he Rural Schools Collaborative, a group made up of members from rural communities across the U.S. working to promote education, announces Carol Silvey of West Plains is its new board chair.
"The Rural Schools Collaborative is proud of the committed and passionate people that make up our board of directors. For the past year, we have been led by our Board Chair Josh Gibb of Galesburg, Ill.," said officials with the organaization. "Now, we are transitioning to the leadership of Carol Silvey of West Plains, Mo."
Gibb and Silvey shared their thoughts on RSC's major accomplisments over the past year, as well as their visions for the future.
Gibb is described as "a dedicated advocate for rural schools, executive director the Galesburg Community Foundation and a father of five young children." During his time as board chair, he said one of the most exciting accomplishments of RSC has been “the momentum that it has gained.”
“There’s a broader acceptance of the importance of the work that we’re doing,” said Gibbs.
Looking forward, he said he's eager to continue to build on the group's accomplishments, as well as adapt to the unexpected changes that this year has brought to schools.
“RSC is very digital and maybe even ahead of the game in how we tell stories and rally people around points of positivity in schools districts and communities. I think that evolution will continue," said Gibbs. "This work is more important than ever as people are looking to their communities more. They’re looking at their teachers; they’re looking at their principals. So the opportunity for education to be a defining factor of community is more important now than it’s ever been.”
He is also very confident in the leadership that Carol Silvey will provide to the organization.
“I’m excited for what Carol is going to bring the chairmanship and really to the Rural Schools Collaborative," he shared. "I think that Carol has a genuineness and she’ll bring a lot of growth and strength to the position. I pledge to be her biggest advocate.”
Silvey is the former vice president for advancement for the Ozarks Medical Foundation in West Plains and a member of the Missouri State University Board of Regents, as well as a lifelong rural schools advocate. For her part, she has many ambitions for the coming year.
“Ideally, I could say that rural schools are going to thrive, but unfortunately I think it’s going to be a really challenging year for us," said Silvey.
In this challenge, however, she sees the imperative for RSC to be “a real source of support as we set up networks between rural teachers.”
She said she envisions more specific and stronger networks for rural teachers, so that, for instance, an elementary school language arts teacher can connect with other teachers working in the same area and grade level in other regions.
“Teachers have so much to do right now, so if we can make our support the most accessible and easy to use, I think that would be a tremendous success,” Silvey elaborated.
She’s also hoping to continue the trend of philanthropic support for the organization so that “we can in turn generate more grants for rural school teachers.”
Finally, Silvey said she’s hoping for more focus on diversity and equity in rural classrooms.
Looking back on Gibb's leadership of Silvey is equally supportive.
“Josh is one of those young people who looks at the world in terms of challenge and opportunity, and I’m just amazed at all of the things that he’s been able to accomplish. The amount of things he’s involved with along with raising five children," Silvey reflected. "He’s really using his life to make everyone’s world better and to help others. That’s what I admire about Josh, his generosity of spirit.”
Silvey said she is also looking forward to welcoming three new members to the Rural Schools Collaborative Board of Directors: Michael Robinson, Island Heights, N.J., Nate McClennen, Jackson, Wyo., and Tammy LaPrad, Macomb, Ill.
“It has been a phenomenal board in the past, and I know it will continue to be with new folks on it," said Silvey. "I never cease to be amazed with how alike we are as board people and how different we are as people. But it's reassuring to find out that there are other people just as committed to rural public education.”