Conference brings together rural education advocates

Written by Alison Parkins on |

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education hosted the inaugural Rurally Responsive Education Conference on April 12. Sponsored by the Tommy G. Thompson Center for Public Leadership at UW-Madison, the conference welcomed more than 70 participants – including current faculty, staff and students; regional education partners; alumni; and community members – to explore current issues and needs related to education in rural communities. 

“The goal of our first Rurally Responsive Education conference was to bring together rural education advocates in Southwest Wisconsin for a discussion of assets and challenges facing rural communities and how education can be a tool for community development,” said Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth, interim director of the School of Education. “The conference as a whole was an amazing success. I was especially proud of the engagement and questions shared from UW-Platteville students in attendance.”

The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Sky Marietta, Appalachian author, early childhood advocate and businesswoman. Rural communities have been a through line of her work, including a dissertation that examined the differences between early literacy development in urban and rural underdeveloped communities. She has co-written three books, including “Rural Education in America,” “Teaching Advanced Literacy Skills” and “Making Assessment Matter.” 

“In her remarks, Sky celebrated the unique assets of small rural communities,” said Hollingsworth. “She shared a promising and sustainable vision for rural communities due to their connections to food ways, strong school systems and social networks, and opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to engage with one another.”

The event also included a job fair, with representatives from eight rural school districts in attendance to speak with UW-Platteville students and recent graduates.

The UW-Platteville School of Education has been training educators for more than 150 years, with its roots dating back to the state’s first Normal School, established in 1866. The School of Education focuses on rural education, supported by the fact that 80% of its graduates go on to teach in rural communities. Students learn through a place-based framework, which emphasizes using students’ own communities – including the history, culture, environment and more – as the primary resource for learning. 

For more information about UW-Platteville’s School of Education, visit