Rural Superintendents: How Do Wyoming Rural Superintendents View and Respond to the Challenges Brought about by External Demands on their Schools?

Jeanne L. Surface, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Surface, J. (2008). Rural superintendents. Saarbruken, Germany: VDM Verlag


Very little is known about how superintendents respond to and view the challenges brought about by increasing external performance demands on their schools. This important study uses a multi-case study format to create portraits of five rural superintendents, the challenges they face, and their responses to those challenges. The participant perceptions were organized into five themes: declining enrollment, isolation, board and community relations, celebrated accomplishments, and rural schools in contrast with urban or suburban schools. The superintendents were most proud of changes they had made to improve instruction in their districts. They spoke of challenges with bringing professional development to teachers in isolated rural areas; declining enrollment and closing schools; federal mandates; schools facilities; serving in multiple roles; and state bureaucracy. There were many misconceptions about rural schools by the general public and even less about the tremendous stress of being a superintendent in a rural school.