This study explored the question “What roles does rurality play in the professional lives of teachers in northern Wisconsin?” Using narrative analysis of four participants’ interviews about their lives working in rural schools, this paper compares participants’ stories with dominant narratives about rural schools and communities. Common depictions of rural people, places, and work often oversimplify the complex relationships among school, community, staff, and students. This study found that participants a.) feel a sense of belonging in rural places despite the challenges of living and working there, b.) create and maintain a strong professional family in order to mitigate rural school recruitment and retention difficulties, and c.) experience school and community partnerships that are both supportive and challenging. This study calls for a more critical and complex representation of rural people and places, especially schools, in order to work against the dominant narratives about rurality that exist in popular imagination.

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