Rural Professional Development Schools Network
The Rural Education Center has established a Rural Professional Development School network to help address rural schools' most pressing needs, provide a forum to share best practices, explore grant opportunities and highlight accomplishments.
Eight districts have joined the initial effort to date and all are part of the Kansas State Department of Education's school redesign project:
- USD #220 – Ashland USD
- USD #379 – Clay County
- USD #482 – Dighton
- USD #474 – Haviland
- USD #215 – Lakin
- USD #480 – Liberal
- USD #438 – Skyline
- USD #240 – Twin Valley (Bennington and Tescott)
Drawing on its award-winning Professional Development School model with school districts in the Manhattan area, the rural network provides a collaborative forum designed specifically for rural schools.
The seeds for the Rural Professional Development School network were sewn when representatives from the partnering rural districts met following the center's inaugural Rural Education Summit in 2019 on the K-State campus.
Districts in the Rural Professional School Development network are already benefiting from the Rural Education Center's recent grant. Thanks to the Teaching Rural Students STEM through Tele-Presence national grant, robots will bring more learning opportunities to rural schools. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the center will receive a $146,031 Teaching Rural Students STEM Through Telepresence grant designed to create a distance learning network to benefit rural schools, with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math.
The telepresence grant is part of the USDA's $42.5 million investment in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. The USDA will provide the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents. In Kansas, the grant is expected to serve 2,360 rural students and 37,964 residents in rural communities.
The funds, used solely on equipment for the schools, will purchase 36 Double Robotics robots, which allow educators to teach and interact with their students who are at a different location. The schools will also receive Apple iPads and laptops, as well as other equipment necessary for the project.