What if educators in small, rural schools were able to connect and collaborate with colleagues who teach the same subjects and struggle with the same challenges?
What if students in small, rural schools felt connected to their communities and engaged with their learning?
The Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network aims to answer those questions. The network convenes teachers and leaders from some of the Northwest’s most isolated and remote communities to learn from each other, share strategies to meet their unique challenges, and spread best practices of the region’s rural schools.
If NW RISE sounds like it could help your school or district improve teaching and learning, consider joining us: We are looking to grow the network and give more rural educators in the Northwest a place to connect!
Why was NW RISE created?
Fully two-thirds of the Northwest region’s school districts are in rural locales. Educators in these schools do important and courageous work, but they often do it alone—lacking access to professional development or collaborative learning opportunities that their urban counterparts rely on to deepen their practice or discuss their work. This is particularly true for teachers who are the only educator in their grade, school, or community.
NW RISE was designed to address this challenge by bringing together teachers, principals, and superintendents from participating school districts, along with state education agency (SEA) staff. Participants meet face to face twice a year in job-alike groups (for example, language arts teachers work together). After the meetings they continue collaborating online. These activities build an educator support network that focuses on enhancing student outcomes.
What does NW RISE do?
NW RISE provides a platform for mutual assistance—one of the most promising strategies used by high-performing school systems across the world. A network of schools helping schools—especially isolated ones—can raise achievement and increase student engagement. Professionals work with other professionals, drawing on their expertise in similar contexts to provide helpful advice.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my world of Garden Valley, I forget there’s a bigger world. It’s exciting to meet people who know exactly what I go through. I realize that I’m not alone. I wish there was something like this before. It was sink or swim before (or go see a grade that doesn’t apply to me). —NW RISE member
Who is in NW RISE?
Initiated and facilitated by NWCC and internationally known Professors Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley of Boston College, NW RISE now comprises K–12 teachers and leaders from 34 districts and schools across five states:
- Alaska: Tri-Valley School in Denali Borough School District; Akiuk Memorial School, Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat School, Lewis Angapak Memorial School, Nuniwarmiut School, and William Miller School in Lower Kuskokwim School District
- Idaho: Basin, Garden Valley, Genesee, Glenns Ferry, Highland, Salmon River, South Lemhi, and Timberline School in Orofino School District
- Montana: Creston, Dixon, and Fair-Mont-Egan
- Oregon: Blachly, Butte Falls, Dayville, Ione, Perrydale, Powers, and Wallowa
- Washington: Columbia, Creston, Cusick, Glenwood, Index, Loon Lake, Pateros, Skykomish, Summit Valley, and White Pass
SEA members support the work of the school districts and gain school improvement practices and tools to share with schools across their states.
NW RISE has been featured in several articles and publications, including:
The Big Impact of Networking in Small Places
School Administrator (October 2018)
Solidarity with Solidity: The Case for Collaborative Professionalism
Andy Hargreaves and Michael T. O'Connor
Phi Delta Kappan, 100 (1), 20-24 (2018, August 24)
Changing the Profession From Within
Karen Martin, Denali Borough School District teacher
Association of Alaska School Boards, guest columnist (2018, February 25)
Remote But Not Removed: Professional Networks That Support Rural Educators
American Educator, 41(4), 34–44 (2017/2018)
What Qualities Will Future Teachers Need?
Schools Week (2017, November 13)
Collaborative Professionalism (WISE Research Report No. 12)
Andy Hargreaves & Michael T. O’Connor
World Innovation Summit for Education (2017)
Building A Professional Network Of Rural Educators From Scratch
Albert Shanker Institute (2016, October 5)
Generating Opportunity and Prosperity: The Promise of Rural Educational Collaboratives
Battelle for Kids (2016)
Designing Rural School Improvement Networks: Aspirations and Actualities
Andy Hargreaves, Danette Parsley, & Elizabeth K. Cox
Peabody Journal of Education, 90(2), 306–321 (2015)