Welcome to the I Am a Rural Teacher Podcast, a project of the Rural Schools Collaborative. We began with Julia Levine in 2020 to explore what it means to be a rural teacher from six different perspectives around the country. Now, we are continuing the project with other RSC staff members.
Taylor Kilgore and Linda Hooper - Whitwell, TN
Content Warning: This episode contains mentions of the Holocaust.
The bonds forged among people in rural places are often driven by how community members can relate to each other, and how they share something in common. However, rural schools can also create a fantastic environment for learning about other cultures in a real, one-on-one way.
Taylor Kilgore and Linda Hooper collaboratively run the renowned Paper Clips Project at Whitwell High School in rural Tennessee, which focuses on remembering and learning from the tragedy of the Holocaust. These two outstanding educators share how this project has not only been a classroom lesson for their students, but a medium for deeper understanding and connection between community members.
Lola Rubio Alberca - Spain
Rural schools around the world have more in common than one might expect, regardless of their latitude and longitude. In particular, teacher shortages continue to heavily impact rural communities, and several organizations have made the decision to act and find and retain exemplary talent for rural schools.
In this episode, we spoke with Lola Rubio Alberca about her experiences in a rural-focused teaching program in Spain. She shares how her time as a rural primary teacher changed and refreshed her perspective on education.
We’d like to thank our partners at our Princess of Girona Foundation and the National Rural Education Association for collaborating with us on this episode. The I Am a Rural Teacher campaign is made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Barb McArthy and Suzy Tomm - Carmi, IL
Working in the public school system presents a unique set of challenges, especially in rural places, and certainly when it comes to special education. In this episode, we visited veteran educators Barbara (Barb) McArthy and Suzy Tomm on-site in their classrooms in Carmi, Illinois, to discuss how teaching in a rural place impacts their ability to meet the needs of their students.
Haley Salitros Lancaster - Vincennes, IN
Place-based projects inspire students to engage with their surroundings and assume leadership in their educational explorations. Haley Lancaster, a high school English teacher from Vincennes, Indiana, lives and breathes the history of her place. Hoping to motivate her students to become good stewards of the town, Haley applied for, and was awarded, the 2021 National Signature Project Award. Haley shares how this project exemplifies everything she loves about living and teaching in her rural hometown.
Netta Davis - Sarah, MS
The dedication of a teacher to their students is one of the enduring qualities of the profession. Aquenetta (Netta) Davis, an outstanding rural teacher in Mississippi, has traveled around the country, putting down roots in numerous states through her time in the military and later in education. Yet at each stop along the way, her belief that “all students can learn” has driven her work to educate and inspire everyone who enters her classroom. Netta spoke with us to share more about her story, and what drives her work to make education and achievement accessible to all.
Matt Jaeger - Bellevue, IA
Special thanks to Jason Neises, our Iowa Hub contact at Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, for connecting us with Bellevue Schools, and to Tom Meyer, superintendent of Bellevue School District, for partnering with Rural Schools Collaborative on this story. Read more about Bellevue Schools and CFGD here.
When faced with adversity, rural schools often turn to innovation as a way of not just rising above their challenges, but of defining an even higher path forward. Our Iowa Hub partners at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque have often worked with inspired schools doing this kind of transformational work, such as the Bellevue School District in Bellevue, Iowa.
Wanting to see their work first-hand, the Rural Schools Collaborative team traveled to Bellevue and interviewed Matt Jaeger and his students. A high school social studies teacher and coach, Matt is the co-leader of the district’s innovative, student-led project-based learning site: Bellevue BIG. He shares in this episode how teachers eager to break the traditional mold find these student-led initiatives just as fulfilling and energizing for themselves as they do for students.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the I Am A Rural Teacher Podcast. We’d like to thank our partners at the National Rural Education Association and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque for collaborating with us on this episode. The I Am a Rural Teacher campaign is made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This is such a well-written and touching podcast. I loved the first two episodes so far. The rural corners of our country often get forgotten but there is a lot of value in listening to their wisdom on community care.
Love this podcast !
As a social worker in a rural area in the south I really appreciated this podcast. I learned so much!