RSA Summer Conference 

"Better People, Better Programs" 

July 8-10, 2018

  Otesaga Resort, Cooperstown, NY

2018 RSA Summer Conference:

Another Superb Collection of Speakers and Events

"Excellent! Thank you and congratulations on an outstanding conference!! It was my first conference and it benefited me greatly. I am currently in the process of emailing our entire board of education to let them know everything they missed out on!"

The 2018 Rural Schools Association's Annual Summer conference drew hundreds to the Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown from July 8-10. 

The conference began earlier than usual with the addition of a pre conference panel on school safety. A packed room full of concerned rural school administrators, board members, principals, teachers, and others heard from New York State Insurance Reciprocal's Director of Risk Management, J. Brett Carruthers, and New York State School Boards Association's General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director, Jay Worona talk about strategies to reduce risk in today's difficult and complicated school environment.

Our traditional Sunday dinner included remarks from New York State Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia.


RSA awards were bestowed as follows: 

NYS Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia
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Anne Z. Paulin Distinguished Service Award went to Nicholas Savin

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RSA Appreciation Award went to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner


William Deming Recognition Awards, Presented by the Deming Family, went to

Sharon Sweeney and Robert Lowry


James Dawson Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Don Hobart and James Tallon.

Following dinner, guests traveled by trolley to the Farmer's Museum for a gorgeous private reception. 

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Monday was full! First thing in the morning, Scott Jordan, the National Rural Teacher of the Year and 8th Grade Science & HS Fisheries & Wildlife Teacher from Cuba Rushford CSD inspired us all with an integrated program he built where students engage with local wildlife and environmental preservation and education , local and national outreach via television production, an extended field trip where they not only learn about another context, but engage in charitable work there as well. 

Monday's lunchtime speakers always dazzle. Two brilliant young women from NYS FFA gave their awards talks and were met with standing ovations: 

Danielle Herrick, FFA Oratorical Winner for Prepared Public Speaking is from Pioneer CSD, and was advised by Jon Clayson and Mary-Lou Genaway. She spoke eloquently about the need for migrant farm workers, and the potential impact of recent deportation policies on US agriculture and food systems.

Anna Bica, FFA Oratorical Winner for Extemporaneous Public Speaking is from South Jefferson CSD, and was advised by Bill Stowell. She inspired us with her incredible recall of numerous statistics illustrating the enhanced efficiency and efficacy afforded by recent advances in agricultural technology.


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L to R: Dave Little, Executive Director, RSA; Anna Bica, Winner, Extemporaneous Public Speaking;  Danielle Herrick, Winner, Prepared Public Speaking; and Robert Lulley, Executive Director, NYSIR.

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In the afternoon, back by popular demand, Dr. John Sipple spoke about some of the projects he is working on that use various data tools.


This was followed by Doug LaFleur, President of Eidex talking about how one can use data to inform decisions and discussions for school districts. 

Our Monday dinner began with opening remarks by RSA's new Board Chair, Charles Chafee, and Vice Chair, Doug Gustin. This was followed by a talk from the very entertaining, Dr. Allen Pratt, Executive Director of the National Rural Schools Association. Dr. Pratt wove several important messages into stories about his travels, whiskey, ghosts, and cheese, not the least of which was that in the rural areas of NY, we need to ruggedly persist, and we need to toot our own horns about it from time to time to let leaders and policy makers know we are still here, still struggling, still making a go of it.

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​New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli drew in over 100 on his Tuesday morning talk about recent, current, and future directions for NY finance related to rural schools. 

Overall, this is a close-knit crowd who is happy to be together again at the Otesaga each year. The weather was fantastic for sitting on a rocking chair on the porch and gazing at the lake, or sitting around the fire pit in the evening and catching up on the latest.  We received more positive feedback than ever about this conference and this location. We are already working to ensure next year does not disappoint!

