Learning by Example

Nationwide, 20 percent of new teachers leave the classroom within three years, according to the National Education Association. This creates a problem especially in rural areas, where retaining teachers is a challenge, but attracting teachers can be difficult as well.
New teachers often lack support and camaraderie when they move to an isolated community. Many times new teachers get positions that veteran teachers don’t want, in a town where they do not know anyone. It doesn’t take long until the teachers get discouraged and leave.
In an attempt to keep teachers in their communities, several South Carolina school officials decided to take a proactive approach. One plan involves restoring a large house that would accommodate 12 teachers. Rent would only be $100/month and the house would provide a support group and friends.
Another community will provide rent-free apartments for new teachers and the opportunity to earn their graduate degree for free as well.
These ideas focus on recruiting a group of individuals to work together and support each other. Not only is housing being provided in areas where housing is hard to find, but also replacing the feeling of isolation with a feeling of community and belonging.
It is too soon to know what the success rate of these housing incentives will be, but a lesson can be learned from these communities. They are being aggressive and searching out ways to fix the problem. Other rural communities would be wise to follow their example.

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