Grinnell’s Rural Education Summit is a two-day conference exploring contemporary issues and challenges facing K-12 rural schools. Session will cover topics such as the needs of minority students in rural schools, the costs and benefits of school consolidation, working with gifted and talented students in rural schools, learning and teaching in an Indian Settlement School, and helping students with disabilities succeed at rural schools. The Keynote Lecture on Friday, April 4th at 4:15 PM will be given by Dr. Kai Schafft, Director of Penn State University's Center on Rural Education and Communities. This event is open to college students, K-12 teachers, and education-faculty.

Please direct any questions to Ashley Schaefer at schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu or call 642-269-9317.


Friday, April 4

11:00 AM-Noon: Guest Registration and Check-In (Harris Center, Grinnell College)

10:45 AM: Education Professions students Discuss Visit Observations

11:45 AM: Break for Ed Profession Students

12:00 PM: Lunch and Welcome Address by Penny Bender Sebring ’64, Co-Founder, UChicago Consortium on Chicago School Research and Co-Funder, Careers in Education Professions

1:30 PM: Session 1 begins

  • Choice A: “School District Consolidation in Rural Iowa and the Implications for Students, Schools, and Communities” (Dr. David Else, University of Northern Iowa)
  • Choice B: “Out in the Country: Lessons Learned from Gay and Lesbian High School Students” (Dr. Nick Pace, University of Northern Iowa)

2:30 PM: Session 1 ends/ break/move to next location

2:45 PM: Session 2 begins

  • Choice A:  “Seeing ‘Other People’s Children” as “Our Children’:  Creating Inclusive Educational Environments” (Dr. Katrina Sanders, University of Iowa)
  • Choice B:  “Inside the Admission Office” (Doug Badger, Director of Admission Grinnell College)

3:45 PM: Session 2 ends  

4:15 PM: Summit Keynote Address (Lewis-Sebring Hall)

“Rural Education as Rural Development: Understanding the Rural School-Community Well-Being Linkage in a 21st Century Policy Context” (Dr. Kai Schafft , Associate Professor of Education, Director of Penn State’s Center on Rural Education and Communities)

5:00 PM: Q & A with Dr. Schafft

5:30 PM: End of Day 1

Saturday, April 5

8:15 AM: Registration (only for attendees who are only attending on Saturday) and Continental Breakfast for all attendees (JRC 101)

9:00 AM: Session 3 begins (Choice A is in ARH 102 and Choice B is in ARH 302 all day)

  • Choice A:  Habits of Heart and Mind, how being Properly Disposed Makes for an Effective Educator   (Dr. Steve Rose, Simpson College)
  • Choice B:  Misconceptions and Differing Expectations:  Exploring Parent-Teacher Communication with Immigrant Parents and Elementary Teachers (Dr. Carolyn Colvin, University of Iowa)

10:00 AM: Session 3 ends/Break/Switch rooms

10:15 AM: Session 4 begins

  • Choice A:  Differentiating for Gifted Students in Mixed-Ability Classrooms” (Christie McWilliams, University of Houston)
  • Choice B:  Learning and Teaching at the Meskwaki Settlement School (Panel Session)

11:15 AM: Session 4 ends/move to JRC 101 for lunch

11:30 PM: Lunch Keynote- Larry Bice (Administrative Consultant for Practitioner Preparation, Iowa Department of Education)

12:30 PM: Lunch ends/disperse to Session sites

12:45 PM: Session 5 begins

  • Choice A:  Union Disputes and Rural Schools (Dr. Erin McHenry-Sorber, Wilkes University)
  • Choice B:  Tackling Systems Change at a High-Need Rural High School (Dr. Alissa Briggs, Lincoln High School)

1:45 PM: Session 5 ends/Break/ Switch Rooms

2:00 PM: Session 6 begins

  • Choice A:  “Saving and ‘othering’ the poor in rural schools” (Dr. Aimee Howley, Ohio University)
  • Choice B:  Case Study: “Combining Area History with a Multicultural Approach in Elementary Classrooms” (Adriyel Mondloch, Grinnell College)

3:00 PM: Return to the JRC

3:15 PM: Closing Remarks

3:30 PM: End of the Rural Education Summit


Doug Badger

Doug Badger has been the Director of Admission at Grinnell College since 2009. In that time, the college has enjoyed the three largest applicant pools in its history, as well as increases in both diversity and academic strength of entering classes. Prior to coming to Grinnell, he served for 12 years in various positions in the admissions office at Middlebury College, and founded his own consulting firm. He has taught biology, chemistry, and environmental studies in high schools and community colleges, and has coached soccer and baseball. Doug holds a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Idaho and a B.A. in biology from Middlebury College.

