Investing in a community
By choosing to teach in a small town, you have the unique ability to connect and build with the people in those communities.
Why get involved in rural education?
From the Animas River to Pawnee National Grassland, the Centennial State is blessed with natural landmarks that bring in new residents from around the country, and have its locals never wanting to call another place home.
Colorado’s small towns are made up of many hardworking, self-starters who appreciate the rare serenity found in the region. Many of Colorado’s school districts are designated as “rural” or “small rural,” meaning that they have student populations of 6,500 and 1,000 or less, respectively. While these schools are very common in our state, they're unique in their lower class sizes and staffing needs.
More than 130,000 Colorado students attend rural schools, according to the Colorado Rural Schools Alliance. In fact, 146 of the state’s 178 school districts (83%) are considered rural or small rural. These numbers, however, are contrasted by a statewide teacher shortage most pronounced in less populated areas, according to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).
To put it candidly, our state's rural students need more teachers.
As an educator in a rural school district, you get a unique opportunity to stand out in your career. In many cases, you'll be the only teacher of a particular subject area. This gives you a chance to innovate and trailblaze new ways to teach and design coursework. You'll also have support through initiatives like The Colorado Rural Collaborative and the Rural Cohort of National Board Certified Teachers, which allows you to connect with like-minded educators.
"I am the only teacher in my small rural school for my particular course...it was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of. We have very different day-to-day jobs, but could have some great conversations on how we impact our students and how we improve that."—Karl Remsen, National Board Certified Teacher
In addition to tight-knit communities and small classes, teachers in rural and small rural schools benefit from several free and low-cost professional development opportunities.
- Receive funds to continue your education and teach college level courses to high school students.
- Grow your skills while inspiring the next generation of teachers by becoming a Teacher Cadet instructor through a local community college.
- Pursue National Board certification and join a community of master educators through the Rural National Board cohort.
Join like-minded educators in the Rural National Board
"I want to do best for my students and for their families and our schools and communities, so I couldn't think of a better way to gain more knowledge than through this experience."—Colby Ricci, National Board Certified Teacher
Off the Beaten Path
The Teacher Cadet program aims to recruit and educate Colorado's high school students, giving them "insight into the nature of teaching, the problems of schooling, and the critical issues affecting the quality of education in America’s schools." This six-week, mini internship offers students college and, in some districts, high school credits. If you're interested in becoming a teacher, or just want to know more about educational philosophies, check out the Teacher Cadet program here.
High school and undergraduate students looking for a high-quality summer teaching experience should also consider applying to the Generation Teach Summer Teaching Fellowship here. Fellows receive daily coaching and support as well as a taxable scholarship and an Americorps Education Award for the seven week fellowship.
There are many resources and programs available to college undergraduates who want to go through an educator preparation program (EPP) to get a teaching license. Here are a few:
Teacher of Record Program: The hiring district/BOCES/charter school and the approved Colorado institution of higher education collaboratively create an individualized program for the individual to complete his/her EPP while employed as a teacher.
Grow Your Own Educator Grant: Same as the Teacher of Record program plus grant funding is offered for the candidate's tuition while they complete the remaining 36 (or less) hours of the approved EPP. Candidates are required to remain employed with the hiring district/BOCES/charter school for three years after completion of the program to get this grant.
Colorado Rural Teaching Fellowship: This $10,000 stipend is available to selected candidates who complete a year-long clinical experience in a rural school district during the final year of their EPP.
- Concurrent Enrollment Educator Qualification: This $6,000 stipend is available for completion of an approved EPP while enrolled in college. The recipient will receive half the stipend at the start of the program and the remaining half after successfully completing the first year of the plan of study.
"At first, I was overwhelmed by the different requirements to become a teacher. Once I finally found this pathway, I knew I would have a classroom of my own."—Adam Waters, Teacher
For those who've already graduated college with at least a bachelor's degree, you can pursue an alternative teaching program and stipend.
- Alternative Teacher License: This pathway to teaching allows college grads with knowledge in specific subject areas to get a teaching position first, and then enroll in an approved alternative licensure program while they gain experience on the job.
- Rural Alternative Licensure Stipend: This stipend provides recipients with up to $6,000 to pay for a variety of program-related costs.
Educators are in high demand in rural and small rural schools. To address this need, the state passed the SB-19 bill, which adds several financ
ial incentives that are hard to ignore.
- Rural Alternative Licensure Stipend: The Rural Alternative Licensure Stipend (RALS) provides recipients with up to $6,000 to pay for a variety of program-related costs (e.g., Alternative Licensure program-, PRAXIS-, Alternative License-, Initial License-, technology- and travel-related costs).
- Colorado Rural Teaching Stipend: The value of the stipend is up to $4,000 for the semester of student teaching. Stipend recipients are expected to complete student teaching in a Colorado rural school district and then apply to and work in a rural school district.
- The Colorado Educator Loan Forgiveness Program offers loan repayment assistance for teachers, mainly for those who teach in rural and hard-to-fill positions in Colorado. If you qualify, you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness annually, for up to five years. The electronic application for the first round of awards opened on December 15, 2021.
TEACH Colorado coaches are licensed teachers. They blazed their own trails to the classroom, and can help you determine the best path for you based on where you are now and where you want to be.
A coach can walk you through what it takes to become a teacher. You can ask:
- How do I get licensed?
- What subjects/grades can I get licensed in?
- Which educator preparation program is right for me?
- Anything else you want to know!
Get custom advice for your situation, so you can take the next step in your journey with confidence. To schedule a free one-on-one call with a coach, click here.
Find the right school district for you!
According to the Colorado Department of Education, there are 146 rural and small rural school districts that are in constant need of teachers. The button below will take you to list of all the rural and small rural school districts in Colorado. You can also visit the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium for more info on working in our state's rural communities.