Bestselling author to address rural education challenges at Beaver Creek conference
Sarah Smarsh will share insights with rural and mountain-resort educators
If You Go …
What: PwrHrs Rural After School Conference, for afterschool educators, advocates and leaders from rural areas.
Speakers include writer Sarah Smarsh, who will present “Rural After School and Education: A Door to the World for Low Income and Minority Students.”
When: Nov. 13-15
Where: Beaver Creek, Colorado
Cost: $150 before Sept. 1, $200 regular registration; group pricing and scholarships available.
Information: Learn more at conference.youthpower365.org
Unless you’re a sunflower, there aren’t many growth opportunities in rural Kansas.
Author and journalist Sarah Smarsh knows all about that. She’s the keynote speaker for the Vail Valley Foundation’s PwrHrs Rural After School Conference next November in Beaver Creek.
Smarsh comes from generations of Kansas wheat farmers: hardworking no-nonsense people who struggled to pay their bills, could not afford healthcare, and often were forced to move their children from school to school.
Smarsh is the first in her family to go to college. She has become an outspoken advocate for rural families and their children, as well as a frequent media commentator on class, politics and rural issues.
She chronicles her experiences and explores the socioeconomic forces behind her upbringing in her New York Times bestselling book: “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.”
“When I was a child in rural Kansas during the 1980s and ’90s, my working-poor family didn’t have the time, money or information required to offer me the opportunities I craved,” Smarsh said in a release. “Millions of children are similarly isolated by geography and class. The care they receive often depends on the community that surrounds them. I addressed Heartland to those children.”
About the conference
The PwrHrs Rural After School Conference is aimed at rural after-school issues. While rural communities are diverse, they face common problems: limited funds, scarce resources and struggles to retain staff are compounded by large geographical distances that students and parents often travel, said Sara Amberg, YouthPower365’s director of sustainability, capacity and grants.
Smarsh and other experts in the field will share insights with rural and mountain-resort educators and advocates including: Gina Warner of the National Afterschool Association, Jodi Grant of the Afterschool Alliance, Carrie Morgridge of the Morgridge Family Foundation, Jennifer Harris of the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and Colorado State University education researcher Nathaniel Riggs.
“There’s not a lot of research out there about rural after school programs. Most of the information is from cities, so we hope to fill some of that gap. This is about creating a larger support system for other communities like us,” Amberg said.
Armed with cardboard signs, and their voices, students around the valley walked out of school on Friday to join hundreds of thousands of their peers to demand action on global climate change.