Missouri Ozarks

Our Missouri Ozarks Hub hosts are the Rural Schools Partnership & Ozarks Teacher Corps, programs of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

The Rural Schools Collaborative and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks' Rural Schools Partnership continue to collaborate on building strong rural school communities. Beth Hersh, Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) Director of Scholarships, coordinates the Collaborative's rural initiatives in the Missouri Ozarks region.

The CFO's Rural Schools Partnership was established in 2009, and it serves more than 50 counties in Missouri's southern tier. The Rural Schools Partnership includes the following exemplary efforts, which have informed the Rural Schools Collaborative's ongoing conversation on how to strengthen the bonds between rural schools and their respective communities:

  1. Ozarks Teacher Corps
    An endowed program that supports the development of teacher-leaders for rural Ozarks school districts. Built on working partnerships with Missouri State University--West Plains and Drury University, the Ozarks Teacher Corps has a placement/retention rate of 93%. In the spring of 2019 an extensive report was released on the impact of the Ozarks Teacher Corps.
  2. Coover Regional Place-based Grants Program
    Since its inception this effort has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to exemplary place-based education efforts throughout the region. This is the flagship program of the Rural Schools Collaborative's Grants in Place program.
  3. School Foundation Building
    The Rural Schools Partnership works with more than 70 rural school foundations and has created more than $27 million in permanent rural education assets.
  4. Place Network: Glenwood R-VIII is a member of the Place Network, a national network of small and rural schools, operated by Teton Science Schools out of Jackson, Wyoming, that are committed to place-based instruction.

Gary Funk, Strategic Advisor for Rural Schools Collaborative, spoke of Julie Leeth, a founding RSC board member, on behalf of her role and others in guiding the organization to where it is today - now led through Holly Beadle. "There would be no Rural Schools Collaborative without Julie Leeth, Carol Silvey, the Rural Schools Partnership, and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Their willingness to freely share their ideas and successes have meant so much to other organizations and efforts across the nation." Funk went on to add, "The relationship is really special this year, as our 2020-21 board chair, Carol Silvey, hails from West Plains." RSC is immensely grateful for the work that Julie did over the years to help our organization, and we wish her all the best in retirement. Thanks, Julie!

CFO's Rural Schools Partnership

Opportunity Rural: Event Presents Study on Impact of Ozarks Teacher Corps

Good things are happening down in the hills of the Ozarks. A new path to rural renewal is being charted by a foundation, a university, rural school districts, and small communities. This collaborative approach was in plain view during the 2019 Rural Schools Partnership Forum held at Missouri State University-West Plains.

Sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the two-day session brought together school district leaders, local school foundations, higher education personnel, and the Ozarks Teacher Corps. Work with the latter focused on the value of place-based education, and it was facilitated by presenters from Teton Science Schools.

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