This webinar, held on October 3, 2013, examines the challenges and successes of rural schools in supporting students in the transition to college and careers.

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Jackie Burniske
Dissemination Director
REL Southwest, SEDL

About the REL Southwest

Webinar Archive

Webinar Agenda (PDF)

by REL Southwest Staff

Powerpoint Presentation | Transcript

Rural High School Aspirations Study
by Dr. Judith L. Meece

Powerpoint Presentation | Transcript

Rural Youth in Seminole, Oklahoma
by Ronda Townsend

Powerpoint Presentation | Transcript

Rural Youth in Hawkins, Texas*
by Dr. Debi Crawford

Powerpoint Presentation | Transcript
Hawkins Video

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*To view the two Hawkins Strike Force Unite videos discussed in the webinar, use the two links provided above for optimal performance.

Webinar Overview

Award-winning professor Judith L. Meece, Ph.D., presents findings from the Rural High School Aspirations Study, conducted by the National Research Center on Rural Education Support through funding from the Institute of Education Sciences. In addition, two assistant superintendents from rural school districts in the Southwest share their successes and challenges in helping rural youth transition to college and careers.


The webinar was designed for anyone with an interest in rural schools and communities, including teachers, administrators, state department of education staff, researchers, and community members.


Judith L. Meece

Judith L. Meece, Ph.D.
Researcher and Professor, School of Education
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Judith L. Meece, Ph.D., was the Principal Investigator for the Rural High School Aspirations Study (2007–11), conducted by the National Research Center on Rural Education Support and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. She is currently conducting a follow-up study of 7,500 rural students in the postsecondary years. Dr. Meece has authored and co-authored numerous research briefs and peer-reviewed articles on the topic of rural youth. She began her career in education as a preschool teacher and is now an award-winning professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition, Dr. Meece co-authored the first textbook for educators on the subject of child and adolescent development, titled Child & Adolescent Development for Educators and now in its third edition. Dr. Meece also co-edited, with Jacquelynne Eccles, the first handbook focusing on schools as a developmental context, titled Handbook of Schools, Schooling, and Human Development.

Debi Crawford

Dr. Debi Crawford
Assistant Superintendent
Hawkins Independent School District
Hawkins, Texas

Debi Crawford has served as the assistant superintendent of Hawkins Independent School District in East Texas since 2004. Previously, she was the executive coordinator of the SUPERNet Consortium at the University of Texas Health Center in Tyler. In that role, she assisted in establishing and maintaining a technology consortium of 18 members and a virtual school. She also partnered with SEDL in the SouthCentral Regional Technology in Education Consortium and was a codeveloper of the Administrator’s Training. Prior, Dr. Crawford was an award-winning classroom teacher, with experience at grades 1–12. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M at Commerce.

Ronda Townsend

Ronda Townsend
Assistant Superintendent
Seminole Public Schools
Seminole, Oklahoma

Ronda Townsend has served as assistant superintendent of Seminole Public Schools in Oklahoma since 2006. This role includes serving as curriculum and special education coordinator and providing federal program compliance oversight. From 2000–2006, Ms. Townsend worked at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, most recently in the Office of Accountability and Assessments as the executive director of state testing. Prior, Ms. Townsend worked for 10 years as an elementary teacher for Seminole Public Schools and began her career as an education instruction specialist at IBM. She earned an M.Ed. in educational administration from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma.

Resources on Rural Youth Aspirations

Rural High School Aspirations Study: National Center on Rural Education Support. (2011).

The following research articles based on the Rural High School Aspirations Study examine different issues related to rural youth aspirations.