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National Rural Education Association


National Forum to Advance Rural Education October 20-21, 2022

Keynote speakers

Eric Sheninger

Eric Sheninger, Author and Senior Fellow on Digital Leadership, International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE)
Eric works with schools throughout the world helping educators meet and exceed their potential to improve outcomes for learners. Prior to this, he was the award-winning principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership, his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric has emerged as an innovative leader, best-selling author, and sought-after speaker. His main focus is using research and evidence-based practices to empower learners, improve communications with stakeholders, enhance public relations, create a positive brand presence, discover opportunities, transform learning spaces, and help educators grow professionally in the digital age.

Benjamin Winchester

Benjamin Winchester, Rural Sociologist
Ben has been working in and for small towns across the Midwest for over twenty-five years. Ben trained as a rural sociologist and works as a senior research fellow for the University of Minnesota extension. His applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” is a new way of looking at rural America. He recently received the International Rural Renewal Research Prize in 2021 for this work. He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.

Gerry Brooks

Gerry Brooks, Principal and Motivational Speaker
Gerry Brooks is a veteran educator in Lexington, Kentucky. His educational experience includes six years in the classroom, two years as an intervention specialist, and twelve years as an administrator. He is a passionate public speaker whose focus is on encouraging teachers to improve their instruction through personal climate and culture strategies. He desires to help administrators focus on how to lead all staff in a positive and constructive manner. His following on social media has developed through humorous videos that focus on real-world educational experiences. He is currently followed on social media sites by over 500,000 people.

From Their Perspective
This year, we will feature rural educator and student voices from across the country to share their perspectives on rural education, life in rural communities, current opportunities and barriers they face, and more.

Portraits of speakers sitting together on the stage and talking