Work Continues to Connect Rural Schools


August 9, 2013


State coordinators and SEA leaders meeting at EdNW

Education Northwest, along with state education agency (SEA) staff from around the region, is continuing work on the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network, an innovative collaboration through which members will share common problems of practice and work to improve student outcomes. The Northwest Comprehensive Center (NWCC) is launching the network in partnership with the SEA representatives and with internationally known researchers and educators Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley of Boston College.

On July 30, Shirley traveled to Portland to meet with a design team made up of Education Northwest state coordinators and SEA leaders representing the five Northwest states. The team has been holding biweekly virtual meetings to develop recommendations and eight critical network design elements, and this face-to-face collaboration provided a chance to deepen this process.

During the day-long meeting, design teams reviewed their recommendations, which include in-person and virtual networking activities and support for new initiatives, and discussed how they’ll share them with their respective SEAs. Team members met in pairs and as a larger group to assess their process thus far and what steps they’ll take next.

Much of the conversation revolved around rural communities and their needs. “This is a critical priority,” said Shirley of the network. “Schools can’t do this alone. They need their communities and they need strong policy,” added Education Northwest’s Vicki Nishioka, who serves as state coordinator for Oregon.

In August, the complete SEA teams will gather with NWCC staff and partners from Boston College to approve and finalize the network design before turning over leadership to a steering committee composed of school and district stakeholders from across the region.