RSC is committed to sharing the stories of small school districts and innovative rural school partners, especially when those partnerships aim to create pathways for new rural teachers. Within our Ohio hub, Graham Local School District in Champaign County is working to create career opportunities in education for its 2,300 students by engaging with local higher education institutions in meaningful ways.
This year, Graham Local Schools, Urbana University, and Ohio Hi Point together created a program to allow students within the district who are interested in pursuing a career in education with the opportunity to earn credit from Urbana University. The tailored credit program helps enthusiastic students on their path to becoming a teacher. Students can then pursue a teacher-education degree at Urbana University, located just a dozen miles from Graham Local Schools. Hopefully, some of these students will return to Graham or other local districts in the region to bring their teaching talents back to Ohio's rural places.
"In Ohio, the College Credit Plus (CCP) program provides high school students meeting the admissions requirements of partner universities the opportunity to take classes that allow them to earn college credit," said Craig Meredith, Education Department Chair and Assistant Professor at Urbana University. "Rural students are able to take the courses through the delivery of university curriculum by credentialed high school teachers. In addition, students have the ability to take courses on campus at partner universities and pursue credit through online classes."
Urbana University provides a student-centered, quality education supported by a foundation in liberal arts, delivered by a committed faculty and staff emphasizing a comprehensive educational experience, tailored academic programs, critical reflection skills and mutual respect that prepares a diverse student population for fulfilling careers and responsible citizenship in a global society. Founded in 1974, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center is a two-year career-technical school district located in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
"We see the value of developing local students into high-quality educators so that the demand for teachers in rural districts can be met," said Meredith. "This partnership is still evolving, but it really supports our passion to see high quality educators prepared to take positions in rural districts like Graham."
Gary Funk, Rural Schools Collaborative director, believes these are the kinds of approaches that rural districts must develop in hopes of recruiting and placing talented teachers. "Regional and local collaborations will be essential in addressing rural teacher shortages. Urbana University's willingness to work with partners like Graham Local Schools is exemplary, and by sharing these stories we hope to encourage others to consider this kind of work."
We look forward to sharing more stories and personal perspectives about this innovative program and partnership.
The Rural Schools Collaborative is currently working with rural teacher corps efforts in Alabama, California, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. RSC has formulated a rationale for the establishment of regional rural teacher corps, and we invite you to learn more about our partners and their work.
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