Rural School Leadership for Collaborative Community Development

Hobart L. Harmon, Kai Schafft


In this article we address the role of rural schools in community development. We first discuss the largely historical linkages between rural schools and the communities they serve, and what this means for both school and community well-being. We then consider the newly revised standards for preparing school administrators, developed by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, and how these standards may align with community-building efforts. In sum, we argue that enlightened educational leadership that seriously takes into account the 21st Century needs of students – as well as the communities in which they reside – cannot help but interpret academic and community improvement goals as mutually reinforcing priorities.


Barley, Z A., & Beesley, A.D. (2007). Rural school success: What can we learn? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 22(1), 1-16.

Batt, E.G. (2008). Teacher’s perception’s of ELL education: Potential solutions to overcome the greatest challenges. Multicultural Education, 15(3), 39-43.

Bauch, P.A. (2001). School-community partnerships in rural schools: Leadership, renewal, and a sense of place. Peabody Journal of Education, 76(2), 204-221.

Beaulieu, L., & Israel, G.D. (2005). It’s more than just schools: How families and communities promote student achievement. In L. Beaulieu and R. Gibbs (eds.), The role of education: Promoting the economic and social vitality of rural America (pp. 44-55), Mississippi State, MS: Southern Rural Development Center.

Beaulieu, L., & Mulkey, D. (Eds.). (1995). Investing in people: The human capital needs of rural America. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Brown, D.L., & Swanson, L.E. (Eds.). (2003). Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Budge, K. (2006, December 18). Rural leaders, rural places: Problem, privilege, and possibility. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(13).

Chalker, D.M. (Ed.). (1999). Leadership for rural schools: Lessons for all educators (pp. 231-242). Lancaster, PA: Technomic Publishing Company, Inc.

Chance, E.W. (1999). School-community collaborative vision building: A study of two rural districts. In D. M. Chalker (Ed.), Leadership for rural schools: Lessons for all educators (pp. 231-242).

Corbett, M. (2007). Learning to Leave: The irony of schooling in a coastal community. Nova Scotia, CA: Fernwood Publishing.

Council of Chief State School Officers. (2007). Educational leadership policy standards: ISLLC 2008 as adopted by the national policy board for educational

administration on December 12, 2007. Washington, DC: Author.

Council of Chief State School Officers. (2008). Introduction to the educational leadership policy standards: ISLLC 2008. Washington, DC: Author.

Gibbs, R. (2005). Education as a rural development strategy. Amber Waves, 3(5), 20-25.

Harmon, H.L. (1999). Creating work-based learning opportunities for students in rural schools, The High School Magazine, 6(6): 22-27.

Harmon, H.L. (2000). Linking school-to-work and rural development. FORUM for applied research and public policy, 15(1), 97-100.

Harmon, H.L., & Dickens, B.H. (2004). Reaching out in rural districts. American School Board Journal, 191(8), 28-31.

Hobbs, D. (1991). Exemplary rural school programs in support of rural development. Symposium conducted at the National Conference on Rural Adult Education

Initiatives, Kansas City, MO.

Howley, A., Bickel, R., & McDonough, M. (1997). The call for parent involvement in rural communities: Mantra or mystification. Journal of Research in Rural

Education, 13(2), 101-107.

Howley, C. (1991). The rural education dilemma as part of the rural dilemma: Rural education and economics. In A.J. DeYoung (Ed.) Rural Education: Issues and Practices (pp. 73-145). New York: Garland.

Irwin, M., Tolbert, C., & Lyson, T. (1997). How to build strong home towns. American Demographics, 19(2), 42-47.

Kretzmann, J, & and McKnight, J. (1993). Building communities from inside out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community’s assets. Chicago, IL: Assisting Christians to Act Publications.

Larson, W., & Howley, A. (2006). Leadership of mathematics reform: The role of high school principals in rural schools. ACCLAIM Monograph No. 3. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 498 435).

Lyson, T.A. (2002). What does a school mean to a community? Assessing the social and economic benefits of schools to rural villages in New York. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 17(3), 131-137.

Markell, G. (2000). Rural communities matter: How PTAs can increase parent involvement in our nation’s small towns. Our Children, 26(3), 3.

Miller, B. (1991). Rural Distress and survival: The school and the importance of community. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Miller, B.A. (1995). The role of rural schools in community development: Policy issues and implications. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 11(3), 163-172.

Mills. C. W., & Ulmer. M. (1946/1970). Small business and civic welfare (Report of the Smaller War Plants Corporation to the Special Committee to Study

Problems of American Small Business, Document 135. U.S. Senate, 79th Congress, 2nd session, February 13). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (Reprinted in The Structure of Community Power, pp. 124-154, by M. Aiken & P. Mott, Eds., 1970, New York: Random House).

Phelps, P. (2000). Creating a commitment to family involvement. The Rural Educator, 21(3), 35-38.

Prater, L., Bermudez, A. B., & Owens, E. (1997). Examining parental involvement in rural, urban, and suburban schools. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 13(1), 72-75.

Provasni, S., KewalRamani, S., Coleman, M., Gilbertson, L., Herring, W., and Xie, Q., (July, 2007). Status of education in rural America (NCES 2007-040). Washington, DC.: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Schafft, K. A., Alter, T. R., & Bridger, J. (2006). Bringing the community along: A case study of a school district’s information technology rural development initiative. The Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(8), 1-10.

Sharratt, G,. McClain, C., & Zehm, S. (1993). Vocational education in rural America: An agenda for the 1990s. The Rural Educator, 14(1): 21-26.

Spears, J.D., Combs, L.R., and Bailey, G. (1990). Accommodating change and diversity: Linking rural schools to community. [A Report of the Ford Western

Taskforce]. Manhattan, KS: Rural Clearinghouse for Lifelong Education and Development.

Versteeg, D. (1993). The rural high school as community resource, Educational Leadership, 50(7): 54-55.

Weiss, J.D. (2004). Public schools and economic development: What the research shows. Cincinnati, OH: KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

Wettersten, K. B., Guilmino, A., Herrick, C. G., Hunter, P. J., Kim, G. Y., Jagow, D., et al. (2005). Predicting educational and vocational attitudes among rural high school students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(4), 658-663.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication of the National Rural Education Association -

Report problems or questions about to the website to