How Rural High Schools are Preparing Students for College and Careers through Dual Enrollment and Career and Technical Education

How Rural High Schools are Preparing Students for College and Careers through Dual Enrollment and Career and Technical Education
How Rural High Schools are Preparing Students for College and Careers through Dual Enrollment and Career and Technical Education


This webinar described how rural schools are preparing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college and in jobs by creating learning opportunities through dual enrollment and career and technical education. We highlighted the challenges and successes of two small, rural high schools that are improving college and career readiness for all students by collaborating with partners such as community colleges and local businesses.

Patton Springs School in Afton, Texas serves a highly mobile, low-income population of students in grades K-12 in a very rural setting. In partnership with two regional community colleges, Patton Springs offers dual enrollment opportunities to all students, enabling students to accumulate college credit while still in high school. Patton Springs was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School in 2009 for its superior standards of academic excellence and has been a Texas Title I Distinguished School for over 10 years.

Loving High School in Loving, New Mexico serves a largely Latino, low-income rural population in an area of low economic growth. Loving uses the National Career Clusters model with integrated learning opportunities to provide career pathways and programs of study for students that are aligned to jobs in the community, such as health sciences and home construction. In addition, approximately 75% of students in grades 9-12 are dually enrolled in classes to earn college credit. Loving High School was awarded a bronze medal in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2010 “Best High Schools” rankings, a recognition of the school’s success in achieving proficiency and college readiness for less advantaged student groups.

Larry McClenny, Superintendent, Patton Springs ISD, Afton, TX
Kristina Baca, Superintendent, Loving Municipal Schools, Loving, NM
John White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach, U.S. Department of Education




Dr. Kris Baca is serving as Superintendent of Loving Municipal Schools for the second year. Loving is a small district located in southeastern New Mexico. The district is home to just under 600 pre K-12 students. Dr. Baca has been an educator for 29 years and has served in a variety of roles including teacher, Education and Outreach Specialist with the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Executive Director for the Southeastern New Mexico Educational Resource Center, Executive Director for the Regional Education Resource Center serving northern New Mexico school districts, and an Elementary School Principal. Dr. Baca’s experience has prepared her as an educator and teacher at heart. As part of these responsibilities Dr. Baca has recognized the need for students to develop in career and technical pathways which are part of their tapestry of education, making learning relevant and meaningful while recognizing the responsibility of rigor. Dr. Baca herself as a high school student found learning uninteresting and boring. Once entering college she discovered an internal force that moved her into the educational field where she could make a difference in making learning both meaningful and relevant. It has been a long road from consulting in the era of Outcome-based Education to Career and Technical Education. She is passionate about learning and students.


Larry McClenny is the Superintendent of Patton Springs ISD in Afton, Texas, a rural community 70 miles east of Lubbock. Patton Springs serves approximately 100 students in its PK-12 school. Mr. McClenny has been Superintendent since 1998 and previously served as the PK-12 Principal of Patton Springs for five years. He held the role of Assistant Principal before this for two years and also served as both a teacher and coach during this time.  Mr. McClenny is involved in his community in many regards, including as a Minister for the church of Christ since 1982, as a library board member in Dickens County and as a parent leader in 4-H. He has twice been selected at the Texas Region 17 Superintendent of the Year, and is proud to lead a school district that has been granted the Texas Education Agency’s Academic Award for Exemplary status for fourteen consecutive years.


John White is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach within the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. He oversees day-to-day communication and outreach to rural schools, colleges, other stakeholders, and the media covering issues related to education in rural areas. He represents the Secretary of Education on the White House Rural Council and is the Secretary’s designee to the Interagency Coordinating Council for the Appalachian Regional Development Initiative (ARDI). President Obama created the new White House Rural Council by executive order in June 2011 to work across government to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth. ARDI is designed to better deploy and coordinate federal resources in a targeted way to strengthen and diversify the Appalachian economy. Mr. White has held communications positions in the public and private sectors, and began his career as a newspaper journalist. He joined the U.S. Department of Education in May 2009 after serving as the Chief Communications Officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland for five school years. John has facilitated department-wide communication and a better understanding of rural issues, drawing upon public input, visits to rural communities throughout the nation, and the experiences of his youth. John was raised in Calvert County, MD in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when there were only two high schools, tobacco fields and family farms in between.

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Kristina Baca
Loving Municipal Schools
602 South Sixth
Loving, NM 88256


Larry McClenny
Patton Springs ISD
1261 East Fm 193
Afton, TX 79220


John White
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Room 5W200
Washington DC, 20202


Webinar Resources


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.