Rural Schools Collaborative is committed to supporting the rural teacher pipeline wherever we can, including marketing open positions in the new Teach Rural Job Board. Our hope is the job board will support and uplift local efforts to attract teachers, including this recent collaborative partnership - Teach in the Ozarks. This group of rural school districts in south-central Missouri have banded together to launch a collaborative mission aimed at attracting new educators to the Ozarks. Dr. Eric Allen, who spoke with Rural Schools Collaborative previously about the community-centric model his district adopted to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics, shared this new initiative also relies on the power of the Ozarks community to inspire and attract teachers to the region's open positions. To learn more about this innovative action, please visit their website at: https://teachintheozarks.com/
Twenty-two school districts across seven counties in Southern Missouri have come together to recruit new education talent to their region. The newly launched, “Teach in the Ozarks” initiative is a one-of-a-kind effort spurred by yet another semester of school starting with open teaching positions.
Eric Allen, Superintendent of Alton R-IV School District, explained that right now, about two dozen districts are all trading the same few teachers, and at the beginning of each school year, some of the districts are left with open spots. “So whether that’s us losing a great counselor, but getting a great math teacher, or vice versa, these kids are still the ones going without, and that’s just not sustainable,” he said.
The mission of the initiative is to bring awareness to their region as an attractive place to teach and live. Students in the Ozarks deserve a high quality education from certified, passionate educators. The communities of the Teach in the Ozarks Collective are warm and welcoming places that want to foster high quality education and will invest in those who come to provide that education. The Ozarks is one of the nations most beautiful regions that offers a low cost of living and a high quality of life, and living and working in these communities will be a unique and enriching opportunity. Each year, there are dozens of teaching positions open across grade-level and subject matter. These smaller districts offer unique opportunities to explore a wide range of subject matter, and to experience a truly connected and invested community.
“If you are a teacher in one of these districts for just 2 or 3 years, you’ll know almost every employee in the district, and know all the families,” Allen said. “ You’ll make connections quickly, and have support from a very hands-on community of educators and parents.”
Educators are afforded a close relationship with students; on average the ratio of students to teachers is 14:1. Relocation to this bucolic region also offers a high quality of life at a low cost of living. The Ozark region's cost of living is 23 percent lower than the U.S. average.
“We wanted a quiet, slower pace to our lives; we found it here. The Ozarks are beautiful, peaceful, and focused on relationships and community. My husband and I have been teaching over 20 years in a variety of locations: Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, and we love it here,” said Larissa Staton, 5th grade Teacher at Alton R-IV School District.
Interested applicants are urged to visit teachintheozarks.com to find out more about the Teach in the Ozarks Initiative and find open positions.
Teach in the Ozarks is located in Rural Schools Collaborative's Missouri Ozarks Regional Hub, headed up by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Thank you to Dr. Allen for sharing this press release, and to Carol Silvey for connecting Dr. Allen with Rural Schools Collaborative. To learn more about other rural teacher preparation and recruitment efforts around the country, check out our Rural Teacher Corps landing page. Head over to the Teach Rural Job Board to find open positions in rural districts across the country, including the Ozarks!