WILBURTON, OK (May 22, 2018) – Four Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP team members joined over 300 educators from around the US for the 2018 Rural College Access and Success Summit in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Attending were Education Coordinator Denise Lovell, Education Coordinator Tara Martin, Professional Development Coordinator John Spiegel and Project Director Linda Morgan.
The conference began with a panel for the opening session, “What Is Rural?” The session challenged conventional notions of what rural America looks like, while exploring the many social economic factors that link these diverse communities. Panelists were Dr. Sean Alford, superintendent of Aiken County, South Carolina Public Schools; Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction; John Davis, vice president of external affairs, Strive Together, and founding director of the Indianola (Mississippi) Promise Neighborhood; and Celesta Riffe, project director GEAR UP East Kentucky, Partners for Education at Berea College.
Educational practitioners ranging from state administrators to campus leaders will discuss the importance of teacher professional development and the use of varied delivery strategies to support the academic goals of traditionally underserved students during the luncheon plenary. Panelists were Derek Carlson, principal, Delta High School, Colorado; Ann Ellefson, director of academic support, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction; Anthony Mires, executive director, AdvanceKentucky; Randal Palmer, principal for Paonia Junior-Senior High School, Colorado; and Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, superintendent, Knob Noster, Missouri Public Schools.
Hasan Davis, J.D. shared his journey through the education, justice and social systems during Monday’s closing session. Attendees received a free copy if Davis’ book, “Written Off.”
Tuesday morning’s “Ready or Not: Stories from Behind the Statistics” plenary featured members of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team sharing what they learned by writing a book about other young people across Kentucky who are navigating the transition from high school to college. “Ready or Not: Stories from Students Behind the Statistics” touch on a range of themes, including the limits of the ACT as a college-readiness test, rural and urban cultural pulls, the impact of parent and teacher support, Kentucky’s school counseling crisis and college affordability.
“Moving the Dial on Rural” plenary featured Taimarie Adams, director of government relations, Service Year Alliance; Colin Groth, vice president, StriveTogether; and Ranjit Sidhu, executive director, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. Today the need for partnerships is greater than ever, and practitioners at all levels are seeing that cross-sector coalitions—ones that encompass organizations that promote job growth, mental and physical health, addiction support, and more—are critical to creating educational success. Panelists discussed the need to foster partnerships at the local, regional and national levels to leverage resources on the scale needed to improve outcomes for all members of rural communities.
Dr. Jill Biden, EdD, Board Chair of Save the Children US, and former Second Lady of the US, addressed the need to prepare students of all ages for academic and life success during the closing session. A lifelong educator, Biden served as Second Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
Team members attended numerous workshops throughout the conference.