Kansas State University (KSU) was founded in 1863 as the state's first land-grant college and institution of higher education. Originally named Kansas State Agricultural College, the university's attention to rural landscapes and rural life dates back to its very inception. Entering its fifth decade, KSU's Rural Education Center (previously called the Center for Rural Education and Small Schools) has partnered with Rural Schools Collaborative to connect with a national network of rural schools as well as higher-education institutions and organizations focused on rural teachers and rural education. Lori Goodson, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and the Rural Education Center's (REC) Assistant Director, shares that, "We see [the REC's] involvement with the RSC network as our opportunity to reach beyond the walls of our College of Education and help rural schools and other stakeholders join forces to truly raise their voices for the good of rural communities in Kansas and beyond."
The Rural Education Center, led by Spencer Clark (Director), Lori Goodson (Assistant Director), and Diane Beets (Program Coordinator) is working hard to rewrite the rural narrative; Lori notes that “we need to rewrite the rural narrative to help [the] broader society move away from a deficit perspective regarding rural schools and shift to an assets-based perspective … Rural schools and communities are so unique and distinct, we want to make sure that others know authentic stories of rural life.”
The REC works to reach all the rural school districts throughout the state, especially those districts in the southeast, southwest, and northwest regions of Kansas, and it has several main aims:
Generate grants and other projects to help rural schools districts
Create a homegrown workforce for schools
Advance rural student leadership in the College of Education
Help generate place-based curriculum that makes use of the unique learning available to rural schools
In just the past two years, the REC has been doing some amazing work to support rural education and rural teachers throughout Kansas through a variety of programs and projects, including:
LEAPES (Learning Exploration and Application for Prospective Engineering Students): A collaborative project funded by a 2.7 million dollar grant from the Department of Defense that promotes STEM education among 7th - 12th grade students throughout the state.
ED ASTRA (Education Advocates Supporting Teachers in Rural Areas), which launched in the fall of 2021. According to Lori Goodson, ED ASTRA is a program “designed to emphasize future rural educators” by creating a community of rural-focused future teachers.
RPDS (Rural Professional Development School) Network: Launched in 2020 and expanded in 2021, the RPDS Network is a critical part of the REC’s efforts to create opportunities for all Kansas rural districts. It brings together representatives from school districts across the state to help address the most pressing needs of rural schools by providing a discussion space and forum to share best practices, explore grant opportunities, and highlight accomplishments.
Rural Schools Collaborative is excited to forge this new partnership with the REC at Kansas State University and to begin working together in support of a whole new region of rural schools and communities. The REC’s long history of direct and personable engagement at the grassroots level, and strong drive to change the narrative around rural places, exemplifies the mission-driven regional collaboration RSC strives to uphold. This partnership will be an incredible opportunity to collaboratively pursue shared visions of a thriving rural ecosystem focused on the power of place and the unique leadership of rural educators in their home communities.
You can keep up with the work that they’re doing through the REC newsletter, Rural Crossroads.
September 1, 2022
In partnership with the Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) and Northern Arizona University's Rural Resource Center (NAURRC)
August 24, 2022
A visit with the Alabama GRAD Partnership Hub Coordinator and partners at the University of West Alabama