NREA News and Updates

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2020 National Signature Project Grant
NREA "The Rural Voice" Podcast Series
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50 States in 50 Weeks:
Each week, NREA and the I Am A Rural Teacher Campaign share how vast rural America is. Check out our 50 States highlight on Facebook:

We now have a public-facing spreadsheet showing every state featured so far, where to see it, and a story from the state! Check it out:

Are you a Utah rural teacher? We'd love to hear from you! Submit today at We are also still taking COVID-19 submissions: And we recently began accepting perspective for the Black Rural Teachers Matter Project:

Feel free to contact Hailey Winkleman, the NREA Advocacy Liaison for this campaign, at with any questions about submitting your story.
Montana's Connie Michael is the 2020 National Signature Project Award Winner!
Montana's Connie Michael is the 2020 National Signature Project Award Winner!
The National Rural Education Association and the Rural Schools Collaborative are proud to announce that Connie Michael of Crow Agency Elementary on the Crow Reservation in Montana has received the 2020 National Signature Project Award for her place-based project, "A’ashe Kussee’ Alatshiia, River to Garden".
Michael is the third National Signature Project Award recipient, following last year's selection, Devon Barker-Hicks of Idaho, and in 2018 Andrea Wood, from Moorcroft, Wyoming. Michael will receive an award of $2,500, which will be applied to her incredible place-based project!
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NASHVILLE, TN (July 10, 2020) - Tennessee Book Company®, an Ingram Content Group company, in collaboration with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the National Rural Education Association (NREA), was awarded a regional grant to help five Tennessee rural school districts expand their remote learning capabilities.
As part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI), several Tennessee K-12 school districts will be provided access to the digital services of Tennessee Books Company’s Thrivist® platform. The grant provides financial and technical assistance to improve community and economic development in Decatur County, Henderson County, Lexington City, Perry County and Chester County school districts.
“The Tennessee Board of Regents is excited about the opportunity to provide the resource to expand remote learning capabilities to the rural school districts through this grant opportunity with USDA,” said Chancellor Flora Tydings. “The grant program proposal submitted by TBR is the first of its kind to be funded by USDA and can serve as a model for similar programs across the nation.”
Thrivist is a teaching and learning platform that brings district content and digital resources into one individualized learning experience for unlimited learning.
Services provided through Thrivist include:
  • Expanding the existing digital platform of the Southwest Tennessee Career Readiness Network portal to enhance remote learning options;
  • Providing professional development for the school districts to improve remote learning instructional practices and build internal capacity;
  • Providing access to digital content that will enhance the existing remote learning options currently in place for the identified school districts.
“As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning and online education has become a genuine necessity. K-12 districts and teachers are in the situation of having to rapidly learn to teach in very different ways and students and families are looking for easier ways to access content at home. We are excited that Thrivist can help facilitate a seamless digital learning experience that works for districts, teachers, students and parents alike. The leadership of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee School Board Association, and National Rural Education Association will not only help these five counties, but hopefully provide a path for other districts across the region,” said Todd Svec, Vice President of Tennessee Book Company.
"Henderson County is looking forward to our collaboration with Thrivist to help provide distance learning to the children of our community and the collaboration with the other districts involved," said Henderson County Director of Schools Steve Wilkinson.
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Rural Broadband
Microsoft CEO: Broadband internet access is a 'fundamental right'
Microsoft CEO: Broadband internet access is a 'fundamental right'
New York (CNN Business)Among the many types of inequality in the United States laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic is the digital divide between those who can access the internet at home and those who can't.
Especially in rural areas of the country, many lack access to broadband internet — and thus have struggled to participate in the remote learning, working and health care that have allowed others to adapt during the crisis.
A new initiative from Microsoft (MSFT) and farming cooperative Land O'Lakes aims to tackle that issue by bringing broadband and other services, such as free WiFi and digital skills training to rural communities in the 19 states where Land O'Lakes has farms.
"If you think about the rural community today, they are going to thrive if the entire community is able to get the education, the upskilling, the health and ... ecommerce and other facilities directly reaching them where they are," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview with CNN's Julia Chatterley on "First Move" Wednesday. "That's why broadband is such a fundamental right."
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Sharing Information From Our Partners and Sponsors:
Building a Pipeline of Rural Higher Education Students
Building a Pipeline of Rural Higher Education Students