Throughout these events, educational sessions presented by our rural schools, or co-presented with a vendor and a rural school, inspired and informed their audiences with programming and initiatives they are having success with. Scroll down for more details. 


We are always so impressed with the skill, knowledge, and confidence of our young people!

To find materials presenters would like to share with you, please click on the appropriate link below:


PreConference Summit

School Safety Summit with Jay Worona, General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director, NYSSBA; and J. Brett Carruthers, Director of Risk Management, NYSIR

Session I

Stronger Together: Improving Instructional Leadership through Effective Partnerships with Amy Konz, Regional Data Leader, Madison-Oneida BOCES (MORIC) & Laurie Hedges, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Support, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton- Otsego BOCES

State Aid In Rural Schools with Brian Fessler, Deputy Director of Governmental Relations, NYS School Boards Association

School Garden/Farm to Lunch Table with Annette Hammond, Superintendent; Heather Wilcox, Principal; Dorothy Iannello, District Treasurer; Alan Digsby, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor; Susan Sebeck, School Food Service Manager

Reflections on Superintendent Evaluations: A Panel Discussion with Michael L. Horning, Jr., Executive Vice President, SuperEval; Christopher J. Dailey, Superintendent, Batavia City CSD; Gregory Molloy, Superintendent, Morrisville-Eaton CSD; & Scott E. Payne, Superintendent, Pine Valley CSD 

Session II

Strategic Responses to Demographic Shifts in Rural Schools with Jeffrey Mattison, District Superintendent, TST BOCES & Luvell Brown, Superintendent, Ithaca CSD

Why Real Family Engagement Matters with Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Direcyor, NYS PTA

Digital Connection to Early Literacy Utilizing Readers and Writers Workshop with James Nee, PreK-12 Principal; Lianne Knight, Director of Pupil Services; Jenna Williams, Literacy Specialist; Beth Nee, 4th Grade Teacher; and Nicole Weakfall, 4th Grade Teacher, Colton-Pierrpont CSD

Improving the Learning Environment through Fiscal Innovation with David Angello, Senior Business Development Manager, Johnson Controls and Greg Molloy, Superintendent, Morrisville Eaton CSD.


Session III

How Adult Education Interactions with Community Can Benefit Schools with Brenda Wolak, Senior Coordinator; and Randy Raux, Community Education Coordinator. Madison-Oneida BOCES

Youth Employment and Career Awareness Preparation with Julie Donlon, Assistant Superintendent, Genesee Valley Educational Partnership; Linda LeBlond, Executive Director, Wyoming COunty Business Education Council; Norb Fuest, Co-Founder and BOCES Board of Education member.

The Relationship Between Flipped Classroom Intervention Program and Improving Instructional Delivery with Sarah Perry, Teacher of Mathematics, Alexander CSD

Personalized Paths for Teacher and Student Success– Meeting Students Where They Are with Doc Watson, Right Path and Liz Fuentes, Math Teacher, Liberty CSD

Panel Presentation

Data, Deserts, and Communities: Insights for BOCES, Districts, and Schools with Prof. John W. Sipple, Cornell University & Doug LaFleur, EidexInsights

Session IV

Bringing Ag Education Back To A Proud Rural School District with Paul Berry, Superintendent, Mount Markham CSD; Eric Bugbee, Agriculture Educator, Mount Markham CSD; ET AL

Shared Sports: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Renee Garrett, Superintendent, Forestville CSD; Todd Crandall, Superintendent, Silver Creek CSD; Scott Hazelton, Athletic Director, ForestvilleCSD; and Sean Helmer, Althetic Director, Silver Creek CSD

Telling Student Learning Stories with Data Dashboards with Kent Maslin, Building Principal, Groton CSD and Margo Martin, Superintendent, Groton CSD

Kinesthetic Strategies to Improve Math and Reading Outcomes with Suzy Koontz, Founder & CEO, Learn Thru Movement and Jennifer King, Kindergarten teacher, Susquehanna Valley CSD.