By Nathan Schroeder
I am Nathan Schroeder a current sophomore at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois where I am majoring in Secondary Education for Mathematics and I also play basketball for Monmouth College. I am from Watseka, Illinois, that has a population of around 5,500, and my hometown is the biggest town in about 30 minute radius. Having grown up in Watseka, rural communities have been a part of me for awhile, but it wasn’t until recently where I thought about becoming a teacher in a rural area. When I was in high school my high school basketball coach and math teacher left a lasting impact on me. His dedication to his students and his athletes was something that really stood out, but the classroom was only the beginning of how he impacted me. His dedication to the community as a whole is what specifically caught my eye, and how he was always striving to improve the community. His positive attitude and dedication to both the students and the people within the community are what made me strive to be a teacher and coach much like him.
When I stepped on Monmouth’s campus in August of 2017 to begin my freshman year of college I had a lot of question marks left to answer in my life. What kind of person will I become? What would I do following college? I thought I knew, but how would I know if that is truly what I want to do. Over these past two years Monmouth as a whole has grown me not only as a student, but as well as a person. Becoming a part of the TARTANS program at Monmouth has been a great group to be a part of, because the amount that I have learned already being a part of the group is amazing. Thinking about all the aspects of being rural, not just focusing on the rural school in the community. For a rural school to be successful a lot of it depends on the involvement of the community surrounding that, and the TARTANS program has opened my eyes to issues that other towns experience that I wasn’t experienced to in my hometown rural school.
Place-based education in rural schools seems like a logical step especially for rural schools that are so reliant with community involvement to succeed. Both in my hometown and in Monmouth, whether it be sporting team, club, or the classroom, teachers have to be active within the community. Using place-based education in rural communities allows for the students to get involved within the communities and learn skills that the students don’t learn in the classroom and that they need when entering the real world. Place-based education is a great opportunity for teachers to prepare their students for life following education.