Meet the Board and Staff
Rural Teachers of the Year,
NREA Hall of Fame
MSSA Frontier Schools
A NOTE FROM DIRECTOR DAN RASK:
Greetings and thanks for taking a look at the Montana Small Schools Alliance website. It holds a wealth of resources. The links at the top of the page are the means to navigate the site. Members have a password for the "Consortium" page. Double click the above sets of pictures to expand and read. Look around and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or desire to know more about our programs.
Executive Director, Dan Rask's Schedule: Monday through Friday. Please use email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or (221-6303) if I am not at the office, which is generally Tuesday.
Office Manager, Linda Sunderlin's Schedule: Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Linda's email address is email@example.com.
2020 - 2021 LETTERS OF AGREEMENT FOR ALL PROGRAMS
MSSA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT/POSITION DESCRIPTION LOCATED HERE: The successful candidate will not be required to live in Dillon.
JONI CARROLL SELECTED NATIONAL RURAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION/COLLEGE BOARD "RURAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR"
Joni Carroll has taught at the Cohagen Elementary School since 2011 and carries 25 years of teaching experience. Joni submitted an application and due to Covid - 19 was not able to be recognized, as the MACSS Spring Conference was cancelled. The achievement of Joni during this pandemic only sheds more light on what our Frontier teachers do to make their students safe and successful. Joni was nominated by Garfield County Superintendent, Heather Gibson. In nominating Joni, Heather indicated that in a era of pessimism and criticism, parents around Cohagen share that Joni Carroll is a breath of fresh air. Joni keeps 15 students in 7 grades actively engaged. Her concurrent task management is unmatched in the classroom. Joni puts together many community events which has help mold the
community into a supportive, trusting, helping environment.
MSSA CONFERENCE SCHEDULE IS VIRTUAL IN FEBRUARY 2021
The Montana Small Schools Alliance will conduct the February 2021 conference schedule virtually. More information is located on the registration page of this website. A summary follows:
Dr. Tammy Elser (SKC) and Stephanie Swigart (OPI)
The challenges of this year are making us rethink how we engage young learners in writing. One important priority should be on helping students use their writing to facilitate critical thinking, especially about text. To do this, we need to provide opportunities for short and extended writing across genres, audiences, and for a variety of purposes. Strategies need to be fun and engaging to help students
connect with the task as well as to promote a sense of self-efficacy. Dr. Tammy Elser and Stephanie Swigart are teaming up to provide engaging, accessible writing strategies and resources that teachers can use in their classrooms across curricula and with diverse learners. These dynamic standards-aligned strategies and resources will help your students engage in writing and build their skills.
MSSA UNOFFICIAL BOARD MINUTES
2021 MSSA RURAL EXCELLENCE SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION RELEASED
The MSSA Board has released the guidelines and application for both the Rural Excellence Instructor Award as well as the Rural Excellence District Award. Both are due back at the office by January 16, 2021. Below are the criteria for application. The award must be used between February 1, 2021 and February 1, 2022.
What We Do
MSSA Professional Development, Curriculum and Policy Consortium
The Montana Small Schools Professional Development and Curriculum Consortium is one of the major programs of the Alliance. Starting in 1996, the Alliance has provided more than eight hundred day-long workshops to multi-grade school districts and small K-12 districts helping them create curriculum, instruction, and assessments, to meet state and federal standards. Each year the consortium has grown to serve more school districts. In 2020 the consortium is serving over 140 school districts throughout Montana in various programs. The MSSA developed a team of member teachers that continually aligns MSSA curriculum to the Montana Content Standards in all disciplines. The member section holds full K-12 curriculum, completely aligned. The Rural Schools Policy Manual is also included in consortium membership. Language for REAP and Title II grants are additional features of Consortium membership.
MSSA Standards Program
In response to a change in policy by the Montana Board of Public Education regarding the accreditation standards for guidance and libraries, MSSA offers a program for districts with under 126 students enrolled. If a school district meets the ANB requirement, joins and complies with the MSSA program, they will be fully accredited in either or both disciplines. MSSA contracts approved, accredited specialists who provide an annual workshop and regular consultation either by email or directly. Those specialists are listed in the "Standards Members" page. Districts are required to have a certified instructor as the contact person. That individual need not have the certifications in guidance or library but must be a certified instructor meeting the qualifications outlined by OPI. The MSSA currently has 92 members for library and 102 members for counseling.
MSSA-MAP Testing Program
Knowing how difficult and expensive it is for small school districts to create a student growth model assessment system, we have teamed up with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) of Portland, Oregon to offer school districts, with a student body of less than 200 students, special rates to use NWEA’s well-known Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Assessments may be given up to four times in a school year (fall, winter, spring and summer). These assessments are individualized to the student and reflect Montana’s standards and can help predict SBAC scores. They are available in language, reading and mathematics for grades 2-12. There is also a Kindergarten, grade 1 and English Language Learner assessment in the three areas provided orally through a computer. In addition, there is a science assessment for grades 3–12. Teachers will receive results back the next day. Join now to help all your students meet the state achievement levels. The MSSA has 74 members using the MAP testing program.
MSSA and MREA under the partnership of the Montana Rural Education Partnership (MREP) is the unified state affiliate of the National Rural Education Association. Montana students have taken top honors in the NREA Student Essay Contests. Montana Teachers have received NREA mini-grants. A Montana Rural Teacher of the Year has been awarded National Rural Teacher of the Year honors and others have been finalists. MSSA teachers, board members and the Executive Director serve on national executive committees. The Executive Director serves on the National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium and has been instrumental in maintaining the REAP grants as they currently are administered.
MSU-BOZEMAN 588 GRADUATE COURSE
MSSA offers graduate classes annually with our Alliance partner, the College of Education, Health and Human Development, Montana State University-Bozeman. Instructors who attend at least three seminars during the year and complete a project over the topics presented at those seminars, receive one graduate credit from MSU-Bozeman College of Continuing Education upon successful completion. This course is a second semester course and enrollment is generally from January until March of each year.
RURAL SCHOOLS FINANCIAL SURVEY
MSSA annually compiles a survey of participating schools regarding tax value, base, budgeting and a host of other district financial data to assist rural schools in determining where they may lie with regard to other districts across the state financially. Districts submit their data to our office and we in turn compile and sort the data before returning it to each participating district. Other districts may request a copy of the compiled data for a small fee. All copies are archived in the "Research" page of our website.
FEDERAL GRANTS (REAP, TITLE IIA) SUPPORT
MSSA assists member district in both attaining and maintaining the Rural Education Achievement Program as well as the Title IIA portion the ESEA grant process. Acceptable language for both are provided as a member of our consortium. Language to use for the Title IIA application and final report is located on the "Consortium Members" page.