At its annual fall meeting on Nov. 15, the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance presented MAPS superintendent Don Stevens with the Rural Advocacy Award. The inaugural award was presented in recognition of his "dedication and significant efforts to strengthen and support rural schools in Wisconsin."
The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance was created to meet the unique needs of rural schools throughout the state. The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance is supported by the Wisconsin Cooperative Education Services Agency (CESA) districts, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the University of Wisconsin System, and rural school districts throughout Wisconsin.
In a letter nominating Stevens, Lodi School District superintendent Charles Pursell wrote of the leadership exhibited by Stevens on behalf of rural schools as a superintendent of the Taylor, North Crawford, and Spencer School Districts and as director of CESA #5.
"For the past 22 years, Don has been the agency administrator of CESA #5, serving 35 rural school districts in central Wisconsin," Pursell wrote. "Throughout those years, he worked diligently and fought hard to provide quality programs and opportunities for the youth in his districts, as well as students throughout Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance has evolved into an active organization representing rural school districts and stakeholders throughout the state. It is most appropriate that the first Rural Advocacy Award be presented to its strong proponent and spokesman, Don Stevens."
Stevens has long held the belief that there should be an organization with the singular focus of serving and strengthening rural schools and their communities. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance and served as the first president of the board of directors from 2009-2011. In addition to being a founding member of Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, Stevens was elected to the National Rural Education Association and served as its president in 2009-10.