The Ozarks Teacher Corps was launched in 2010 by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO), and in just six years the program has racked up a number of impressive accomplishments. Established as part of CFO's Rural Schools Partnership, the Ozarks Teacher Corps is dedicated to the recruitment, preparation and placement of outstanding rural teacher-leaders. The program includes teacher education students from Missouri State University, Missouri State University--West Plains, Drury University and Evangel University.
Dr. Julie Leeth, executive vice-president for CFO, coordinates the Ozarks Teacher Corps, and she credits the program's success to good cooperation from higher education and local school systems. However, Leeth is quick to add that it is the students themselves who have really made the program work. "We have all been so impressed by the dedication and commitment of our Teacher Corps members. There is no doubt in my mind that their enthusiasm for teaching and their love of the rural Ozarks are why we have had such an outstanding placement rate."
Here are some highlights of the Ozarks Teacher Corps:
- Ozarks Teacher Corps members enter the program after the sophomore year, and they receive an annual scholarship of $4,000 for their junior and senior years.
- Members commit to teaching at least three years in a rural Ozarks school, and they agree to attend Ozarks Teacher Corps seminars on place-based education, rural philanthropy and community development. They also have selected readings in addition to their college coursework.
- More than 80 future teachers have participated in the program, which has a tremendous placement rate of 95%.
- The program is supported the $1.6 milliion Chesley and Flora Lee Wallis Scholarship Fund, which is managed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
Leeth said the program has three major goals in its immediate future:
- working with Missouri State University on an Hispanic Recruitment Initiative, which began this year with two new students;
- stronger alignment with the new Rural Schools Collaborative hub that will open in the Missouri Ozarks;
- and developing a greater emphasis on linking this with professional development efforts with regional teachers.
If you would like to learn more about the Rural Teacher Corps initiative, we invite you join us for a free webinar that will be hosted by the Rural Schools Collaborative on Thursday, April 27th at 10 AM Central. For information on how to register click here.
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