TARTANS Networking Event

March 18, 2019 |

The TARTANS met with teachers from the local communities for a networking event.

Photo by Duane Bonifer, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at Monmouth College.

School districts in many rural regions have struggled to recruit and retain teachers. In response to this need, the Monmouth College Department of Educational Studies has developed several initiatives, one of which is their Rural Teacher Corps, TARTANS - Teachers Allied with Rural Towns and Neighborhood Schools. The TARTANS program helps strengthen rural communities by preparing "teacher-visionaries" as catalysts for revitalizing these communities.

Assisting TARTANS is one of the key elements of our work in Western Illinois through our Western Illinois Hub, which is anchored by the Galesburg Community Foundation in partnership with Monmouth College.

Monmouth, IL (Thursday, March 4, 2019): The TARTANS networking event hosted by Ed. Studies department at Monmouth College took place last Thursday. During the event, the TARTANS met with teachers from the local community and presented to them their vision statements through poster presentations.

Responding to data that demonstrate teacher shortages are continuing to increase, Ed. Studies professors at Monmouth College started their Rural Teacher Corps initiative, TARTANS. The TARTANS program aims to prepare future teachers who are committed to teaching in rural areas. According to a recent survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 20% of all positions in fall 2018 in Illinois were unfilled or filled by an unqualified professional, which resulted in the cancelation of 225 classes. Responding to this data by launching the TARTANS program seemed natural and logical for Monmouth College Professors.

The TARTANS - Photo by Duane Bonifer, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at Monmouth College.

Professor Michelle H. Simmons and Professor Tammy La Prad explained the purpose of the meeting is to connect student participants at the TARTANS with teachers in the local community who would serve as Advisory Board. As long experienced teachers in the local community, the Advisory Board members are most valuable in supporting the TARTANS (students and Rural Teacher Corps) through their historical knowledge of the area and their strong connections to the community assets. Therefore, the advisors would serve as ambassadors to spread the word about the TARTANS, they would sever as mentors and networking contacts for the future teachers, and they would help in planning for the future of the TARTANS.

The Advisory Board - Photo by Duane Bonifer, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at Monmouth College.

After the TARTANS and the advisors briefly introduced themselves sharing their hometowns and memories of a place from childhood, the TARTANS presented their teaching vision statements in a poster session. The eight TARTANS developed their vision statements throughout the year with the help and support of their professors at Ed. Studies. Presenting their teaching visions to the advisory board is seen as a practice session for when the TARTANS will present their visions to the public during Scholars Day that will take place on April 16, at Monmouth College.

We are happy to introduce the TARTANS visions:

  • McKenzie Campbell – Keeping Fine Arts in Rural Schools
  • Courtney Gillen – Students: Rural Communities’ Most Important Assets
  • Ashley Farris – Intergenerational Connections
  • Aleeka Gentzler – Creating a Positive Rural Narrative
  • Kylee Payne – Natural Beauty of Rural Schools
  • Elizabeth Reasoner – Bridging the Gap between Foreign Places and Rural Towns through Public Libraries and Foreign Language Classes
  • Nathan Schroeder – Personalizing the Students Education and Interacting with the Local Community
  • Josh Talley – Planting Problem-Based Learning in Our Rural Schools

TARTANS program aims to prepare future rural teachers and help them establish themselves as leaders in their communities. The goals of the program are to prepare teachers who have a strong sense of “place”, mission, and rural identity – who know rural issues, challenges, and advantages – who are savvy communicators – who value collaboration within school, across community, and between diverse rural regions – and who are perceived as community leaders and catalysts for change.

We invite you to meet the TARTANS and read more about the program as well as other rural teacher corps efforts.

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