Successful rural community development efforts focus on harnessing the resources already present to find community solutions to community concerns. For these efforts to be successful, high levels of cooperation, communication and trust need to be built within the community. This paper is based on a pilot study which investigated the role of the local school(s) in the process. The study found that not only do schools educate youth, but they perform a myriad of other functions within their communities. The study also investigated those factors which influence the nature and extent of a school's contribution to its community, and found that leadership, both within the school and in the wider community, is central to the school-community partnership. A leadership philosophy which supports community participation and shared decision making ensures that relevant solutions are found to meet local community needs.