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July 28, 2021 – State School Superintendent Richard Woods is establishing a new Office of Rural Education and Innovation at the Georgia Department of Education, providing a continued, cabinet-level voice for the needs of rural Georgia in K-12 education policy.
Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, a Georgia educational leader with more than 31 years of experience, has been selected to lead the new office. Dr. Ragan-Martin, who most recently served as Superintendent of the Early County School System and President of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, will serve as Deputy Superintendent for Rural Education and Innovation beginning in October.
“It is a top priority of my administration to strengthen and bring greater opportunities and economic prosperity to rural Georgia," Governor Brian Kemp said. “The Georgia Department of Education's new Office of Rural Education and Innovation will support those efforts to renew and revitalize rural Georgia and ensure our state remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family."
“Our rural schools and districts face unique challenges and resource gaps – and many of those challenges have only intensified due to the pandemic," Superintendent Woods said. “That's something I understand personally, as a former teacher and administrator in a rural Georgia school district. There is also, though, an opportunity for a transformational investment in rural Georgia that could change the lives of children and the course of their communities. That's what I'm tasking our new Office of Rural Education and Innovation with working toward. I'm thrilled Dr. Ragan-Martin has agreed to lead this work – her experience, commitment, and deep roots in rural Georgia make her the perfect fit for this role."
The Office of Rural Education and Innovation will be established using Georgia's ARP-ESSER federal stimulus funds, and will work to address educational needs in rural Georgia including connectivity; teacher retention and recruitment; resources and funding; and educator development. The office will establish state and community partnerships to channel resources and identify funding opportunities within the agency to support rural areas of the state.
About Deputy Superintendent for Rural Education and Innovation Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin
Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin has served as Superintendent of the Early County School System – a district serving approximately 2,000 students in rural Southwest Georgia – since 2013.
In that role, she has placed a strong emphasis on instruction and student engagement; expanded opportunities for students; and wraparound services, leading the district to multiple recognitions from the Georgia School Boards Association – including Quality, Distinguished, and Exemplary Board status along with the Leading Edge Award in 2019.
She also served as the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 President of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, and served on the GSBA Rural Task Force from 2018 to 2020.
Dr. Ragan-Martin holds a bachelor's degree in English from Mount Holyoke College, a master's in English Education from Georgia Southwestern College, and an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Valdosta State University. She has deep roots in rural Georgia: her sons currently attend Early County High School, and she is a graduate of Randolph County Schools.
As Deputy Superintendent for Rural Education and Innovation, Dr. Ragan-Martin will be empowered to hire staff and structure a team in support of identified regions, bringing on the expertise, insight, and experience needed to address the unique needs of rural Georgia. Her team will work hand in hand with school and community leaders to address gaps that were brought to the forefront during the pandemic, chart a roadmap beyond recovery to renewal, and tackle any additional barriers that directly impact academic outcomes and opportunities for students.