National Rural Education Association
The Voice of Rural Schools and Communities

And the Winner is...

We are happy to announce the most recent award winners. Congratulations to them for their exemplary dedication to education in our nation’s rural schools.

Rural Teacher of the Year

Arizona Teacher Named 2016-2017 Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year

Please contact John Hill via email or at  (765) 494.0086

West Lafayette, IN--- John Hill, Executive Director of the National Rural Education Association, announced the selection of Virginia Sautner as the Monsanto Fund National Rural Teacher of the Year.

Sautner teaches at Lake Havasu High School, where she has taught 9th grade English language arts and student government for the last 13 years. She holds National Board Certification and is an Arizona master teacher.

Sautner shares, “when I started teaching, I thought I should teach my students all the technical skills at the highest possible levels. Thanks to the guidance of so many great people, I understand I need to teach students to be good people and good employees, and the technical skills will follow.”  

Lake Havasu principal, Scott Becker, describes Saunter as one who’s “sincerity and compassion that is put into all of her extra responsibilities as well as her teaching assignment.” Katie Henderson, Lake Havasu parent says, “Mrs. Saunter is the reason her children are as successful as they are in their peer and community leadership efforts.”

Sautner’s peers hold her in high esteem. Kelsey Balint, fellow staff member, emphasized, “Sautner is one of a kind. She is a well-rounded educator who inspires those around her to have love for education.”

“She is the biggest role model to me and continues to surprise me with leadership, knowledge, and genuine care that she shows her students,” says Lake Havasu student, Savannah Causey.

In her letter of support, Jamie Festa-Daigle, Lake Havasu High School Assistant Principal, stated, “She never lets the fact that we live in an isolated community, where education is not always the focus, stop her. She continues pushing our school forward.”

Sautner will receive the award at the 108th National Rural Education Convention and Research Seminar and National Rural Education Forum on October 14 in Columbus, OH. She will receive a $2,000 award and Lake Havasu High School will receive $1,000. All finalists for the award will receive recognition at the banquet.

Finalists for the 2016-2017 Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year were:

  • Tiffany Adair – Mexia, TX
  • Brenda Bowman – Galveston, IN
  • Scott Lambley – Benkleman, NE
  • Kristen Richerson – Oakfield TN
  • Leah Shannon – Livingston, MT
  • Ronald Von Glahn – De Soto, WI

The Monsanto Fund sponsors the Rural Teacher of the Year program. The fund works to substantially and meaningfully improve the lives of people around the world. The fund focuses on one goal – strengthening both farming communities and the communities where we live and work.

NREA Foundation Rural Hall of Fame

These individuals are recognized for their contributions to NREA, and as incentive to all of the members of NREA to model the work and effort of these outstanding rural educators.

  • Ray Drage: Inducted in 2007 - Ohio Past President 1979
  • Joe Newlin: Inducted in 2007 - Colorado (Executive Secretary 1980 - 1999)
  • E. Robert Stephens: Inducted in 2008 - Iowa Past President 1972
  • V. Pauline Hodges: Inducted in 2008 - Oklahoma Past President 1998
  • Edward W. Chance: Inducted in 2009 - Oklahoma and Nevada Research Leader
  • John Sullivan: Inducted in 2009 - Kansas Past President 1999 and Auctioneer
  • Travis Cliett: Inducted in 2010 - Mississippi Executive Committee Member
  • George Brown: Inducted in 2010 - Texas Past President 2001
  • Patricia Laubach: Inducted in 2010 - North Dakota Past President 1990
  • Al Eads: Inducted in 2012 - Past President 2003
  • Don Rogers: Inducted in 2015 - Texas Rural Education Association Executive Director
  • Claudette Morton: Inducted in 2015 - Montana Rural Education Leader
  • Jack Sanders: Inducted in 2015 - Rural Researcher

Howard Dawson Award

The winners of the Howard A. Dawson Best Research Paper Award received this award based on their outstanding research paper submitted to the Research Symposium.

  • 2006 - Pat Hardre
  • 2007 - Mary Beth Corbin and Vivian Martin Covington
  • 2008 - Pat Hardre and David Sullivan
  • 2009 - John Sipple, Lisa McCabe, Hope Castro
  • 2010 - Caitlin Howley, Kimberly Hambrick
  • 2011 - Aimee Howley, Karen Eppley, Marged Howley
  • 2012 - Michelle Tines
  • 2013 - Jackie Florendo, Jody Isernhagen
  • 2014 - Peter Denner and Gary Storie
  • 2015 - Matthew Burke, Elisabeth Davis, Jennifer Stephens