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.
Brian Skinner - Newton, KS
Rural teachers are the heartbeats of their community, encouraging students to do their best and supporting programs in their schools. Brian Skinner is a high school special education teacher from Newton, Kansas, who was named a 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year for his outstanding work with his students.
This story is especially near-and-dear to Rural Schools Collaborative Executive Director, Taylor McCabe-Juhnke. Taylor first met Brian when they were in the same class at Bethel College, in North Newton, Kansas, and Brian now teaches at Taylor’s hometown high school alma mater, Newton High School.
We’d like to thank our partners at Kansas State University for leading the Rural Schools Collaborative Kansas Regional Hub, where Brian is based. Special thanks to Brian for sharing his story, and congratulations again on being a Kansas Rural Teacher of the Year. The I Am A Rural Teacher Project is a collaborative project with the National Rural Education Association.
Shawntasia Butler - Morehead, KY
Many imagine rural communities as homogenous, non-diverse places, but in recent years especially quite the opposite is true. With rural populations diversifying in a variety of ways, it is critical now more than ever for teachers to be representatives and role models for the students they serve.
Shawntasia Butler is a third-year educator in Morehead, Kentucky, who believes that her identities as a special education teacher and as a black woman are solidly intertwined. We talked with Shawntasia about how she helps students value the ways that diverse rural communities celebrate their differences while bonding over what makes them the same.
We’d like to thank our partners at Morehead State University and the National Rural Education Association for collaborating with us on this episode. Special thanks to Shawntasia for sharing her story, being a role model for her students, and serving on the Young Educators’ Advisory Council. The I Am A Rural Teacher Project is made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Osbaldo Gonzalez - Nyssa, OR
Education is an invaluable force for the health and strength of rural communities. Osbaldo (Ozzie) Gonzalez, a first-year, Dual Language elementary teacher in Nyssa, Oregon, knows this first-hand. Ozzie is passionate about building a sense of hope, empowerment, and determination in his students, a lifelong mindset that he worked hard to cultivate within himself.
We’d like to thank our partners at Eastern Oregon University for connecting us with Ozzie for this episode, and our partners at the National Rural Education Association for collaborating with us. A special thank you to Ozzie for taking the time to meet with us after the school day, and for being an incredible rural teacher. The I Am a Rural Teacher project is made possible by a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Maximillion Frommelt - Dodgeville, WI
Max Frommelt, a digital media teacher in Wisconsin and a member of RSC’s Young Educators’ Advisory Council, is only in his second year of teaching at Dodgeville High School, but he has hit the ground running by building an innovative, new program from scratch. In this episode, we talked with Max about his own experiences in school and how they led him to become the teacher he is today.
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.
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!