National Writing Project

Rural Sites Leader Ann Dobie Honored

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

Summary: A highlight of the recent Rural Sites Network meeting at Denver was a tribute to RSN founder Ann Dobie (Director, NWP of Acadiana).

 

A highlight of the recent Rural Sites Network meeting at Denver was a tribute to RSN founder Ann Dobie (Director, NWP of Acadiana). Ann's leadership of RSN dates back to its origin in 1992 at the suggestion of Jim Gray, who understood that there was more to NWP than just urban sites. Ann chose Joye Alberts (Oklahoma State University WP) as a co-director. Together, they chaired the first breakout session at the Louisville NWP/NCTE meeting in November 1992.

Ann had modest expectations for that first meeting, circling only a few chairs for a cozy discussion. As more and more directors entered the session, more and more chairs were added, ultimately over twenty. Much of the first meeting resembled a "gripe session," but soon RSN became a more vital part of NWP. Rural representation became part of the NWP Task Force and the annual review, increasing awareness of the uniqueness of rural sites. Articles with a rural slant were published in The Quarterly; Harold Nelson (Northern Plains WP) published an RSN newsletter; Rob Lamm (Northeast Arkansas WP) conducted surveys of the needs of rural sites.

The presence of an established rural network eventually helped Richard Sterling and Elyse Eidman-Aadahl woo a $1.8 million grant from the Annenberg Challenge, leading to a major teacher-research program known as Rural Voices, Country Schools.

Although Ellen Brinkley now will chair RSN, Ann will remain a member of the RSN national leadership team for the next two years to provide continuity.

As Ellen presented a gift to Ann on behalf of RSN members, she spoke the sentiments of many of the friends Ann has made through her writing project service: "Ann, you've been a model for us professionally, and we thank you for your insight and passion and vision as you've led the Rural Sites Network and the Rural Voices, Country Schools project. Some of the RSN teacher leaders pointed out that you've also been a model for us personally as well as professionally. One of them said, 'If you look up the word gracious in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Ann Dobie.' Ann...we thank you, we love you."

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