Lawrence R. Bice

Dr. Larry Bice is the administrative consultant for practitioner preparation for the Iowa Department of Education. He is responsible to work with all 32 colleges and universities with educator preparation programs on standards and accreditation issues.

Prior to his work at the Iowa DE, Dr Bice was an Associate Professor and Chair of the Teacher Education department at Clarke University in Dubuque, IA. Previous to university teaching, Dr Bice taught high school science in Arizona and Kansas.

Dr Bice earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Secondary Education from Ottawa University in Ottawa Kansas. He earned a Masters of Science in Science Education from Montana State University and a Doctorate of Science Education from Montana State.

Alissa Briggs ‘05

Alissa Briggs, Ph.D, works full time as a school psychologist at a high school in rural, south central Kentucky and part time as a licensed psychologist at a private practice that serves children in Richmond, Kentucky. Her research interests include applied social justice, and in particular, systems change in schools. She has published several articles and a book chapter on social justice as it relates to school psychology practice. Alissa obtained her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2012 and graduated from Grinnell as a psychology and sociology major in 2005. Between Grinnell and Loyola, she taught special education in St. Louis Public Schools as a 2005 Teach For America corps member.

Carolyn Colvin

Professor Carolyn Colvin teaches literacy courses to undergraduate and graduate students in English Education and Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Iowa.  As a publicly engaged scholar, her research partnership with West Liberty Community School District includes preservice teachers who serve as tutors in the adult literacy program she directs for adult immigrant students seeking to expand their literacy skills.

David Else

David Else is the Director of the Institute for Educational Leadership and Associate Professor at the University of Northern Iowa.  He also directs the Iowa Superintendents Finance and Leadership Consortium (ISFLC) which has served educational leaders in every school district and AEA in Iowa.  Additionally, he directs the Iowa Regional Education Applicant Placement  (IAREAP) system which is the primary source of educator jobs in Iowa.  He and his wife have a book coming out in June titled, For All the Small Schools of Iowa (published by the Write Place).  The book is a picture memory walk of rural Iowa high schools that are not longer being used for education.  Dr. Else was the director of the University of Northern Iowa educational leadership program in the Slovak Republic as they were coming out of communism in the 1990s.  The program was designed to help Slovak school leaders democratize their schools.  He has also done work with educational leaders in China.

Aimee Howley

Aimee Howley is professor emerita from Ohio University, where she served as professor of educational studies and associate dean of the Patton College of Education. Much of her research focuses on issues (e.g., school size, school culture, curriculum and instruction) pertinent to rural schools and communities. Her other recent scholarship addresses questions regarding educational leadership, inclusive education, and the content and meaning of dissertation research.

Erin McHenry-Sorber

Erin McHenry-Sorber is an assistant professor in Educational Leadership at West Virginia University. She has a bachelor's degree from Bucknell University in English and education, a master's degree in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University, and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University in Educational Leadership. Erin taught middle school reading and served as grant writer for a rural district in Pennsylvania. She currently serves as co-editor for the Pennsylvania Educational Leadership journal. Her research interests include rural school-community relations and local rural school politics. Her current research explores the influence of the natural gas industry on rural schools and youth.

Christie McWilliams

As a former middle- and high-school English/Language Arts teacher, Christie McWilliams has 13 years of experience working with gifted students in public schools.  She currently serves on the board of the Michigan Association of Gifted Children.  Additionally, Christie is completing her dissertation that examines Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate instructors' attitudes toward and differentiated practices for their gifted students.  She is expected to receive her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on gifted education in May 2014.

Carol Meyer

Carol Meyer has taught at the Meskwaki Settlement School for 18 years. She has her BA in Early Childhood Education and her MAE in Literacy Education. She was raised in Tama County, Iowa and is married with two daughters, ages 24 and 16.

Adriyel Mondloch ‘14

Adriyel Mondloch is a senior Anthropology major from Ankeny, Iowa. Her interest in education stems from her volunteer work within the local school district and her internship with Teach A Man to Fish, a non-profit educational organization based out of London, UK. In the past year, she has explored how to implement multicultural education within a rural setting. Her future plans include obtaining a position through Lutheran Volunteer Corp with an organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for at-risk youth.

Nicholas J. Pace

Nicholas J. Pace is associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Northern Iowa, where he coordinates the principalship program. Pace is a former social worker, teacher, principal and coach and the author of four books on the principalship, including (2009) The Principal's Challenge: Learning from Gay and Lesbian Students. He received the Friend of Iowa Civil Rights Award in 2010.

