Ds Scholarship

Teacher recruitment scholarship program expands to MSSU

Feb. 26—The Ozarks Teacher Corps, a Community Foundation of the Ozarks program designed to recruit new teachers to rural school districts, has expanded to Missouri Southern State University.

The program will begin accepting applications from teacher education students at Missouri Southern and also Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. Previously, the program was only available to students at Missouri State University and Drury University in Springfield.

The program provides $2,000 per year for up to two years if students commit to teaching in a rural school district for three years following graduation. Participating students also will receive special training on topics such as place-based education and the needs of rural students, and they will join a network of Ozarks Teacher Corps alumni and other rural education advocates.

Missouri Southern was selected as a partner to the program because of its “strong” teacher education department and its location in the southern part of the state, said Aaron Scott, director of communications and marketing for the foundation.

“Knowing that students that come from hometowns close to Joplin are likely to select Missouri Southern for their higher education, it made a lot of sense to work with their education department to recruit future teachers,” Scott said.

Scott said rural school districts can face challenges that larger districts don’t. For example, rural districts often can’t pay their teachers as much as larger ones, he said.

“By providing some incentive and some of the special professional development, we hope that gives future teachers the incentive to teach in a rural school district,” he said.

Since its inception in 2010, the Ozarks Teacher Corps has awarded more than $800,000 in scholarships and placed more than 60 teachers in rural schools across central and southern Missouri, the Springfield-based foundation said.

According to a 2019 report by the Rural Schools Collaborative, 92% of Ozarks Teacher Corps participants successfully complete their three-year commitments, and most are still teaching in the districts that originally hired them. About 60% teach in a district within 30 miles of their hometown, according to the report.

To apply for an Ozarks Teacher Corps scholarship, go to cfozarks.org/scholarships.

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