RSC and NREA are excited to be able to continue sharing the stories of rural teachers from across the United States as part of our I Am A Rural Teacher collaboration, made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rural schools around the world have more in common than one might expect, regardless of their latitude and longitude. In particular, teacher shortages continue to heavily impact rural communities, and several organizations have made the decision to act and find and retain exemplary talent for rural schools. Lola had always been interested in teaching, and most of her experiences were in urban or suburban settings, but she explains that her education journey led her specifically to a rural place.
Lola: So, I always attended an urban school during my first internship, while I was studying. I did my junior year of college in the US and I stayed in school there in another urban school. So, when I saw this little Facebook advertisement saying that I could be a rural teacher for a couple of months and learn from a different school, I believed that it was my duty to take part in that experience and grasp bits of different schools and different children and different teachers because I believed that that could make me a better teacher for those students and also the students I will have for the rest of my career as a teacher.
In the collaborative environment of a rural place, students are able to effectively build community with one another. Lola explains how this is both an asset to the community and a challenge when it comes to expanding learning opportunities.
Lola: It's hard for them to look farther than the town. We don't want them to leave, but we want them to realize that there is more outside the town and there are more things that they can do, and they can explore and be different, and really follow their passions. Showing them that they have other opportunities outside what they see in the town is hard, but it's also good that they - that the place where they live, the town - is really small. It's a 400-inhabitant town, so there's a really familiar setting between children, educators, parents, community members. You're all part of a big family, and that's helpful for the children because there is a closer relationship between families, and everything is smoother. Some parents came to the same school and had the same teachers as their kids. So, there's trust love and and respect for each other.
We appreciate the willingness of teachers like Lola to share their stories and experiences with us and hope these stories bring some inspiration to your day! If you would like to share 30 minutes of your time for an interview, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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