaume, IN -- National Signature Project Award Runner-Up Recipient

Carrie is excited to get started on her project, "Commercial Community Kitchen".

The goal of The Commercial Community Kitchen is to allow students to preserve any food that is raised by them locally, on the school's campus and allow them to sell their products to local restaurants and grocery stores. Carrie and her students will be able to operate their own
business and sell the produce they grow to the school's cafeteria where all of the students can enjoy their very own, locally grown food!

This will allow her rural students to get a hands-on experience of what it is like to run a business and understand the responsibilities associated with it. Students will also gain valuable life and employability skills by growing their own produce. The kitchen will also be open to community members to use and prepare or preserve their own produce as well. The commercial kitchen will be a great addition to the students’ education and the community as a whole for years to come.

Will Miller, MA -- National Signature Project Award Runner-Up Recipient

Will Miller is a science teacher at the Academy at Charlemont in Charlemont, MA, where he teaches Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science classes to students in grades 8, 9, 10, and 12th. He fosters creative skills of scientific inquiry and problem-solving using hands-on projects to engage students’ natural curiosity and joy of learning.

Will and his students will be working on their project, "Developing a Sustainable Maple Syrup Production System".
Starting in 2023, students will research, calculate, harvest, split, and season the necessary
amount of fuel wood from the woods in preparation for the sugaring season in 2024. During the school year, students will conduct cultural and ecological research into sugaring practices by interviewing local sugar makers, members of the local indigenous community, foresters, and historians, reading peer-reviewed research on sustainable sugaring techniques, and surveying the campus.

During the sugaring season, students will engage in the various tasks required for making syrup, including tapping maple trees, collecting sap in buckets, testing the sap for sugar content, designing, building , and maintaining a wood-fired boiling operation, and preserving the finished syrup. The goal is to provide members of the school community and our various community volunteers with a modest amount of syrup as a thank you for contributing knowledge and labor to the efforts. The season will culminate in a pancake and waffle feast hosted on campus where students will present their documentary stories of the project from start to finish. Students will build on the
2024 season by planting new maple trees annually and continuing to develop the sugaring operation whilst finding new ways to incorporate the process into the place-based curricula in science, math, and humanities.

We are thrilled to support Kim, Carrie & Will with their student-driven projects that connects their students to their rural community and place. Congratulations, Kim, Carrie and Will!

Kim McCully-Mobley, Will Miller & Carrie Guillaume are part of the sixth annual National Signature Project award cohort. The 2023-24 recipients are preceded by Lara Belice, Abby Jones and Chris Robinson as part of the fifth National Signature Project Award recipient cohort, following 2021-22 selection, Haley Salitros Lancaster of Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana. In 2020 Connie Michael of Crow Agency Elementary on the Crow Reservation in Montana ​​was the National Signature Project Award recipient, and in 2019 Devon Barker-Hicks of Idaho, and in 2018 Andrea Wood, from Moorcroft, Wyoming. McCully-Mobley will receive an award of $2,500, which will be applied to her incredible place-based project! This is the second year Rural Schools Collaborative and National Rural Education Association have awarded two additional projects, Will Miller & Carrie Guillaume will be awarded $1,500 towards their individual place-based education projects.

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