Episode 56

The Challenges and Opportunities for Small and Rural Schools

Guest:Kirk Koennecke and Allen Pratt

In this episode, Kirk Koennecke, the Superintendent at Graham Local Schools in Ohio, and Allen Pratt, Executive Director of the National Rural Education Association, talk about the unique needs and challenges facing rural and small schools.

Pratt tells host Carole Dorn-Bell that it’s a timely discussion because of the climate in Washington, D.C.

“When we go around the U.S. talking to different groups, this is rural education and rural small schools’ 15 minutes of fame right now,” Pratt says. “I think in Washington, they’ve paid attention, and rural is definitely a buzzword. It’s a positive culture that we have to take advantage of, and tell our story and be that voice to help all rural schools and communities.”

Koennecke says he’s used to working in school districts with more resources available, both in the community and financially, so he understands the challenges facing rural and small schools.

One key resource, he says, is the NREA.

This fall, for the second year in the row, the group will hold its national conference in Ohio, in conjunction with Columbus-based Battelle for Kids. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may be in attendance.

Pratt says he’s excited to have the conference again in Ohio, where “unbelievable educational practices” are going on.

Koennecke says events like these, where best practices are shared, are invaluable to developing educators.

“It’s empowering for our staff,” says Koennecke, who serves as Executive Director of the Ohio Small & Rural Collaborative. “It gives staff a chance to really get some rich learning.”

Koennecke says the Ohio Small & Rural Collaborative is working with Battelle to come up with some new tools for developing educators.

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