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K-State Today

March 19, 2019

K-State College of Education announces changes in Center for Rural Education

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Debbie Mercer, dean of Kansas State University’s College of Education, has announced several developments in the college's work to address the needs of rural schools. 

Entering its fifth decade, the Center for Rural Education and Small Schools has been renamed the Rural Education Center, or REC, and will be led by J. Spencer Clark, director, and Lori Goodson, assistant director. 

Approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in 1978, the center was directed by Robert Newhouse. It is now led by Barbara Havlicek, who is retiring from those duties effective later this year. 

"We are grateful to Barb for her able and passionate leadership and will honor her legacy with continued service, which is in keeping with what our rural school partners have come to expect from her and the center," Mercer said. 

The center focuses on meeting the needs of rural schools in the state of Kansas. Clark and Goodson will emphasize advocacy for rural schools and their communities by pursuing grant opportunities and other sources of funding to support various rural educational projects. They also will conduct research and coordinate other educational activities to support the learning opportunities for rural students and teachers. Clark and Goodson look forward to supporting current curriculum initiatives and goals associated with the KSDE school redesign, STEAM education, place-based education and civic engagement in rural schools. 

"In the four decades since the center was created, many changes have occurred in rural communities and rural schools and we are proud, as a land-grant institution, to usher in this newest iteration of impactful and responsive programming," Mercer said. "Dr. Clark and Dr. Goodson are outstanding faculty members and talented grant writers who will bring innovation and imagination — rooted in their own experiences with rural schools — to the communities they'll serve. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the small and rural schools that we serve." 

K-State's College of Education continues to produce many of the teachers and administrators in the state's rural schools. Embracing its leadership role in the state's educational field, the center plans to continue to fulfill its responsibility in helping rural schools be successful.

"We believe rural schools represent the heartbeat of their communities, and Kansas schools provide outstanding educational opportunities," Clark said. "Our goal is to help build upon that foundation and help our schools receive recognition for pursuing their potential." 

Clark, associate professor, has worked with rural schools and rural initiatives in Indiana, Utah, and Kansas for the past 12 years, and has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in the Kansas City area. Goodson, assistant professor, had a 20-year career in journalism before teaching in USD 320 Wamego for 14 years, first teaching language arts at Wamego Middle School and then English and journalism at Wamego High School. She is national board certified in English Language Arts/Early Adolescence. 

Both Clark and Goodson are products of rural communities and appreciate the level of education and encouragement they received in those districts. 

"As individuals who have benefited from the comfortable, yet encouraging environment of a rural school, Dr. Clark and I want the center to be a strong voice for rural schools of Kansas at the state, regional, and national level," Goodson said. "We know from experience that quality educators are providing outstanding learning opportunities for their students, and we want to do everything possible to help that continue." 

The center will be headquartered in 202 Bluemont Hall. For more information about the center or to discuss issues facing rural schools, please contact Clark at jspencerclark@k-state.edu or Goodson at lagoodson@k-state.edu

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