Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Former Superintendent Robin Jones has made a triumphant return to her childhood school, Kit Carson Elementary, but this time as an administrator. Jones, who earned her degrees and credentials at various universities before coming back to Kit Carson as superintendent, believes that no one else would treat the school the way she would, which is why she took the job.
This return to rural areas, known as “brain gain,” is a trend that is gaining traction. A recent study found that college graduates who attended rural K-12 schools are more likely to return to their hometowns, bringing their education and skills back to their communities.
For Jones, her decision to return to Kit Carson was deeply personal. Having grown up in the area and having familial ties to the school, she described it as a second home for the community. She believes that going back to where you grew up for work is the most rewarding job experience.
Jones is not alone in her decision to return to her rural hometown. Tom O’Malley, superintendent of Modoc Joint Unified School District, also found himself coming back to his roots in Alturas after leaving for a period of time. While his return was accidental, O’Malley discovered his passion for education while coaching football at Modoc High School. Realizing that he felt most comfortable in Alturas, he decided to return with his wife and child.
Living in a rural area does require sacrifices, but O’Malley firmly believes that it is worth it to see his students succeed. He acknowledges the challenges but is determined to make a difference in his community.
Miguel Lomeli, president of the San Lucas Unified School District (SLUSD) board, also made the choice to return to his rural hometown after earning his accounting degree. Lomeli had the opportunity to get involved with SLUSD when his oldest son started attending, and he has been on the school board since the early 2000s. For Lomeli, firsthand experience of the school district is crucial to his role as president of the board.
Maribel Velasco, board clerk at SLUSD, shares a similar connection to her community. Having attended the school herself, Velasco has a strong bond with the teachers and the community they serve. She returned to San Lucas to be closer to her family, and her personal connection helps her in her position on the school board.
Overall, these individuals demonstrate the power of returning to one’s rural hometown. Their passion for education and dedication to their communities make a profound impact on the students they serve. As more college graduates choose to return to their rural roots, these communities are experiencing a “brain gain” that promises a brighter future for generations to come.