Annual Report 2021: A Note on Gratitude

November 30, 2021 |

A Note on Gratitude from our Director, Taylor McCabe-Juhnke

When folks ask what brought me to Rural Schools Collaborative, there are many stories I could tell. I was tired of the big city, I yearned to return to my small-town-roots, I wanted a yard for my cat to roam… but the best answer of how I ended up at such a teacher-centric organization is that my family is chock-full of ‘em. In this giving season, RSC is encouraging folks to make a gift in honor of a teacher. My work at RSC, in addition to my gift this year, is in honor of my favorite teacher...

Karen McCabe-Juhnke, retired Kansas teacher, and Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, RSC Director

My mom, Karen, was a 5-6th grade public school teacher in my small Kansas hometown (she has since retired). Anyone who loves a teacher knows they don’t really take breaks or “have the summers off.” They spend their free time redesigning bulletin boards, writing fund requests, making treats for class celebrations, attending student games and recitals, and tackling an endless mountain of grading and lesson-planning. So why on earth would someone pursue such a busy career?

For my mom, first and foremost, it is always about the relationship with her students. She is their biggest cheerleader.

The fondest memory from her time in the classroom was starting a place-based, native prairie garden at the middle school. Students were empowered to do everything from researching the land, mapping the school yard, designing the gardens, preparing the soil, planting, and caring for the gardens. Along the way, they learned about Kansas’s ecosystem and how native plants withstand the harsh and windy weather.

Karen's former students with red wigglers (worms!)

Each teacher brings a bit of themselves into the classroom. My mom is an avid gardener and nature-enthusiast, so she shared the joy of digging in the dirt with her science classes.

In the same way, we’ve challenged our RSC team to bring a bit of themselves into our work; over the next few weeks, our team will share profiles on why they do what they do. These stories are all grounded in our collective gratitude to those who came before us and helped chart our paths.

We hope you’ll enjoy a small window into our worlds - it is work we are glad to do in service of rural schools and communities.

And, if you’re feeling inspired, I’d encourage you to take a look at our 2021 Annual Report and consider making a gift in honor of a teacher you know.

Thanks for your continued support of RSC, and special thanks to my mom for letting me tell her story - today and everyday, my work is in her honor.


“I know firsthand the amount of time, energy, and commitment teachers give toward their classrooms. I'm happy to give back to an organization whose mission is to support teachers, which, in turn, supports the students - that's really what it's all about!”

Support Our Work

We encourage you to make a gift in honor of a teacher that has influenced your life. Each donation helps further RSC's work in rural communities.

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