Annenberg Participants Reflect in the Wilds

By Robert C. Johnston — July 09, 1997 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Last week’s first-ever gathering for the Annenberg Rural Challenge was, well, distinctly rural. It wasn’t even called a conference. The three-day event, which drew nearly 300 participants to talk about the $50 million matching-grant program, was called a “summer rendezvous.”

Rather than meet in Denver, the group met in Granby, Colo., two hours north west. The Rural Challenge’s national office operate out of a former hunting lodge in the small town. And instead of large sessions, participants strolled outside in pairs and met with strangers in “home groups” to discuss ways to link school and communities--one of the program’s major goals.

There were no big-name speakers featured at the event, and journal-writing was mandatory.

“Most conference assume that the people coming are vessels that need to be filled,” said Toni Haas, the program’s co-national director. “We set this up to create chance for them to share what they know.”

The Rural Challenge is part of a $500 million commitment to public education launched by philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg in 1993.

Despite the gathering’s reflective nature, there was serious interest in a new evaluation of the 2-year-old program, which seeks to strengthen ties between rural communities and young people, often through schools. Led by the Harvard University graduate school of education, the evaluation will extend through 2000.

A group of “field-research associates” in eight of the program’s 25 project sites is already working with Harvard-based coordinators on surveys, interviews, and data collection. The goal, said one member of the evaluating team, “is to see what works and what doesn’t work.” A preliminary report is scheduled to be released this fall.

The evaluation site and host states are: Tillamook County Education Consortium, Oregon.; Program for Rural and Community Renewal, South Dakota; School at the Center, Nebraska; Breaking New Ground in Appalachian Education, Kentucky and West Virginia; Integrating Indigenous Knowledge in Alaska Education; Texas Interfaith Education Fund; Pacers’ Small School Collaborative, Alabama; and a project in Selbourne, Pa

Student presentations on hometown projects were among the gathering’s highlights. For example, “More Than Just Cheese” in Cabot, Vt., pairs 20 students with local businesses for the summer to show them that there’s more to the town and its job opportunities than the local creamery.

“Most people think that if they’re going to do something, they have to go to an urban area, but this program shows them they can have a life there,” said Palmer Legare, a senior at the 250-student Cabot High School.

Cody Minor, a freshman at the 200-student Idalia School in eastern Colorado, described a nature center his school is building. If all goes well, students will grow tomatoes and sell them to local grocers, as well as provide worms for visiting fishermen. Flowers already grow on the half acre plot, which Mr. Minor hopes will be a popular visiting site for residents of a local senior citizens’ center.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the July 09, 1997 edition of Education Week


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)