A new scholarship established by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) will help area education students achieve their dream of becoming a teacher and provide trained educators to fill open positions in the area’s rural schools.
The Ozarks Teacher Corps Scholarship will be awarded for the first time in fall 2019 to eight students who are seeking a degree in teacher education, university officials said. In return, these students will agree to teach in a rural school district for three years following graduation.
“We are so excited to partner with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to establish this scholarship program for students interested in entering the field of education,” Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Shirley Lawler said.
“Many of our students are focused on obtaining a teaching degree, and they want to return to their hometowns to teach, which, in many cases, is a smaller, rural community,” she added. “We will develop a curriculum that focuses on a skill set specifically designed for the teacher who is employed in a rural school district.”
Part of the Rural Schools Partnership
The scholarship is being established as part of CFO’s Rural Schools Partnership program. Through the program, organizers hope to spearhead educational innovation and serve as catalysts for thoughtful rural renewal.
One of the ways this is accomplished is through the Ozarks Teacher Corps Program. The program was established in 2010 in conjunction with the CFO’s Rural Schools Partnership.
Students accepted into the program commit to returning to their hometown or a similar rural Ozarks community to teach for at least three years. Corps members receive an annual scholarship and participate in a wide range of seminars, where they learn about a variety of rural topics.
The overarching goal of the program is to develop teacher-leaders who will serve as catalysts for positive change.
The parameters of the scholarship for Missouri State-West Plains students follows these guidelines. Students who receive the scholarship agree to participate in all activities related to the Ozarks Teacher Corps Program and to teach for three years in a rural school district following graduation.
Teachers currently working in area rural school districts will be asked to serve as mentors for the scholarship recipients, giving them the opportunity to network with educators who have experienced the issues facing rural school teachers.
Recipients also will be given the opportunity to visit classrooms of former Ozarks Teacher Corps Program members who are currently teaching.
“The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Ozarks Teacher Corps are thrilled to establish a formal partnership with Missouri State-West Plains which will provide the Ozarks Teacher Corps Scholarship aimed at recruiting and retaining the finest teachers possible for the south-central region of Missouri,” said Julie Leeth, CFO education/schools liaison. “The scholarship will be a four-year award and is made possible through the generous bequest of Chesley and Flora Lea Wallis.”
To be eligible for the scholarship, students should be seeking a degree in teacher education. Preference will be given to students enrolled in the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree program. Students also must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester.
The scholarship can be renewed automatically each year for up to three years provided satisfactory progress is made and funds are available.
Eight $1,100 scholarships will be awarded beginning with the 2019 fall semester. Students can apply through the Missouri State-West Plains financial aid office or online at wp.missouristate.edu/finaid. The application deadline is March 1.
“We look forward to partnering with CFO to help build the Rural Teacher Corps, a program with a primary goal of supporting young educators as they return to the rural areas to begin their teaching careers,” Lawler said.
For more information about the scholarship, call the financial aid office at 417-255-7243 or visit the website.
For more information about CFO, the Rural Schools Partnership or the Ozarks Teacher Corp, visit the CFO website.