Twenty-two school districts across seven counties in southern Missouri  — including several in Texas County — have come together to recruit new education talent. The newly launched, “Teach in the Ozarks” initiative is a one-of-a-kind effort spurred by yet another semester of school starting with open teaching positions.

Eric Allen, superintendent of Alton R-IV School District, explained that right now, about two dozen districts are all trading the same few teachers, and at the beginning of each school year, some of the districts are left with open spots. “So whether that’s us losing a great counselor, but getting a great math teacher, or vice versa, these kids are still the ones going without, and that’s just not sustainable,” he said.

The mission of the initiative is to bring awareness to their region as an attractive place to teach and live. Each year, there are dozens of teaching positions open across grade-level and subject matter. These smaller districts offer unique opportunities to explore a wide range of subject matter, and to experience a truly connected and invested community.

“If you are a teacher in one of these districts for just 2 or 3 years, you’ll know almost every employee in the district, and know all the families,” Allen said. “ You’ll make connections quickly, and have support from a very hands-on community of educators and parents.”

A look at the website that recruits teachers for the region.

Educators are afforded a close relationship with students; on average the ratio of students to teachers is 14:1. Relocation also offers a high quality of life at a low cost of living. The Ozark region’s cost of living is 23 percent lower than the U.S. average.

“We wanted a quiet, slower pace to our lives; we found it here. The Ozarks are beautiful, peaceful, and focused on relationships and community. My husband and I have been teaching over 20 years in a variety of locations: Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, and we love it here,” said Larissa Staton, fifth grade teacher at Alton.

Interested applicants can visit teachintheozarks.com to find out more about the initiative and find open positions.

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