Wyoming Catalyst Partner Featured on Wyoming Public Radio

Catalyst Initiative recipients at the University of Wyoming talk about the importance of rural teacher retention on Wyoming Public Radio

April 8, 2022 |
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Photos courtesy of Wyoming Public Media; pictured left to right: Kate Welsh, Alex Martin, Leslie Cook, Kate Kniss

Our 2021 Catalyst Grant Initiative Recipients at the University of Wyoming share the importance of rural teacher retention on Wyoming Public Radio's Open Spaces. Wyoming is part of our Northern Rockies Regional Hub and anchored by our partners at Teton Science Schools.

Listen to and read the full story on Wyoming Public Media.

This April, Dr. Kate Welsh, Alex Martin, Kate Kniss, and Leslie Cook had the opportunity to speak with Wyoming Public Radio's Open Spaces about the rural teacher corps program they are working together to launch at the University of Wyoming.

One challenge rural schools face is retaining teachers. Dr. Welsh, a professor in the University of Wyoming's School of Teacher Education, says that, "There are lots of teachers who go into the profession and leave within the first three years and that's more intense in rural communities."

Connecting educators to the community they teach in is key to retaining rural teachers. And, one of the ways we can foster those connections is through place-based education, which involves connecting teachers to the community through school and class projects that take advantage of a community's native resources and landscapes.

As a recipient of Rural Schools Collaborative's 2021 Catalyst Grants Initiative, the University of Wyoming received funds to launch a rural teacher corps program at UW. Program collaborators are exploring retention strategies, including a mentorship program, networking opportunities, and listening to the needs of teachers. The findings of this research will be used to launch UW's rural teacher corps.

According to Leslie Cook, head of professional learning at the Teton Science Schools and UW rural teacher corps project partner, "[The University of Wyoming’s rural teacher corps] is poised to have significant effects in Wyoming [by] encourag[ing] folks to go into teaching with financial incentives, with mentorship, with good support, [and] with communities that want teachers to come there and strong thriving schools."

The original news report can be found on Wyoming Public Media's website.

Special thanks to Dr. Kate Welsh, Alex Martin, and Kate Kniss with the University of Wyoming; Leslie Cook at Teton Science Schools, the anchor for our Northern Rockies Regional Hub; and Open Spaces with Wyoming Public Media.

RSC’s Catalyst Initiative is supported by an anonymous donor - to learn more about rural teacher preparation programs, check out the growing network of Rural Teacher Corps programs.

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