"My experience with the Alliance has been professionally and personally deeply satisfying." — Jerry Dyar
“The rural alliance has shown me the educational opportunities of collaboration." —Kevin Jacka
I always wanted to be an educator but after college I took a lengthy detour in business. Mid-life I decided it was time. I went back to college, got counselor certification, and landed my first job in a small rural school in Springdale. I planned on staying for three years and move on to a larger school I ended up staying 29 years—one of my best decisions ever. For all the challenges, rural schools have much to offer—you know every student. These relationships invest you not just in student success but the success of each student. I used to think schools on their own could provide the education needed for college, career, and citizenship. But preparing children for a good future takes everyone doing their share. For equity in opportunity for all children, schools, students, parents, communities, colleges, business, and many others must be equal partners in the effort.
Students in Springdale did not have the same opportunities for college and careers as students in larger more affluent districts. There were no college prep classes. Many of our students had never even visited a college, and most thought college was for other kids. It was the same at other small districts in our area. In 2002, Springdale joined forces with 9 other districts to provide our students some of the opportunities routinely available in urban and suburban districts. By working together, we found the resources—through cost-sharing and grants--to bring in quality academic courses and college awareness programs. It changed our schools, and our students started to believe college was a real possibility for them. If collaboration worked for nine districts, we thought we should reach out to others to join us. In the first year, 2010, we had 34 districts take part. Now it’s 79 districts along with many colleges, universities, and education organizations.