Making the Case

The preparation of outstanding teacher-leaders should be at the forefront of rural development strategies.

Making the Case

Rural Teacher Corps Address Key Issues

Our work to develop and support Rural Teacher Corps programs is based on the following rationale:

Rural communities and their schools have been weakened by:

  • Depopulation
  • Social and capital flight
  • Farm consolidation
  • Loss of small businesses
  • Skilled workforce shortages

Education is a linchpin issue in rural economic development:

  • Public school systems are why many small towns still exist;
  • Families will not relocate to small communities unless they believe public school systems are strong;
  • School systems are often among the largest, if not the largest, employer in a rural community;
  • Education has always been a starting point for meaningful change.

However, sustaining and strengthening rural schools has many challenges:

  • Unprecedented teacher shortages are on the horizon, especially in the STEM and special needs areas;
  • School districts continue to adhere to structures and models that are inappropriate for the nature of small communities in the 21st Century;
  • Schools and their personnel often lack the nimbleness and adaptive abilities required to utilize new technologies in ways that make small schools more effective and viable.

The answer to these challenges is, in part, to begin recruiting and preparing rural teachers who:

  • Have a strong sense of place, mission, and rural identity (in other words—not just looking for a first job before leaving for a larger district);
  • Have a more comprehensive understanding of rural “issues,” including economic-, environmental-, and justice-related;
  • Are savvy communicators, networkers, and users of new media;
  • Recognize the imperative to and value of collaboration—within a school, across the community, and between diverse rural regions;
  • Are perceived as community leaders and catalysts for change.

Change rarely comes from the middle, and it is unlikely that traditional teacher education programs will serve as early catalysts in developing the type of teacher-leaders desperately needed by rural schools and their communities. It is also unlikely that a prescriptive model, one developed from the top down, will lead to meaningful change.

Therefore, the Rural Schools Collaborative board of directors is committed to working with a diverse set of organizations to develop an active cadre of Rural Teacher Corps programs.

If you or your institution would like to participate in the Rural Teacher Corps planning project, please contact Rural Schools Collaborative at .