Catalina Salas, of Verona, is a new member of the Ozarks Teacher Corps scholarship program, which will provide a $4,000, two-year renewable scholarship ($8,000 total) in return for her commitment to teach in a rural district after her graduation from Missouri State University.

Salas, who is studying secondary education at MSU, was one of ten college students awarded scholarships in the new Ozarks Teacher Corps group recognized this spring at the Rural Schools Rendezvous in Springfield.

In return for the scholarships, which cover their junior and senior years, the students commit to teaching for at least three years in a rural school. The students also will serve as teacher interns and explore rural education issues as part of their studies.

“I would like to return to a rural school because I know these schools need teachers,” Salas said. “I have always wanted to work for a rural school, and would like to make a difference in my students' lives and guide them to success.”

The Ozarks Teacher Corps scholarships are made possible by the Chesley and Flora Lee Wallis Scholarship Fund, created by generous donors committed to ensuring advanced education for Ozarks students. The fund supports students involved in the Rural Schools Partnership, an initiative of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks dedicated to strengthening rural schools as anchors of their communities.

The Ozarks Teacher Corps was established in 2010 with its first group of recipients; since then, more than 90 percent of the students who began the program have been successfully placed as teachers in rural Ozarks school districts. The OTC students meet as a group four times a year for field experiences and training opportunities.