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College of Education

Serving Idaho Through Faculty Support

Heather Williams outdoor portrait

Educators play important roles in local communities serving as the backbone for students and families. This is especially true in Idaho’s rural areas where educators are responsible for multiple roles and responsibilities. Particularly important for the success of Idaho’s rural schools and students is the preparation, recruitment, and retention of high-quality educational professionals. Unfortunately, Idaho is facing significant problems meeting regional workforce demands and the learning needs of underserved rural students.

Boise State College of Education is uniquely qualified to address some of these challenges in three innovative ways connected to faculty workloads. First, in Spring 2022 Associate Professor Heather Williams (pictured above) was selected as the inaugural faculty dean-in-residence focused on clinical partnerships. Williams has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, curriculum director, principal, superintendent, and school improvement consultant in primarily rural and low socio-economic P-12 school systems. Her background and insights provide unique opportunities for developing and strengthening partnerships with rural school districts across Idaho.

Second, through this faculty dean-in-residence position, the College of Education recently hosted the Educator Workforce Partnership Summit on March 15. Education stakeholders from across Idaho met to share expertise and solve issues that impact educator success. The summit aimed to improve the preparation, recruitment and retention of education professionals in the state. The summit included five panel discussions featuring Idaho legislators, university administrators, public and charter schools, education students, and clinical practice partner schools.

Third, the Rural Education Collaborative, a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) led by Dr. Williams and designed to engage in research and problem solving with educational systems related to issues facing rural communities in southern Idaho, kicked off its first workshops in Spring 2022. Students earn academic credit for working alongside researchers to study the changing landscape of the rural west from ghost towns to “Zoom towns” and the impact that is having on our education systems. This collaborative research will work towards sustainable communities and resources by focusing on educational outreach to build more resilient systems, while at the same time meeting the distinct needs of Idaho.

Innovative approaches to faculty workload like the dean-in-residence position, the Educator Workforce Partnership Summit, and the Rural Education Collaborative are just three examples how the College of Education responds and adapts to current education challenges in Idaho. Financial support for the College of Education also means support for Idaho’s schools and districts given the strong, collaborative relationships the college has with school districts across the state. Endowing this type of work would help make the focus on rural education more permanent, sustainable and successful.

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