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Austin Peay State University’s Center for Rural Education helps rural teachers prepare for new school year

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – This school year, new teachers in a few rural Tennessee counties received a needed boost before their first week of classes, thanks to the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Center for Rural Education.

Austin Peay State University Center for Rural Education
Austin Peay State University Center for Rural Education

That’s because, in late July, the center conducted three GoTags – Getting Off To A Good Start – workshops for 90 regional, K-12 rural teachers at sites in their home counties.

“These are workshops that help new teachers with their first week of school,” Dr. Cheryl Lambert, chair of the APSU Department of Teaching and Learning and the center’s coordinator, said. “It was just full of classroom management tips, organizing your classroom tips, information about how to build student communities. We provided workbooks for all these teachers.”

Teachers from Houston County, Humphries County, and Cheatham County attended the GoTags workshops, developed by retired Vanderbilt University Professor Alene Harris, where they learned strategies for addressing student anxieties and communicating with parents. Dr. Bobette Bouton, APSU associate professor of education and trained GoTags presenter, conducted the workshops with Dr. Lambert facilitating communication and logistics with the rural district leaders.

In 2018, Austin Peay State University’s Eriksson College of Education opened the center to serve rural Tennessee school districts that experience, according to the center, “higher per-pupil costs, higher poverty rates, population decline, hard-to-staff positions with high teacher turnover, geographic isolation, and resistance to innovation.”

In 2019, the Center hosted a special, two-day STEM workshop for rural educators, and last year, it used external grant funding to develop its Rural Scholars Program. That program provides APSU junior and senior teaching candidates with support to complete their education degrees. These scholars then have the opportunity to commit to a teaching contract with a rural district. 

“The GoTags workshops support our mission and vision for the center to support the professional development growth of rural teachers,” Lambert said. “It’s hard for rural districts sometimes to provide funding for their teachers to attend professional development, so the College of Education provided funding allowing us to go to them this year.”

For information on the new APSU Center for Rural Education, visit http://www.apsu.edu/education/ruraled.

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