Please find information below on a three-part webinar opportunity, Strategies for Rural Postsecondary Attainment in Illinois, hosted by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. In addition to joining us in this series, I hope that I can count on you to distribute this opportunity with your networks. The more rural students and leaders we have engaged in this discussion, the more significant of an impact we can have on the future of Illinois’ rural students.
This series will bring together postsecondary leaders, rural students, and district leaders to hear from national and local experts to discuss strategies for increasing postsecondary attainment in Illinois. As Chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, Lieutenant Governor Stratton is pleased to host this event in partnership with The Hunt Institute, a national nonprofit organization with a mission of helping policymakers make informed decisions that result in improving the lives of all children through quality education.
The webinars in the series are:

Building a Pipeline for Rural Higher Education Students
July 21: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm CT Register Here
  • Featured Speakers:Stephanie Banchero, The Joyce Foundation
  • Dr. Jeff Carlson, The College Board
  • Kyle Westbrook, Partnership for College Completion
  • Dr. Matt Newlin, College Advising Corps
  • Dr. Clarence Wyatt, President, Monmouth College

The Rural Digital Divide for Higher Education Students
  • July 27: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm CT Register Here

How Community Partnerships and Institutions of Higher Learning can Help StudentsSucceed

oAugust 6: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm CT Register Here
You will receive additional program information and a detailed agenda in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, please register for each respective webinar at the links above. If you have any questions or have trouble registering, please feel free to reach out to Julia Cunningham at or by phone at (919) 360-0019.
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Better Lesson: Webinar
Better Lesson: Webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent response have led to an unprecedented shift in teaching and learning at all levels of our education system. For many districts, the transition from in-person instruction to virtual learning happened in a matter of days, with a herculean effort from all staff to provide students with quality instruction. As districts address their current reality and plan for the uncertainties of the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, aligning vision to need is crucial for ensuring the wellness of the community served.

NREA has partnered with BetterLesson to offer a small group, virtual planning session specifically for rural school leaders. Join learning designers from BetterLesson and leaders from across the country for a collaborative learning experience that will help you map out the next steps in your Distance Learning Plan:
  • Unpack the pillars of effective distance learning and how they promote equitable learning outcomes for students and self-care for teachers.
  • Understand the core questions educators should be able to answer when developing a distance learning experience for students .
  • Develop a personalized action plan based on the specific needs of your staff.
The content of this session is based on the lessons learned from helping educators across the country develop virtual learning experiences for students. You’ll leave with an actionable guide with tools and resources you can use immediately with your team.

Join your colleagues on July 28th at 2:30 ET

Click on this link, view the agenda, and Register Today
An Online Resource for Rural Schools
An Online Resource for Rural Schools
Our valued partner, OnToCollege, is primarily known for providing fun and engaging online ACT, PreACT, SAT & PSAT prep courses. But did you know they have online resources that can help ALL grade 6-12 students?
Utilizing these courses would be an easy way to add to your member schools’ online teaching if there are more school closures this fall, while jumping state standardized test scores -- not just ACT and SAT scores. This means students will earn more college scholarship money, your member schools’ state report cards will improve, and teachers will have another way to engage students during any upcoming remote learning.
OnToCollege grammar, data interpretation, reading comprehension, and math lessons will enhance your existing curriculum. (English teachers LOVE the grammar curriculum!) And teachers can track students' participation and quiz/test results on the OTC platform, so they’ll have less remote instruction to develop on their own.
If any NREA state affiliate group partners with OnToCollege, all of their member schools will receive discounts on OTC products. MREA, TNREA, and others have already reaped the benefits of an OnToCollege partnership. To learn more, email
NREA State Affiliates
NREA Rural Ed Resources
NREA Sponsors & Partners
The Rural Educator
Rural Ed. Instructional Support
NREA Foundation & Research Awards Announcements


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