National Writing Project

About Rural Sites Network

Rural Sites Network (RSN) was a national network that linked teachers in rural areas together through the sites of the National Writing Project.


  • To implement national programs to increase sites' capacity to carry out programs, strengthen professional development, facilitate cross-site communication, support research, and develop new ways of sharing rural teachers' work at local and national levels.
  • To provide support for site leaders and teachers as they discover new ways to build on their strengths and address challenges.
  • To support teacher-consultants and site directors in celebrating place, honoring diversity, conducting research, and designing community-based programs by offering minigrants, national meetings, spring conferences, resource development retreats, and links to other NWP programs.


Formed in 1992, the RSN began with conversations among NWP site leaders and teachers from small towns and rural areas. They discovered several shared challenges: difficulty in implementing new ideas and school reform; tough economic circumstances such as declining populations, school closings, and high poverty levels; and large service areas that made it difficult to attract teachers to summer institutes and maintain continuity programs.

In 1996, funding from the Annenberg Rural Challenge (now the Annenberg Rural School & Community Trust) enabled RSN teacher-consultants from six states to engage in place-based inquiry and reflection. The project, known as Rural Voices, Country Schools (RVCS), resulted in the creation of dynamic strategies for fostering community involvement in student learning and school reform.

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