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K-State Today

October 14, 2021

Rural Education Center forms new group focusing on rural educators

Submitted by Sarah Harper

The Rural Education Center of Kansas State University's College of Education has begun a new organization designed to support future rural educators. Education Advocates Supporting Teachers in Rural Areas, ED ASTRA, or Teaching Stars, is a takeoff of the Kansas state motto.

This is a new group focused on students interested in teaching in rural areas. ED ASTRA encourages students, especially rural students, to complete the K-State College of Education's teacher preparation program with the goal of returning to their home district or a rural area to teach. Besides building a community of rural-focused future teachers, part of the members' responsibilities would involve visiting rural schools to promote teaching as a career.

"Partnering with rural schools and communities is a foundational part of our mission," said Debbie Mercer, the dean of the College of Education. "By doing so, rural communities will become more sustainable and continue to grow in capacity and knowledge. With ED ASTRA, we want to help those future rural educators be prepared for their careers in rural communities."

The group's initial meeting on Sept. 30 featured Matt Weller, principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Clay County USD 379. Weller, a graduate of K-State's College of Education, discussed the value of teaching in a rural district, as well as his journey into administration. Weller was also instrumental in the college's beginning efforts regarding telepresence in education. Mercer and Assistant Dean Todd Goodson welcomed students to the meeting, which was organized by Diane Beets, program coordinator for the Rural Education Center, and Terrence Spurlin, center intern.

The organization will be forming a student advisory panel that will provide leadership opportunities in helping shape additional goals and objectives of the organization, such as professional development, leadership and service.

"We are so excited about this organization beginning at K-State's College of Education," said Lori Goodson, assistant professor and assistant director of the Rural Education Center. "As a graduate of a 1A school in rural Missouri, I personally know the impact rural teachers can have on their students. We want this group to help prepare future great teachers for rural areas."

For more information about ED ASTRA, contact Diane Beets at dmhess@k-state.edu or Lori Goodson at lagoodson@k-state.edu.