An important part of my work as the Eleanor Rix Professor of Rural Teacher Education is connecting with rural schools and districts in BC in order to: support teachers with resources and communicative tools, showcase imaginative classroom activities, and encourage community engagement. One initiative is called Growing Innovation in Rural Sites of Learning, which explores the role of rural schools in community vitality. In partnership with the Ministry of Education and my Rural Advisory Committee, we designed grant opportunities in 2011 for projects that would feature student-led inquiries, educator collaborations, and community participation addressing a local issue, problem or interest in creative ways appropriate to location. We were especially enthusiastic about working with rural classrooms and schools that demonstrated a strong sense of place, and the resulting 18 funded projects have been clustered thematically around one of the following emphases: heritage and cultural studies, environmental investigations, community revitalization efforts, or inter-generational understandings. In 2012-13 we initiated a Webinar series led by project partners and we received a third grant from the Ministry to sustain existing projects and add several new ones in other rural school Districts. Details can be found on the Rural Teachers website.
Our community partners include funders, teachers, principals, community residents, K-12 students, Faculty of Education grad students, 18 rural communites in BC schools, local NGO’s, some Chambers of Commerce and seniors groups (varies with project). All of our school and District partners who have “Growing Innovation” projects are described (and linked) on our website where viewers will also find power point presentations, examples of student work, teacher resources, a photo gallery, a series of six videos, and selected research snapshots pertaining to the funded projects and their ties to community revitalization efforts.
Endowment for the Eleanor Rix Professor of Rural Teacher Education thanks to the Rix Family Foundation with the aim of “preparing, recruiting and supporting” teachers for rural schools across British Columbia.
Since 2011 the BC Ministry of Education has supported “Growing innovation in rural sites of learning” in eighteen school districts through three grants that total $465,000.