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Rural Districts Taking the Digital Leap

Monday April 8, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

Rural School

Presented by Ned Kirsch, Superintendent, Franklin West Supervisory Union, VT; Dr. Mary Wegner, Superintendent, Sitka School District, AK; and Marie Bjerede, Principal, CoSN Leadership Initiatives, OR
Program Host and Moderator: Ann McMullan, Project Director, CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program
Sponsored by ClassLink
This edWebinar series is co-hosted by CoSN and edWeb.net



edWeb members can download a personalized CE certificate from their edWebinar transcript the day after the presentation.  Join here!

More than half of school districts and about one third of public schools in the United States are in rural areas. Rural districts have unique challenges when it comes to leveraging technology for learning, ranging from poverty and vast travel distances to a lack of affordable internet access.

While leading teaching and learning in rural school districts comes with some very specific challenges, opportunities also exist at the same time. Rural districts have unique opportunities due to their smaller size. They can be nimbler and school leaders often have more ownership of the schools. Rural districts often have strong community involvement. Teacher retention is strong. Many times, teachers teach in the same town—or even in the same schools—where they themselves were once students.

In this edWebinar two rural school district superintendents join CoSN’s Project Director for Rural Initiatives in examining the challenges and opportunities that are unique to rural school districts when moving forward with technology tools—both for learning and for running a school district. Real-world strategies will be shared along with an overview of resources available to support the work of school leaders in rural school districts.

This session is of special value for school superintendents, K-12 school and district leaders, and aspiring leaders. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.

About the Presenters

Ned Kirsch is the superintendent of schools of Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU) serving the Vermont towns of Georgia, Fairfax and Fletcher. FWSU is a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools and a Project 21 Exemplar School. FWSU was also named by IVECA (International Virtual Schooling) as a Distinguished Global School District. In addition, FWSU was the first Apple Distinguished Program in Vermont. In 2015 Ned was named as honorable mention in the Digital Innovation and Learning Award (DILA) in the category of Leading by Example. FWSU schools are focused on school change through the targets defined in their action plan, which are: student-centered learning, student leadership, flexible learning environments, and engaging community partners. The work towards the action plan is documented in the FWSU blog every day.

Mary WegnerDr. Mary Wegner is the superintendent in the Sitka School District in Sitka, Alaska. Her work focuses on transforming the learning landscape to be relevant for today’s students. Additionally, she is a strong advocate for digital-rich learning environments, as well as policies and funding that promote the value of public education to society. Mary is active in arts education organizations in Alaska and works to end homelessness in her home community.

Marie BjeredeMarie Bjerede is the principal for leadership initiatives with CoSN, supporting school districts in several areas, including: digital learning, smart network design, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and rural leadership. Marie also works directly with districts to implement programs to develop student agency in the classroom by first fostering teacher agency and supporting districts in implementing 1:1 initiatives. Marie takes an unconventional approach to all her endeavors, removing constraints from systems to create disproportionate outcomes.

About the Host

Ann McMullan is a 34-year veteran educator who served as the executive director for educational technology in the Klein Independent School District, located just outside Houston, Texas until September 2013, when she and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. For 16 years Ann led the team in Klein ISD that provided professional development on technology and 21st century instructional strategies to over 4,000 professional educators serving over 50,000 students. During that time Ann also co-chaired the Texas Education Technology Advisory Committee which developed the Texas Education Agency’s Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020.

Today, she is based in Los Angeles, California working as a public speaker, writer, and independent education consultant focused on supporting leadership, visioning and planning to meet the needs of today’s students. She is a frequent presenter at state, national and international education conferences. Ann serves as project director for CoSN’s Empowered Superintendents Program. She serves on the board of PowerMyLearning Los Angeles and on the advisory board of Project Tomorrow. In the fall of 2016 Ann co-authored and published Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby.


To participate in the live edWebinar, log in with current version of Google Chrome or install the meeting app prior to the edWebinar on your computer, your Apple device, or Android device.  If you have a firewall in your location, you can participate on your mobile device using your cellular data (not your local network).

The edWebinar recording will be posted to this page the day after the presentation. Join the Super-Connected community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming webinars, and view past webinars to earn CE certificates.

ClassLinkClassLink empowers your students and teachers with instant access to their learning resources. ClassLink® OneClick® includes a library of over 5,000 single sign-on apps and instant links to file folders at school and on Google, Office 365, and Dropbox cloud drives. ClassLink Roster Server easily and securely delivers class rosters to any publisher using open technology standards. ClassLink Analytics gives decision makers the usage data they need. Accessible from any computer, tablet or smartphone, ClassLink is ideal for 1to1 and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives.

CoSN CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community, best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.

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