Scholarship Program Increases Teachers Needed in Rural Districts

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NIXA, Mo. — As the population in area small towns decreases, the need for qualified teachers increases. A scholarship program is trying to help with both.  
 
“It’s really easy when you grow up in a small town to get this mindset of I’ve got to break free and if I’m going to be successful I’ve got to go somewhere bigger,” said Hannah Ramsey.
 
Not Ramsey though who grew up in Mountain Grove and says small town success is possible. 
 
“It just might look different and it really just depends on what are you supposed to do,” Ramsey said. 
 
For Ramsey it’s teaching. 
 
“I really fell in love with the idea that as a teacher you’re constantly trying to make yourself unnecessary,” she said. 
 
But educators like Ramsey are necessary for rural areas to thrive said the executive director of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Julie Leeth. 
 
“In these rural communities, if the schools are strong the community is probably strong as well,” Leeth said. 
 
That’s why the Ozarks Teacher Corps aims to increase the number of teachers in rural areas bygiving scholarships to college students from small towns if they teach in a rural district after graduating. 
 
The incentive for many Leeth said is the $8,000 in scholarship money. 
 
“Which totally was a game-changer for me,” Ramsey said even though she was already sold on teaching in a small town, which she’ll soon be doing full-time at Branson elementary school. Once there she said she’ll look forward to what she says are rural qualities.  
 
“Sometimes there’s things in a rural community that you wouldn’t be able to do in an urban community like for example the garden.  
 
As well as having a smaller class and stronger sense of community. 
 
“There is this connection between school and community, community members and school,” she said that the program taught her how to utilize as a teacher. 
 
So far about 75 students have participated in the Ozarks Teacher Corps program. 

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