When the White House recently celebrated the latest class of National Board Certified teachers, several of the honorees traveled to Washington from some of America’s most remote and distant rural communities to receive the teaching profession’s highest credential. During their visit, we caught up with these rural teachers to hear their stories about what it’s like to teach in rural America.
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These rural teachers describe challenges with funding, a lack of technology, and the need to elevate the teaching profession while expanding curriculum in order to prepare students for a 21st century economy.
Jenny Lovering, a history teacher at Columbia Falls High School in Montana near the Canadian border, addressed the “brain drain” that challenges many rural areas. Her goal is to prepare students for college and careers, so they are equipped to compete, return and rebuild their community. “I want to be able to help them to get to the places where they want to go, so they can come back. I want them to be able to bring in new industries and new ideas to revitalize this area that they love,” she said.
While in the nation’s capital, the new NBC teachers attended a White House forum held to recognize the importance of the teaching profession. Teachers shared their thoughts on their profession and how the Administration can help support educators to ensure that every student receives high-quality instruction. In addition to the forum, senior officials at the Department of Education engaged in a series of roundtables with the teachers to speak with them about strengthening the profession and to get their input on how to best develop teachers to become leaders in the classroom.
To keep the public informed about efforts to elevate the teaching profession, the Department has produced a “Plan to Reform Teacher Education.” Senior leaders in the Department continue to engage with teachers during school visits, at national and regional conferences, through new media like Twitter and Facebook, and through newsletters and the Web. We invite new ideas and more participants in this important conversation.
John White is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach