National Writing Project

Rural Sites Network Welcomes New Leaders

By: Robert Lamm
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 5, No. 1
Date: January-February 2000

Summary: The NWP Rural Sites Network (RSN) celebrated recent achievements while advancing in new and exciting directors at its annual half-day meeting in Denver in November.

 

The NWP Rural Sites Network (RSN) celebrated recent achievements while advancing in new and exciting directions at its annual half-day meeting in Denver in November.

A new team of RSN leaders stepped forward at the meeting: Joye Alberts (Oklahoma State University WP), Josie Bourdon (Alaska State Writing Consortium), Ellen Brinkley (Third Coast WP), Libby Carnohan (Chesterfield WP), Ann Dobie (NWP of Acadiana), Frances Doss (Alcorn WP), Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (NWP), Richard Louth (Southeastern Louisiana WP), Carol MacDaniels (Nebraska WP), Laura Paradise (NWP) and Donald Wolff (Oregon WP at EOU).

Ellen Brinkley will chair RSN, while RSN founder and former director Ann Dobie will stay with the leadership team to ease the transition. Speaking for the NWP, Ellen honored Ann with a testimonial and a gift of a beautiful scarf. (See related article.)

Ellen announced plans to continue important programs already established by RSN:

  • minigrants funding innovative programs at rural sites;
  • connections through the RSN listserv and website;
  • the annual half-day meeting held in conjunction with NWP/NCTE;
  • the Rural Directions Retreat, which likely will be a biennial event.

Ellen's vision for RSN includes a continuation of the work of the Rural Voices, Country School program. RVCS, funded over the last three years by an Annenberg Challenge grant, consisted of site-based teams of teacher researchers in six states. Although the major funding now has run out, RVCS has just begun to yield publications and even a series of radio programs. The legacy of RVCS includes liaisons with other rural groups and most importantly a corps of leaders and experienced researchers networked originally through retreats and now through conferences, email and enduring friendships.

Ellen hopes to secure new funding for RSN through grants. The Annenberg Challenge funding is a thing of the past, but a more modest incarnation of the Challenge, known as the Rural School and Community Trust, might be willing to fund some RSN functions.

The RSN leadership team will study and act on the products of these discussions at their next meeting, planned in conjunction with the upcoming Urban Sites Network meeting in Chicago in April. By meeting concurrently with their urban counterparts, RSN leaders hope to learn from a long-established network.

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