Rural Education in America

Rural Education in America

What Works for Our Students, Teachers, and Communities

Geoff Marietta, Sky Marietta


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Rural Education in America provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the diversity and complexity of rural communities in the United States and for helping rural educators implement and evaluate successful place-based programs tailored for students and their families. Written by educators who grew up in rural America and returned there to raise their children, the book illustrates how efficacy is determined by the degrees to which instruction, interventions, and programs address the needs and strengths of each unique rural community.

Geoff and Sky Marietta weave research, compelling case studies, and personal experience to illustrate effective approaches along the P-16 pipeline. Emphasizing the value and vitality of these communities, the authors advocate for solutions that fit the sociocultural and historical reality of the community, rather than strategies that fundamentally support out-migration. They also provide tools that can be used to evaluate rural educational initiatives and implement place-based strategies that are aligned with the strengths of a particular community.

Rural Education in America includes examples from a range of geographic locations, including Eastern Washington, Montana, Ohio, northern Minnesota, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and the Navajo Nation. Core chapters focus on critical issues for advancing rural education including early literacy, STEM education, and college completion while highlighting successful programs and partnerships in these areas. This book presents a vision of what rural education can be and how it can attend to the well-being of the people, places, and regions that it serves.


Geoff Marietta:
Geoff Marietta is an instructor in education and doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
|||Geoff Marietta is entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of the Cumberlands and founder of Invest 606, a business accelerator and pitch contest for Southeastern Kentucky in partnership with the University of the Cumberlands, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, and the James Graham Brown Foundation. Geoff is also the founder of Mountain Tech Media, a diversified front-end digital media company based in Eastern Kentucky, and Trillium Ventures, a community development real estate company that invests and restores historic main street buildings in the region. He is the former executive director of Pine Mountain Settlement School, an eight-hundred-acre National Historic Landmark community nonprofit in Harlan County, Kentucky. Born in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Iron Range, Geoff attended the University of Montana, where he studied forestry. He then lived on the Navajo Nation in rural New Mexico, teaching high school special education and serving as an assistant principal. He went on to earn his MBA from Harvard Business School and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During his time in Cambridge, Geoff cofounded and served as CEO of the software development company Giant Otter Technologies, acquired by In addition to Rural Education in America, Geoff is a coauthor of Improving Education Together and Achieving Coherence in District Improvement—as well as more than twenty case studies, articles, and reports. He currently lives in Williamsburg, Kentucky, with his wife, Sky, and their sons, Harlan and Perry.

Sky Marietta is an assistant professor at the University of the Cumberlands and director of the Learning Commons, a peer-based program to support the academic achievement of vulnerable college students. She also is the owner of Moonbow, a group of three small businesses that support Appalachian artists and suppliers on Main Street in Corbin, Harlan, and Williamsburg. Sky grew up in Appalachian Kentucky, the fifth of her parents’ seven children. She went to college at Yale, became a teacher on the Navajo Nation, and then received her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in child development with a focus on language and literacy. Rural communities have been a through line of her work, including a dissertation that examined the differences between early literacy development in urban and rural poor communities. She taught a class on rural education at HGSE as a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer. Since graduating, she has launched an early childhood program in Harlan County in Kentucky and worked as a specialist for Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension program. In addition to Rural Education in America, she is a coauthor of Teaching Advanced Literacy Skills and Making Assessment Matter. She lives with her husband, Geoff, their sons, Harlan and Perry, and two dogs. She blogs about their lives and businesses at