NSBA Rural Education Virtual Summit

NSBA’s Rural Virtual Summit Draws Hundreds of Education Leaders from Across the U.S.

On Dec. 13, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) held its first-ever virtual rural summit to address the intricate challenges and opportunities within rural education. Through engaging sessions with national experts, the event provided participants with valuable insights and strategies to navigate the unique landscape of rural education. 

In conjunction with the summit, NSBA released a new report on rural schools demonstrating that rural students, families, and communities deserve a voice in policymaking decisions and an investment in their educational infrastructures. Read the report and other reports from NSBA’s rural report series via this link.

Video from the summit is available under the session descriptions below.

Building Foundations That Empower Education in Rural Communities
This session outlines crucial components forming the bedrock of educational support in rural communities. Key trends, challenges, and opportunities specific to these communities are explored, offering insights into establishing robust foundations for education in remote areas.

Frank Henderson, Immediate Past-President, National School Boards Association, Board Member, USD 345, Topeka, KS
Tiffany Jackson, Director of Membership Services, Association of Alaska School Boards
Sue Ceglowski, Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association
Steven Bailey, Executive Director, Maine School Boards Association

Unlocking Potential: Panel Discussion Addressing Educational Challenges in Rural Communities
This session features national experts and thought leaders to delve into the unique obstacles faced by schools in remote areas, including limited access to resources, teacher recruitment and retention, and the impact of socioeconomic factors on educational outcomes. Panelists share innovative strategies, successful case studies, and forward-thinking solutions to bridge the educational divide in rural settings. Video of that session is below.

Stephanie Thompson, President, Farmington Municipal Schools (NM) Board of Education Western Regional


Emily Smith
, School Board Member, Helix School District Board of Directors (OR)
Bill Biermann, Superintendent of Schools, Goodland USD 352 (KS)
John Wittler, President Vilas School Board (CO); Past president Colorado Association of School Boards; Executive Director of Ogallala Commons; President and Lead Consultant Vanguard Strategic


Stories from the Field: Revitalizing Rural Education — Insights and Innovations for Success
This session features rural education experts and school board members from across the country sharing their personal journeys and inspirational stories. Each speaker focuses on the importance of equitable outcomes for every student in rural communities and the active advocacy needed to achieve this goal.

Stories and Speakers:

Navigating the Rural Educational Experience with the U.S. Department of Education
Julia Cunningham, the Director of Rural Engagement at the U.S. Department of Education, provided a comprehensive overview of the department's strategic approach to supporting rural education, sharing key insights, updates, and success stories.


The Challenge of Federal Indian Boarding Schools for Rural Native Communities, 1880s-1920s
Holly Norton
, Colorado State Archaeologist & Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, shed light on historical challenges faced by Native communities.


How the Iñupiaq Values Guide Us 
Robyn Niayuq Burke
, President of North Slope Borough School District Board of Education in Alaska, discussed challenges and successes shaping rural education in Alaska, anchored in the guiding principles of the Iñupiaq, a group of Indigenous Alaskans whose traditional territory spans northeast from Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the northernmost part of Canada.


Away from No Way: A Transformational Journey from JD to J.D.
Hasan Davis
, Founder/CEO of Hasan Davis Solutions L.L.C., shared his journey from juvenile delinquency to earning a Juris Doctor, highlighting the role of individuals who believed in his potential and employed courageous strategies to support his transformation.


Want to learn more? Register for NSBA's 2024 Rural Education Summit in New Orleans - April 5, 2024

If you enjoyed NSBA's Rural Virtual Summit, we invite you to register for NSBA's 2024 Rural Education Summit in New Orleans on April 5, 2024. This in-person summit will convene rural school board members to share experiences and learn from experts in the field. It will delve into crucial topics that are pivotal for the success of rural school districts, from addressing teacher shortages to ensuring effective special education programs, safeguarding school environments, and bridging the digital divide through broadband internet access.

Whether you serve our sprawling countryside or remote communities, this summit is designed to empower you with insights, strategies, and solutions that cater to the specific needs of rural education. Attendees will explore innovative solutions, exchange ideas, and forge a path forward to strengthen rural education and create better opportunities for students in every corner of our country.

Learn more or register via this link.