A National Community of Good Work: The 2022 Rural Teacher Corps Forum

RSC Convenes Rural Teacher Corps Partners to Learn and Celebrate Together

May 3, 2022 |

Special thanks to Susan Hester, Haley Richardson, and Danielle Worrell from the University of West Alabama, Tammy La Prad and Michelle Holschuh-Simmons from Monmouth College, and Christopher Beckham from Morehead State University for graciously providing your time and stories to make this forum possible! Thank you as well to the many partners and friends that come together for this event. We hope to see you all next year!

Striving to advance the development of teacher preparation programs with a dedicated rural focus, Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC) convened a Rural Teacher Corps Forum, attended by longtime partners and new friends alike. The goal of this event was for peers in the field of teacher preparation to meet, hear from a panel of three distinct teacher corps efforts, and work together through questions and discussion to promote this innovative model of teacher instruction.

TARTANS 2022 Scholars Day
TARTANS 2022 Scholars Day

The recruitment, preparation, and retention of visionary teacher-leaders is central to Rural Schools Collaborative’s mission of building sustainable rural communities through a keen focus on place, teachers, and community. Since its founding in 2015, RSC has advocated for the creation of career pathways in higher education that intentionally train future rural educators. Termed a “Rural Teacher Corps” (RTC), some of RSC’s earliest philanthropic and collaborative projects were to seed these new preparation efforts based on a working model developed in cooperation with a national network of thought partners.

“I was able to get a step ahead with place-based education. We're able to teach our students how to embrace the opportunity that a small town has. And, now I work at a school that is partnered with Teton Science Schools. We've grown as a community by just getting out with the students and show students how valuable our place is.”

Since those early roots, Rural Schools Collaborative has persisted in its programmatic mission of establishing new RTC efforts and spotlighting the exemplary work of many other rural teacher preparation programs around the country. This growing network of like-minded peers, all striving to transform the rural education ecosystem, became a national learning community, which collectively sought to promote the concept of rural teacher preparation. Currently, 17 programs from 11 different states, representing 10 RSC Hub Partner regions, are highlighted as a part of this growing community.

Appalachian Future Educators
Appalachian Future Educators

Hoping to provide more opportunities for these efforts to work and learn together, Rural Schools Collaborative revived a tradition of national-level meetings on rural teacher preparation and hosted the 2022 Rural Teacher Corps Forum. The event welcomed over 40 attendees from all around the nation, representing a diverse cross-section of public and private, large and small higher education institutions as well as community foundations and nonprofit organizations.

“The voices of your corps are your strongest voices ... When we give them support and we give them a voice they do a fantastic job of lifting up rural schools and community.”

Black Belt Teacher Corps
Black Belt Teacher Corps

Attendees heard a panel presentation from three significantly different teacher corps programs: The Black Belt Teacher Corps at the University of West Alabama, the TARTANS Rural Teacher Corps from Monmouth College, and the new Appalachian Future Educators Scholarship Program from Morehead State University. These three efforts offered the audience the chance to understand how the basic teacher corps concept manifests across different contexts. Afterwards, the panel engaged with Forum participants in a lengthy question and discussion session around the inner workings and daily joys of running a Rural Teacher Corps.

To learn more about the Forum, please watch the video below. Be sure to check out our Rural Teacher Corps tab to read more about why these efforts are needed, recommendations for starting or developing your own corps, and a directory of the Rural Teacher Corps network.

Watch the Live Forum

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