Rural Wyoming Teacher Receives National Signature Grant Award

Project is NREA and RSC partnership.

June 5, 2018 |

The National Rural Education Association and the Rural Schools Collaborative are proud to announce that Andrea Wood, English teacher at Moorcroft High School, is the recipient of the Grants in Place National Signature Grant Award. Wood will receive a $2,500 award to support Digital Stories of Rural Wyoming, a student-centered research, writing, and media effort that is grounded in community.

Dr. Allen Pratt, executive director of the NREA, lauded Wood's winning project. "This was a wonderfully written proposal that exemplifies the kind of place-based student engagement we were looking for. The NREA looks forward to working with the Rural Schools Collaborative to share the stories that will be created by Andrea's students." Jim Beddow, RSC chair, echoed Pratt's sentiments, "It is our hope that this kind of excellent place-based scholarship will encourage other rural teachers to explore how they and their students can impact rural communities through thoughtful academic work with a public purpose."

Wood, who grew up in rural Wyoming, has developed a project that is truly collaborative. In addition to partnering with several local and regional organizations, the project has matching support of $2,500. This element of collaboration is essential to Digital Stories of Rural Wyoming, and the cooperative nature of the project is clearly articulated in Wood's proposal:

Moorcroft High School serves approximately 180 students in a small, rural community of northeastern Wyoming. As the English teacher, I look for highly engaging, technology driven curriculum that fits the rural and remote characteristics of my school and community. Place-based education within the context of project based learning, as applied through digital storytelling fits perfectly.

In this project, Moorcroft
High School students, collaborating with the Crook County Promotion Board, the Texas Trails Museum and other community entities will research, write and record a series of digital stories (walking/driving tours) for Moorcroft, Wyoming and the surrounding ranch lands. Every place has a story; it is up to the students to give the world the story of OUR place. This is our way of helping people find a connection to our community beyond a route on a lonely highway from here to there.

Our area has a rich ranching and railroad history, but it is not always known or appreciated by our youth or newcomers to our community. This project offers an opportunity to learn and share those stories in our student's own voices. Their final products, recorded by the students themselves, will be included in the official TravelStorys ( app for download by locals and tourists. This project is designed to increase student knowledge of their community and history through collaboration and authentic product development resulting in a greater appreciation for the culture and history of our area, an improved connection to our current community and increased tourist visitation leading to local economic impact.

The Rural Schools Collaborative wants to thank Dr. Pratt and the NREA board of directors for co-sponsoring the National Signature Grant Award, which is a featured component of the 2018-19 Grants in Place program. Since 2015 Grants in Place partners have awarded more than $400,000 to rural teachers and schools in support of place-based education and community-centered learning.

Andrea Driskill Wood was raised at the foot of Devils Tower National Monument, in rural Wyoming, as the seventh generation on her family’s Campstool Ranch. She grew up working at both the ranch and her grandmother’s business, the Devils Tower KOA, where she learned the importance of the agriculture and tourism industries.

She graduated from Hulett High School where she was active in volleyball, basketball and track as well as FFA. She went on to Laramie County Community College where she served as the Wyoming State FFA Association Reporter and student body president. After graduation she moved home and spent a year working in the Crook County school systems as a para-educator Her time there cemented her desire to become a teacher and she went in to earn teaching degrees and certifications from the University of Wyoming, Chadron State College and Black Hills State University. After teaching in Upton and Gillette, Wyoming, she returned to Crook County as the English Language Arts 9-10 teacher and Yearbook advisor at Moorcroft High School.

Wood strongly believes in the value of place based education as a means to help students gain a greater understanding of themselves, their communities and the legacies that define each. Place Based Education offers opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the history and culture of their home regions while learning critical reading, writing and speaking skills.

This project, in particular, provides structured guidance in research, narrative writing and speaking for students as they develop authentic projects for the Travel Storys app, available on Android and iOS platforms. These stories, available to anyone who downloads the app, will pay homage to the unique history of rural, northeastern Wyoming and the people who paved the way for current generations.

She lives with her husband and two small children on his family’s Deer Creek Ranch north of Moorcroft.

†Dr. Jim Beddow, longtime RSC advocate, board member and chair emeritus, and passed away on June 25, 2023. Read more about his legacy.

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