Conference speakers include:
Dr. Pamela J. Buffington, PhD., is the Director of Rural the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiatives for the US Division at Education Development Center (EDC) where she focuses on bridging research and practice with STEM researchers and practitioners particularly in service to the needs of rural schools and districts. Dr. Buffington is an expert in technology integration in education, with extensive work in mathematics and science, and she has desig ned and implemented online and face-to-face professional development materials. She is the PI on an NSF funded grant to develop and study a blended-learning PD program to support mathematics teachers in enhancing English learners' mathematics learning. Additionally, Dr. Buffington provides outreach, needs sensing, technical assistance and dissemination to educational leaders and stakeholders for the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands (REL-NEI). Dr. Buffington also leads the work of the Rural Research Advisors where she supports and informs REL NEI research in rural schools and communities and serves on the Cross-REL Rural Working Group. Buffington leads the Student Success in Mathematics Partnership (SSMP) for Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia focusing on implementing a research agenda concentrating on mathematics success for all learners, especially those students currently being underserved. In addition to the research, development, and policy work of recent years, Buffington has nearly two decades of experience as mathematics, physics, and computer science teacher which she has leveraged in her equity-oriented STEM efforts.
Dr. Sheneka M. Williams (Ed.D., 2007, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University) is professor and chairperson of the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Prior to accepting a position at Michigan State University, Dr. Williams spent the first 13 years of her academic career at the University of Georgia.
Having grown up in rural Alabama, Dr. Williams has a keen interest in the lives and educational experiences of African Americans who live in rural contexts. Hence, her current research has two main foci: rural education and school desegregation. Dr. Williams’s research has been published in Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Peabody Journal of Education, and Urban Education. In 2019 she guest-edited an issue of the Peabody Journal of Education that commemorated the 65thanniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Her research and contemporary perspectives concerning Brown have also been highlighted in interviews with NPR’s On Point and Don Lemon’s (of CNN) Silence is Not an Option podcast. Her rural research is published in a co-edited book, Educational opportunity in rural contexts: The politics of place, and she has two recent works published in AERA Open and a forthcoming chapter in the Handbook of Rural Education. She has also published a chapter, titled, “Strong Rural Learners” in Cultivating rural education: A people-focused Approach for States.
Dr. Williams is the Vice President-elect for Division L of the American Educational Research Association, where she also serves on the nominating committee for the Rural Special Interest Group. Dr. Williams consistently serves the profession as a mentor, reviewer, and advisor to numerous grant projects, editorial boards, colleagues, and students.
Dr. Williams prides herself on being a scholar and a leader who sees her work as part of the greater good.
Mr. Benjamin Winchester
Rural Sociologist, University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality 2001. Masters of Science, Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. 1995. B.A. Mathematics, Area of Concentration in Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris.
Ben has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America.
Winchester received his B.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris (1995) and M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2001). He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, Morris and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.