Higher Education Partners Benefit Schools

By Douglas E. Arnold and Edgar H. Thompson

Virginia is a geographically large and diverse state. The school districts in the rural southwest corner of the state are very different than the larger and more affluent districts to the north. To address some of the disparities among those districts, the Virginia General Assembly two decades ago created the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium. The consortium, made up of 16 school systems, allows those schools to pool their resources.

Our institution, Emory & Henry College, is one of the higher education members of the consortium. We are a major provider of staff development through specialized programs of courses, special graduate programs, and other efforts.

Our successes in working with the Southwest Virginia districts suggest that school leaders could find great value in forming similar partnerships with other districts and with colleges and universities. Frankly, we never imagined that our work with our consortium would lead to these results, but it has. We recommend harnessing the energy of such collaboration.

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