Steve Rose

Steve Rose has been the coordinator of secondary-level teacher preparation at Simpson College for 15 years.  As part of those responsibilities he supervises practicum students in a variety of settings, urban and rural.  While working in the public schools of Nebraska in the 1980’s and 1990’s, he worked in a the Lexington, Neb. school system that went through a seismic shift demographically when an IBP packing plant moved into the community of 6,000.  His last few years there he ran a program for dropouts.  These experiences coupled with other in his 30 + year career, have given him a passion for the dispositions that teachers bring to their vocation and the realization that those dispositions can be examined and improved.

Katrina Sanders

Katrina M. Sanders is an associate professor at The University of Iowa in the department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies. She is an historian of American education. Her research interests are situated within African American education and American race relations. She is the author of “Intelligent and Effective Direction”: The Fisk University Race Relations Institute and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1944-1969.  She is currently working on her second book – “Nothing by Halves”: A Black Catholic School Community in the Segregated South.

Kai Schafft

Kai A. Schafft is an associate professor of education at Penn State in the Department of Education Policy Studies where he directs the Center on Rural Education and Communities and edits the Journal of Research in Rural Education.  Trained as a rural sociologist, Dr. Schafft’s work focuses primarily on the relationship between the well-being of rural schools and rural communities.  His work has been published in Teachers College Record, the American Educational Research Journal, the American Journal of Education, Social Problems, Rural Sociology, Agriculture and Human Values and the Journal of Appalachian Studies, among other journals, and also includes the books Rural Education for the Twenty-first Century (Penn State Press, 2010), and Rural People & Communities (Polity Press, 2011).  His current work examines the school and community impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region.

Penny Bender Sebring '64

Penny Bender Sebring64 is the Senior Research Associate at the University of Chicago and  Co-Founder of the Consortium on Chicago School Research as well as a Life Trustee at Grinnell College.  Her experience and passion for education began with her experiences as a high school teacher in a rural Pennsylvanian school and her time as a Peace Corp volunteer in Venezuela. Ms. Sebring’s research spans a variety of topics, including urban education, school leadership, and the utilization of research and evaluation results to create positive educational change. She is the co-author of Organizing Schools for Improvement:  Lessons from Chicago (2010) and Charting Chicago School ReformDemocratic Localism as a Lever for Change (Westview Press, 1998). Most recently she was the principal investigator and lead author of Teens, Digital Media, and the Chicago Public Library (2013).

Penny and her husband, Charles Ashby Lewis, reaffirmed their commitment to education through the creation and their management of the Lewis-Sebring Foundation, which has provided funds for the education of economically disadvantaged youth, the performing arts, and the creation of the Careers in Education Professions programs at the University of Chicago, Amherst College, and Grinnell College. The Careers in Education Professions programs encourage students from selective institutions to pursue careers in education in order to enhance the professionalization of teaching. When they are not busy with their many enterprises in education, they enjoy spending time with their three children and their five grandchildren.


Registration Fees

To keep this important conference affordable so that undergraduate and graduate students and K-12 teachers are able to attend, we have chosen a tiered approach to registration costs. The registration fee will provide for a buffet-style hot lunch on Friday, coffee breaks both days, a continental breakfast Saturday morning, and a sandwich-and-sides buffet on Saturday.

Undergraduate and Graduate Students

One-Day Attendance: $20

Two-Day Attendance: $30

K-12 Faculty and Staff Pricing

One-Day Attendance: $35

Two-Day Attendance: $50

Higher Education Faculty and Staff Pricing

One-Day Attendance: $45

Two-Day Attendance: $55


How to Register

To register for the Rural Education Summit, please complete this REGISTRATION FORM. Contact Ashley Schaefer at schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu if you have questions about the Rural Education Summit or about the registration process.




At all three locations just call and request rooms under the “Rural Education Summit” pricing. All locations are about 2 miles from campus and there will be shuttles to help transport guests to Grinnell College.

All three hotels offer non-smoking rooms with queen or king-sized beds, heated-indoor pools, and fitness centers. Complimentary breakfasts are included in the cost of the room. Internet access is free and high-speed at all three locations and rooms come equipped with coffee-makers, refrigerators, and hairdryers. All three hotels are also pet-friendly.

Country Inn and Suites
1710 West St S, Grinnell, IA 50112
Phone:(641) 236-9600

Comfort Inn and Suites
1630 West St S, Grinnell, IA 50112
Phone:(641) 236-5236

Best Western
2210 West St S, Grinnell, IA 50112
Phone:(641) 236-6116