As the world gets smaller, many things get consolidated, including rural schools. However, people are fighting this trend, and Fort Hays State University's College of Education and Technology has some help to offer.
The 3rd annual Rural Symposium, Preserving the Future of Schools and Communities on the Plains: Building Strong Alliances through Entrepreneurship and Leadership, is aimed at school administrators, school board members, economic development directors, Chamber of Commerce members, mayors, city commissioners, business and government leaders, and citizens interested in the growth and vitality of their communities and schools.
The conference will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, at the AmericInn Dole-Specter Conference Center, 1430 S. Fossil St., in Russell.
"The goal of these symposiums is to help schools not consolidate," said Amie Wright, administrative specialist for the College of Education and Technology.
This year's first keynote speaker is Veryl Switzer, former Green Bay Packers player. Switzer, now living in Manhattan, Kan., will focus on his work and experiences in the community of Nicodemus and will offer ideas on how to help rural communities create and maintain their own unique identity.
Other keynote speakers are Susan Symons, Pottawatomie Consortium; Shelly Rickstrew, Wamego High School counselor; Kathleen McPeak, real estate developer, Wamego; and Charlyn Clauson, a mentor and volunteer, Wamego.
After Switzer's speech, seven breakout sessions will begin from which participants can choose.
Craig Schroeder, Center for Entrepreneurship, Lincoln, Neb., will present on "Stemming the Tide of Youth Out-Migration."
Bill Walker, superintendent of Rock Hills USD 107, and Ray Patterson, superintendent of Pawnee Heights USD 496, will talk about "School Consolidation and Cooperative Agreements -- Benefits and Challenges to Rural Schools and Communities."
"Mutually Beneficial Pedagogy: An Account of Simultaneously Renewing Schools and Communities, What it Looks Like Elsewhere and How to Make it Happen at Home" will be taught by Paul Theobald, Woods-Beals Chair of Urban and Rural Education, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, N.Y.
Lonnie Paquette, president of Riley Construction, Manhattan, Kan., Fred Willich, president of Hi-Tech Interiors Inc., Manhattan, Kan., and Symons will teach "Construction Technology: Building for Success - Literally!"
"Is Economic Development Compatible with Community Development?" will be taught by Mike Callicrate, independent farmer and rancher, St. Francis, Kan., and founder of Ranch Foods Direct, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Two of the seven sessions will be taught by FHSU professors. Sue Boldra, instructor of teacher education, will lead "Place-Based Education Projects: Connecting Rural Schools and Communities." Dr. Robert Moody, assistant professor of educational administration and counseling, will teach "Students: The Heart and Soul of Rural Communities and Schools."
"Participants will leave this session with ideas on how to reduce truancy, vandalism and bullying and on classroom management concerns," said Moody.
The symposium is open to anyone who would like to attend. The registration fee is $65, and registration deadline is Feb. 17. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. A block of rooms has been reserved at the AmericInn in Russell for Feb. 25, with room rates of $66 per person.
For more information, contact the College of Education and Technology at 785-628-5866 or on-line at www.fhsu.edu/crl.