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The Best North Iowa Small Town Schools

The Best North Iowa Small Town Schools

By Rachel Smith

School corridor with lockers. 3d illustration

For years, television and movies have portrayed the perfectness of living in a small town.  The friendly wave from youngsters as they ride their bikes through the streets.  A whistling mailman as he places items in a mailbox.  Vibrant flowers along Main Street. 

And even though we’re told not to believe everything we see on the big screen; they aren’t far off in their depiction of small towns.  At least, for North Iowa anyway!

A lot of where we end up living in our adult life depends on where and how we grew up.  If all you know is the concrete jungle of a large, bustling metropolis, the thought of a rural town of only a thousand people may scare you.  The same goes for someone growing up on the county roads of rural Iowa.  The traffic, congestion, pollution, and fear of crime will likely halt you from moving to the big city. 

In fact, for some people, even the size of Mason City or Clear Lake is too much for them to handle. 

Thankfully, Jane Fischer and her team of associates are skilled realtors, specializing in accommodating the needs of those who are looking for that perfect small-town fit.  A place to call home, raise a family, and enjoy the countless perks of rural North Iowa. 

And it’s not just finding the perfect house.  There is another factor ranking high on the list when choosing a location to search for your dream home: school. 

Rural schools are not the same as your bigger districts.  These days, they’re often consolidated with other nearby towns, factoring in added travel times, and bussing for students.  Still, being smaller has so many benefits.  The individualized classes provide a high level of support for students, giving them that edge they need to succeed after graduation and into adulthood. 

And boy, oh boy, are there a lot of options for awesome rural school districts in North Iowa. 

Garner-Hayfield-Ventura (GHV):

With nearly 1000 students in this district, the schools are location in Garner with an outlying Education Center in Ventura.  Upon consolidation, the district made it their mission to prepare students for a successful future in a kind, caring, and compassionate way.  As part of the Top of Iowa Conference, they offer a wide selection of athletic opportunities, as well as drama, music, and theater.  Their commitment to excellence does not go unnoticed in the area, and many are proud to be a Cardinal!

Central Springs:

This school district is a conglomerate of consolidation at its best.  And it’s fairly new, only being “Central Springs” since 2011.  With their headquarters located in Manly, Iowa, the district serves the towns of Nora Springs, Rock Falls, Plymouth, Manly and Hanlontown.  Providing a quality education for just under 800 students throughout the district, they strive to cultivate a positive learning environment that engages and empowers all students.  Many students put on their royal blue and black uniforms with pride, taking the field or court in the Top of Iowa Conference with Panther Pride.  They also offer a wide array of activities for students in the Arts, Clubs and academic organizations.


They may be small, but they are mighty Vikings!  Serving just under 600 students in Northwood, Kensett and surrounding rural areas, this school district, also in the Top of Iowa Conference, packs a punch of activity.  First and foremost, they strive to create healthy, educational, ethical and productive citizens.  Being a small school, they are able to keep their finger on the pulse of every student in the district.  Athletics, Academics and the Arts are the heart and soul of the entire school.


Located in the heart of Mitchell County, the Osage School District serves just under 1000 students.  Their mission is to sustain and enhance a caring community to produce enthusiasm and lifelong learning.  This collaboration between the community and the school instils a sense of pride in the Green Devils.  Considered a powerhouse in the Top of Iowa Conference, they don’t just excel in Athletics.  Osage High School is recognized in the National Rankings and earned a bronze medal in both 2016 and 2018. Schools are ranked based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college.

Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock (RRMR):

Serving approximately 450 students, this rural public school in Floyd County is committed to providing an environment conducive to developing lifelong learners capable of being successful, responsible, contributing members of an ever-changing world.  Also in the Top of Iowa Conference, they offer a wide variety of athletic programs to students, as well as activities in music, art, FFA and other various organizations.  “Every student, Every day” is their mantra when shaping the lives of these young individuals, helping them become the best they can be in life. 

West Fork:

Another example of consolidation at work in North Iowa, the West Fork school district consists of the towns (and rural areas) of Rockwell, Sheffield, Swaledale, Meservey, Thornton, Dougherty and Chapin.  While once upon a time they were major rivals on the field, the Warhawks, also part of the Top of Iowa Conference, are a force to be reckoned with in any sport.  Even with the consolidation, the district educates just over 700 students.  Their teachers and staff are dedicated to creating successful learners, citizens, and leaders.

The stigma out in the world about “small towns” and how they can’t offer the same quality education or extra-curricular activities like a big city school must be squashed.  In so many ways, being a student in these smaller, rural public schools gives them even more of an advantage.  More individualized learning, more opportunity, more possibilities for involvement to further their growth into adulthood. 

If you’re on the fence, I suggest having Jane Fischer and her team pull up home buying options in any of these great school districts.  Small and mighty, they will surely equip your youngster for wherever life takes them.

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