“I’m Not Where I Want to Be”

Hidden Heroes in Rural Schools: Teaching Principals

Presented by: Dr. Dawn Wallin, Dr. Paul Newton, Mickey Jutras & Jordan Adilman

In Rural Schools a lack of resources is an accepted norm. Though this is an obvious
deficit, it creates resourceful, innovative, and multi-talented staff. This presentation focused on the pros and cons of teaching principles. The most common pattern found was feelings of guilt among these figures who are expected to act in many roles. “They’re simply spread too thin.” Often these individuals are left feeling like they can’t fulfill any role to a standard they are pleased with, instead, doing an “okay” job at everything. They feel a significant gap in instructional leadership- when in reality they are doing plenty, but simply not recognizing it as so. Despite facing challenges, like not receiving a vice principal (whether due to budgetary reasons, or not being able to redistribute already slim admin time), difficulties balancing workload, little time to evaluate staff, etc. they provide innovative solutions. Examples of this are sharing programs between schools (extracurriculars) and capitalizing on existing expertise. More than anything these principles presence within the school is phenomenal, every decision they make is a conscience one, as they at work in every sector.

Though these principles, these schools, and these communities, deserve recognition
and praise for not just surviving but thriving under less than ideal circumstances, they all deserve more. They asked every participant “Is it because you’re a small school, or because you’re a rural school?” In regards to the somewhat negligent treatment from central office. This strikes a very important differentiation specific to the rural experience. So many of our current systems in place are simply not compatible with rural education. For example, special education staff is often based off birth rate in a given area, but some rural communities have little to no children who are actual born in that exact district. The genuine care these people have for their student’s success and learning experiences is quite obvious; the mindset and dedication is there, it’s a matter of properly equipping these people.


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