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The AIRSS Team Represents Illinois at the National Forum to Advance Rural Education in Tennessee

Updated: Nov 22, 2023


AIRSS Executive Director Dave Ardrey (Center) with Associate Director Hailey Winkleman (Right) and Program Director John Glasgow (Left) at NFARE.
AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey (Center) with Assistant Director Hailey Winkleman (Right) and Program Director John Glasgow (Left) at NFARE.

The National Rural Education Association’s (NREA) annual National Forum to Advance Rural Education (NFARE) was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, co-hosted with the Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC) and the Tennessee Rural Education Association (TNREA) and the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga (UTC). The AIRSS team, including Executive Director David Ardrey, Assistant Director Hailey Winkleman, and Program Director John Glasgow, were able to journey down to attend the event. The NREA is the premier national rural advocacy organization, having represented the needs and issues of rural education since 1907. Each year, NREA brings together rural education researchers, practitioners, and allies for a national forum that reviews collective progress made in the field and envisions the new year ahead. NREA is currently housed at the UTC where Dr. Allen Pratt serves as Executive Director of NREA as well as a Co-Director for the UTC School of Education. Pratt and his UTC colleagues were thrilled to bring the family reunion-esque national forum to their own backyard this year and highlight the great work of rural Tennessee schools.



AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey (Right) presenting the 2024 NREA Foundation - Hall of Fame Induction to a longtime colleague and friend Dan Rask, the former Executive Director of the Montana Small Schools Alliance (MSSA).
AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey (Right) presenting the 2024 NREA Foundation - Hall of Fame Induction to a longtime colleague and friend Dan Rask, the former Executive Director of the Montana Small Schools Alliance (MSSA).

AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey has had the honor of serving as the President of the NREA this past year. In addition to being a steward for the organization’s internal and external growth, this opportunity has enabled Ardrey to also represent the unique perspectives and experiences of rural Illinois nationally, ensuring that our local context is included in national rural education policy positions. In particular, Ardrey has taken great pride in working together with Dr. Pratt and the rest of the NREA Executive Committee to strengthen the organization’s leadership structure and responsibilities.


As President of NREA, Ardrey acted as one of the main hosts for NFARE this year, and was able to preside over a landmark conference for the organization. Not only was this year’s NFARE one of the highest attended to-date, but it also unveiled the newest edition of the Why Rural Matters Report, an invaluable source of state and national rural education data that has for decades been the trusted source of information for policymakers and researchers alike. Recently, the NREA and RSC have taken editorial ownership of the Report from the Rural School and Community Trust. This change in ownership is seen in how the Report is attuned to the NREA’s newly minted research agenda as well as the real needs and narratives of rural schools elevated by RSC and the NREA state affiliates, of which AIRSS is one.



AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey (Center) and Arizona Rural Schools Association Executive Director Dr. Melissa Sadorf (Left) receiving commemorative NREA President plaques from NREA Executive Director Dr. Allen Pratt (Right).
AIRSS Executive Director David Ardrey (Center) and Arizona Rural Schools Association Executive Director Dr. Melissa Sadorf (Left) receiving commemorative NREA President plaques from NREA Executive Director Dr. Allen Pratt (Right).

After a year of hard work and service, Ardrey will officially transition the Presidency of NREA to Dr. Melissa Sadorf of the Arizona Rural Schools Association. In the years to come, Ardrey will continue serving on the NREA Executive Committee to collaborate with Sadorf, Pratt, and others on a unified rural advocacy platform.

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