Grant will help share Driftless area teachers’ stories nationwide
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education recently received a grant from the Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC), a national nonprofit committed to strengthening the bonds between schools and communities. The grant is part of RSC’s I am a Rural Teacher campaign, a national advocacy effort that is supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The grant will support a collaboration between the RSC and the School of Education that will expand the Proud Rural Teacher podcast – created by Jessica Brogley, a lecturer in the School of Education – giving it a national audience.
“The podcast initially started as a platform for us to share our initiatives, connect ideas related to rural living and education, and gather stories of teaching in rural areas, as a means of providing direction, resources, and inspiration for others who are just like us,” said Brogley.
The podcast caught the attention of Gary Funk, executive director of the RSC, who found it to be a good fit for the I am a Rural Teacher campaign, which shares stories from rural teachers across the country. Collaborating with the RSC, Brogley will produce the Proud Rural Teacher Podcast: Stories from the Driftless, a special series from now until summer, that will celebrate the stories of educators in the Driftless region of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.
“We’re offering a platform for teachers in the Driftless region to share their stories of success, challenge, creative problem solving and, really, their passion for education in our rural communities,” said Brogley. “There is something very unifying in
storytelling; it can create a shared experience that provides definition, awareness and inspiration. It’s important to celebrate the uniqueness of where we live and the work teachers do in those places. I’m thankful that we have this opportunity to facilitate the storytelling that represents education in the Driftless region.
According to Funk, a goal of the I am a Rural Teacher campaign is to strengthen the capacity of partners to share their rural teacher stories, in different parts of the country. Soon the Driftless region will be among other partners’ stories – from the Missouri Ozarks to New England, Appalachia, the Alabama Black Belt region and more.
“UW-Platteville’s presence in the Driftless region and history of working with students in rural communities, who then go back and serve as teachers in small towns is a great match for us,” said Funk. “I think the School of Education colleagues have a real focus on the importance of place and are doing activities that really tell the stories of folks – like the podcast – and those really align nicely with our mission and what we are trying to accomplish.”
With approximately 80% of School of Education graduates teaching in rural places, UW-Platteville is well poised for this partnership, said Dr. Jennifer Collins, director of the School of Education.
“It’s so cool to think that here in Southwest Wisconsin, there is such an opportunity for us to have our stories shared nationally,” said Collins. “There is real value in hearing our stories, just like everyone else’s stories. Particularly now, it’s important that we demonstrate that we value those voices and they have meaning and impact. It is so exciting.”
Written by: Alison Parkins, associate director of Public Relations, UW-Platteville, firstname.lastname@example.org
Staying current with last week’s theme of digital storytelling, I wanted to share with you another example of the importance of recording our history. As part of a class assignment, one of my students, Jalen Schmitz, chose to learn how to use Soundtrap to record an interview with his grandfather about his time as a farmer in Lancaster in Southwest Wisconsin. It’s such a nice example of how we can leverage technology to facilitate conversation and capture a piece of our rural heritage. I’m hoping you’ll feel inspired by Jalen’s work and interview someone who has a story to tell.
Google Meet allows you to record conversations when you can’t meet in person. In a nutshell, you’ll start your own meeting and click “add people.” From there you can add by email or by phone number, as Jalen did. Just warn your guest that their caller id will say “Google Meet” and not your name. 🙂 After they’ve joined the call, click the three dots in the bottom right corner and click record. Once you’re done, stop the recording and hangup. The file will arrive in your Google Drive account and you’ll be notified via email.
Soundtrap allows you to edit the recorded conversation. For example, if there was downtime or disruptions, you can clip all of those out. You can also add in background music or sound effects.
For the first half of the 20th century, if you were a kid in Southwest Wisconsin, you attended a one-room school. K-8, one room, one teacher. You walked miles to school throughout the seasons, and spent a tremendous amount of time with the same group of people. In Grant County, by 1912, we had 201 one-room schoolhouses, but by the end of the WWII, schools began consolidating. By 1950, most were gone. Today, some have been converted into homes, but many have been lost. Something though, that hasn’t are the stories. Today you’ll meet a dear friend of mine, Ron Weier of Platteville Wisconsin, who attended the Bloomfield school in the mid to late 50s. Bloomfield was centrally placed between Mineral Point and Dodgeville and served about 10 families. This type of school was pretty representative for our area. Part of our rural spirit, rests in capturing, understanding, and appreciating where we’ve come from. Enjoy today’s chat — it’s part of our history.
You can read more about Grant County Rural Schools at the Wisconsin State Historical Society Website. There are lots of photographs too!
Someday be sure to visit the Southwest Wisconsin Room at UW-Platteville where you can enjoy amazing resources about our local history.
In this episode you’ll meet Gary Funk, Director of the Rural School Collaborative. The RSC’s mission is “to build sustainable rural communities through a keen focus on place, teachers, and philanthropy.”
In this conversation we are focusing on two funding and support opportunities for educators — the National Signature Project Award and the Grants in Place Fellows Program.
To learn more about the RSC, visit their website at https://ruralschoolscollaborative.org/.
Today’s podcast episode features Laurie Heimsoth, a 5th grader teacher at Mineral Point Elementary in Southwest Wisconsin. Laurie, like many teachers, has moved her class to remote learning at home. Mineral Point is considered a rural area where not all kids have access, but Laurie has done a great job preparing her crew for this change in environment. Listen to hear how she is making the transition. 🙂
Laurie’s email: email@example.com
In this podcast episode you’ll meet Jerry Apps, Wisconsin author, speaker, and storyteller on Wisconsin history, agriculture, and our rural heritage. Over the years, I’ve read his books, blog posts, and I’ve been able to hear him speak. I’m always left feeling a sense of gratitude for rural Southwest Wisconsin. His words are important to share because it reminds us that where we live…matters, and we should be fostering that narrative. As you listen to this episode, I am hoping that you’ll be able to gather some ideas of how you can facilitate learning about our past, our culture, and our rural heritage so the next generation can also feel that sense of gratitude and pride.
Information about the work of Jerry Apps:
Resources to get started in 4h, county fairs, and Wisconsin Dairy Breakfast events:
https://4h.extension.wisc.edu/ (4h in Wisconsin, specifically)
Resources to start a school garden:
Resources to teach Agriculture (k-12):
This fall our School of Education has developed a new position called “Recruitment & Retention Specialist.” For a small School of Education in a rural area, this type of investment is important as we strive to support our students through their undergraduate career and encourage incoming freshman to consider education as a career. Kayla Murphy joined the school of education this fall to lead the charge. Listen to discover how Kayla has developed programming, redesigned a student center, collaborated on cross-departmental outreach, and increased prospective student traffic as our students prepare for entering teaching in rural areas. Kayla’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This first episode provides an overview of the mission of the Proud Rural Teacher podcast.