Rural education in Georgia is getting special attention in the form of a new office within the state Department of Education that will focus on the needs of rural schools.

The Office of Rural Education and Innovation will be headed by Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, a veteran education leader who served most recently as superintendent of the Early County School System and president of the Georgia School Superintendents Association.

Ragan-Martin will take on the title of deputy superintendent for rural education and innovation starting in October.

“It is a top priority of my administration to strengthen and bring greater opportunities and economic prosperity to rural Georgia,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday.

“The Georgia Department of Education’s new Office of Rural Education and Innovation will support those efforts to renew and revitalize rural Georgia and ensure our state remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“Our rural schools and districts face unique challenges and resource gaps – and many of those challenges have only intensified due to the pandemic,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods added.

“There is also, though, an opportunity for a transformational investment in rural Georgia that could change the lives of children and the course of their communities. That’s what I’m tasking our new Office of Rural Education and Innovation with working toward.”

Woods said Ragan-Martin’s experience, commitment and deep roots in rural Georgia make her a perfect fit for her new role.

Ragan-Martin has been school superintendent in Early County, a system with about 2,000 students, since 2013. She also served on the school superintendents association’s Rural Task Force from 2018 until last year.

A native of Randolph County, Ragan-Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, a master’s in English education from Georgia Southwestern College, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Valdosta State University.

The new office will be supported with federal coronavirus relief funds and work to address educational needs in rural Georgia including connectivity, teacher retention and recruitment, resources and funding, and educator development.

Ragan-Martin and the staff she brings on will join school and community leaders to address gaps brought to the forefront during the pandemic and develop a roadmap for moving beyond recovery to renewal.

Dave Williams writes for Capitol Beat News Service


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