Happy Anniversary to the CO Rural Ed Collaborative!
Our collaborative is now officially one year old! Last year at this time, we were meeting in Pueblo, bringing educators together to design what this collaborative could look like. We brainstormed, learned together, and got to know each other. We also set the direction of the Collaborative, defined the needs of rural CO districts, and pledged to take our best ideas to the next level through collaborative action! What an exciting year it's been!
Thank you to all of our superintendents, principals, and teachers that have engaged in this work, our BOCES leadership that have been integral connectors for the Collaborative! Special thanks to our partners at CSU-Pueblo, CSU-Global, CO Dept. of Higher Education, CO Dept. of Education, Generation Schools Network, Battelle for Kids, Share Fair Nation, and the CO Rural Alliance for their commitment to advancing opportunity, equity, and prosperity for the students of rural CO!
Check out our members (30 districts strong!) and see what they've been working on this year!
BIG NEWS: Our next convening will be held October 28, 2016 in Pueblo, CO at Share Fair Nation! SAVE THE DATE! Mark your calendars, more details coming soon! What to expect: a meeting of Collaborative Superintendents, free world-class professional learning for your staff, and a job fair for potential teacher candidates.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer, great weather, and lots of adventure and/or relaxation! We will suspend our regular weekly emails until August, but don’t worry we will be in touch on timely items over the summer months.
Occasionally in our newsletter series we will have guest writers contribute their thoughts or perspective on something. Today is one of those instances, Angela R. Powers, Rural Education Project Coordinator, from CSU-Pueblo, is sharing her impressions of our recent recruitment pilot program. Thanks for contributing Angie!
The first Experience Rural Colorado teacher recruitment event, a collaboration among the CO Rural Education Collaborative, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Generation Schools Network, Battelle for Kids, and the South Central BOCES, took place May 17-19 in Huerfano County. Funded by an Improving Teacher Quality grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, this collaborative approach to teacher recruitment utilized an “immersion experience” to bring eight prospective teachers to visit the rural communities of Walsenburg and Gardner.
The five men and three women that participated in the pilot immersion experience all currently live in Colorado, but traveled from the Denver and Colorado Springs areas, Pueblo, Cañon City, and Alamosa. Some have completed teacher education programs, while others are interested in becoming teachers via an alternative licensing approach.
Candidates began their experience by sharing lunch with school and community leaders and hearing about the communities and the need for rural teachers. This was followed by a bus tour of the area and a walking tour of Peakview K-8 School and John Mall High School in Walsenburg. After school, teachers and administrators from Peakview and Gardner schools joined the candidates in a professional development session to prepare for the next day’s student activities. A team-building maze and the career-focused activities got everyone moving and talking and provided another opportunity for the guests to learn about teaching in rural communities from the people who do it every day.
The first day concluded with a delicious dinner at Walsenburg’s La Plaza Inn for the professional development participants and leaders. The house-made cobbler was a particular highlight!
On Day 2, candidates again boarded a bus, this time for the 27-mile-trek out to Gardner School in tiny Gardner, CO. The school serves not only students from the hamlet and surrounding areas, but a number of Walsenburg children whose families have chosen the smaller-school environment. About 70 students attend grades K-8. Candidates were treated to poster presentations by the 5-6 grade students about the school and community.
Next, candidates and teachers spent time leading students through team-building and career exploration activities. Participants had a chance to interact with students and school personnel were able to see candidates “in action” as educators. Because of the small size of the school, all Gardner students in grades 1-8 were able to participate.
After another bus ride and school lunch at Peakview, candidates repeated the student activities with three groups of students there.
Candidates had the opportunity to participate in an interview session with principals from other nearby districts, as well as the Peakview and Gardner principals. Administrators described their schools and open positions, then candidates and principals used a “dance-card” approach to schedule 15-minute interviews with individuals.
Following interviews, candidates were able to relax a little at a young professional’s dinner at the La Plaza Inn. Several local residents, as well as Walsenburg’s new city administrator, attended, thanks to the efforts of the innkeeper, who is also a passionate advocate for the town and its schools.
Candidates learned a lot, and reported that they appreciated the opportunity to be immersed in a rural community. Organizers also learned quite a bit, and plan to hold two additional immersion experiences in other South Central BOCES communities in fall 2016, with the hope of rolling out an immersion experience recruitment strategy across all districts in the CO Rural Education Collaborative.
The CO Rural Ed Collaborative is growing!
In the last month the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative has welcomed seven new members:
• Holly School District RE-3
• Kim School District RE-88
• Kiowa County School District Re-1
• Lamar School District RE-2
• McClave School District RE-2
• Springfield School District RE-4
• Walsh School District RE-1
With these additions, we are now at 30 member districts, reaching over 12,000 students and 987 teachers across 7 BOCES! Check out the map to see our footprint. We look forward to continued collaboration to improve rural educational opportunity and economic prosperity.
2016 Share Fair Partnership
We are excited to offer another awesome opportunity for rural teacher professional development with our partners at Share Fair Nation! Last month we administered superintendent and teacher surveys to gather feedback on the 2015 Rural Share Fair. We will use the feedback to determine the best dates and programming for this year’s Share Fair event. Stay tuned for a Save the Date!
Teacher Practice Network
Nineteen teacher curators and two lead curators were selected for the CO Teacher Practice Network, representing 13 Collaborative districts! Curators attended an onboarding webinar this week so they are ready to jump into the work. We could not have done it without the encouragement and leadership of our Superintendents and BOCES! Thank you!
Rural Teacher Recruitment and Retention
CSU–Pueblo and South Central BOCES have started marketing the pilot teacher recruitment immersion experience in Huerfano School District in May. Partners are designing community engagement experiences for teacher candidates that, research shows, increases the chances of them choosing to teach in rural communities. This pilot will inform additional recruitment immersion experiences in SC BOCES and, eventually, across the Collaborative.
Rural Teacher Preparation
Sixteen teacher candidates are participating in our shared concurrent enrollment credentialing pilot in partnership with CSU–Global Campus and Santa Fe Trail BOCES. Teachers will gain either a Master's degree or 18 credit hours’ certification to teach ELA or Math concurrent enrollment courses.
Congratulations to the Fowler School District R4J community, which has fundraised $150,000 in grant awards and $57,600 in donations toward school building remodeling projects. Way to go!