UW seeking solutions to rural teacher shortages

WYOMING – An associate professor in the University of Wyoming’s School of Teacher Education is exploring the establishment of a rural teacher corps in Wyoming.

Kate Welsh was awarded a grant from the Rural Schools Collaborative to look into the endeavor with the goal of keeping ambitious Wyomingites in state while simultaneously combating a teacher shortage.

Rural areas have suffered as budgets dwindle and people migrate away. Local schools are cornerstones of institutional infrastructure for small communities, yet they can suffer to attract highly qualified and motivated teachers to lead classrooms. This has been experienced in Sublette County with shortages of teachers and bus drivers.

A rural teacher corps could strengthen schools and attract young professionals to remote communities in Wyoming.

“A rural teaching corps is a support and scholarship program for pre-service teachers. Its goal will be to prepare teachers for rural settings and have them commit to rural teaching positions,” Welsh said. “A rural teaching corps will ensure that pre-service teachers know UW’s programs will provide them with excellent opportunities to become rural educators. These programs have proven effective around the country in recruiting and placing teachers in rural contexts.”

The University of Wyoming received a $25,000 planning grant from Rural Schools Collaborative’s Catalyst Grants Initiative to support the program’s development as part of the RSC Northern Rockies Regional Hub.

Welsh is the co-director of the project along with Leslie Cook, the senior director of educator development at Teton Science Schools in Jackson. They are supported by UW graduate student Alex Martin, a native of Richland, Wash.