Tom Farmer

Thomas W. Farmer is Director of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support and Principal Investigator of the Rural Early Adolescent Learning Program. He is also a member of the faculty in the Department of Education and School Psychology and Special Education at Pennsylvania State University and teaches pre-service and master’s level teacher preparation courses on the characteristics and instructional needs of students with learning difficulties. Dr. Farmer’s research focuses on the school adjustment of children and adolescents from low-resource rural communities. He has established an intensive training program to prepare intervention specialists at the elementary, middle, and high school level to support teachers in rural districts who serve high concentrations of low performing students. He has also developed a variety of professional development programs that blend academic instruction, behavior management, and social competence support strategies to enhance the educational outcomes of low achieving rural children and youth. Dr. Farmer grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia and spent much of his youth working on his neighbor’s dairy farm. Reflecting his own experiences and his ongoing research on the transition to adulthood of rural youth from high poverty areas, Dr. Farmer’s future research interests include the development and evaluation of programs to support rural youth as they transition from high school to the workforce or college.


Recent Related Publications

Farmer, T. W., Murray, R. M., Fedora, F. P., & Hutchens, B. (under review). Supporting students in low resource rural schools: The Intervention Specialist Program. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Farmer, T. W., Thompson, J. H., LaTendresse, S., & Irvin, M. (under review). What is a successful outcome for African American adolescents from high poverty rural districts? Perspectives of parents, teachers, and community leaders. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Gut, D., Farmer, T. W., Bishop, J. L., Hives, J., Aaron, A., & Jackson, F. (2004). The School Engagement Project: Academic engagement enhancement. Preventing School Failure, 48, 4-9.

Related Research Projects

Dr. Farmer has directed several research projects in rural school districts that are related to the present work. These include The Rural Competence Support Project (Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education), The Intervention Specialist Training Program (Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation), The Developmental Pathways of Rural African American Adolescents Study (Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention), Project BEST: Behavioral and Emotional Support Training to Enhance the Adjustment of At-Risk Students in Middle School (Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education), The Social Dynamics Training Program (Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education), and The Carolina Longitudinal Study ( National Institute of Mental Health).


Tom Farmer
National Research Center on Rural Education Support
Department of Education & School Psychology & Special Education
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA, 16802
(814) 867-0025