Policies and Professional Development: An Oil Boom’s Effect on Rural Schools and Teachers
In 2008, Western North Dakota experienced an extraordinary energy boom, creating waves of new residents seeking employment in the lucrative oil fields. Resultantly, many communities in the area, which were almost exclusively isolated and rural, dramatically changed. The purpose of this qualitative single-case study was to investigate the experiences of school staff in two rural schools within the North Dakota oil boom region. Data were teacher and administrator interviews with 15 participants and classroom observations. The findings indicated that teachers faced three key challenges in their classrooms as a result of the population influx, including: changing educational space, student academic proficiency, and a lack of cultural competence and pedagogical knowledge to effectively educate new, diverse students. Implications for policies and teacher professional development in rural boomtown areas are discussed.