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OTC students among first in Ozarks Teacher Corps

By Steve Koehler

Three Ozarks Technical Community College students are part of the 18-member inaugural class of the Ozarks Teacher Corps, who will receive scholarships to become teachers with a special destination when they graduate.

As recipients, the students commit to teaching in a rural school district for at least three years after graduation.

The scholarships are being funded by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks through its $1.7 million Chesley and Flora Lee Wallis Scholarship Fund.

The three OTC recipients are Mykie Nash, an elementary education major from Nixa, Nikki Matney, working to be a high-school math instructor from Willard and Rachael Buck, an elementary education major from Monett.

“Growing up in a small community created the kind of childhood that I cherished; and as a mother of two young children, my hope is that I am able to provide my kids with the same small town neighborhood experience,” Nash said.

The Ozarks Teacher Corps is designed to recruit, prepare and retain outstanding teachers for rural communities.

“The corps will develop a cadre of talented teaching candidates who will explore rural education issues, serve as teacher interns in small schools and commit to teaching in their respective home communities for at least three years,” said Julie Leeth, CFO Executive Vice President.

Over time, organizers said they hope the Ozarks Teacher Corps will develop a growing network of educator-activists who recognize the importance of rural education to a sustainable American society. 

 Sophomore-level students at OTC, Missouri State, Drury, Baptist Bible College and Evangel, are eligible for the scholarship. Part of the application process includes having candidates write an essay on the value of rural schools and be recommended for the corps by their school administrators.

Upon selection, the participants receive a $4,000 per year scholarship.

“Rural schools need to teach students the benefits of living in their community. It is an amazing feeling to shop in a local store and feel like the purchase being made is helping the store stay in business,” Matney said.

Information on the 2011 program will be available after Jan. 1, 2011. To read about the program, go to

 Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at


College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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