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Innovative W. Va. Partnership Targets Rural Schools

A new project to turn around a rural West Virginia school district is revving up, and groups from across the country are pitching in and watching to see what happens.

Expectations are high for Reconnecting McDowell, which was initiated in December. The goal? Transform one of the state's lowest-performing, high-poverty, rural school districts into one that gives students access to the same educational and social opportunities as the most affluent schools in the country.

We've done a couple of short blog posts on the effort, but we published today a more in-depth article on the partnership—how it started, what it's accomplished, and where it's going. The article also will appear in next week's print edition.

It's an initiative unlike many others, if any, in the country, and we plan to follow its progress. As Gayle Manchin, vice president of the West Virginia state board of education, says in the story: "I'm a big-picture person, so while it is about McDowell County, it's about much more than [the county]; it's about rural. If we can create the model that will provide the solution, we will have provided the model for not only other counties in West Virginia, but for counties across the country."

A special thanks to staff photographer Nicole Frugé, whose strong photos give the story context and a sense of place.

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