Tiny Rural Michigan School a Rare Success Story

By Mary Schulken — September 03, 2010 1 min read
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Most of the time when you read about tiny, rural schools, it’s in the context of negatives: too few resources, low student performance, and so on. Yet that’s just not true of Glenn Public School in Michigan, profiled in this recent Grand Rapids Press report.

The story is a great read, not only because it paints a nice, “Little House on the Prairie” picture but also because the facts about Glenn are just plain interesting —and rare.

Glenn, with fewer than 50 students and a one-mile-square district, is flush with cash. It’s the state’s oldest continuously operating rural school and, so far, has resisted consolidation efforts and survived Michigan’s schools of choice law. (That law, the story reports, actually made the school stronger.)

To be quite clear, Glenn is not your average small, rural school. It has so much cash because it is chock full of pricey resort homes. The story covers that.

Yet one thing stands out: Glenn lacks some basic things but has cultivated a culture that has turned those deficits into assets. An example: It doesn’t provide transportation but takes advantage of having parents on campus twice a day to get them involved.

That positive outlook is easier to cultivate when your back isn’t against the wall financially. Still, the story of Glenn Elementary is a reminder of the unique strengths small, rural schools can have—and what their larger brethren might learn from them.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.