Small towns get Paris-sized boost

A new endowment with a small town focus.

Bess Wells Paris
Bess Wells Paris

Published on Show Me Mizzou Sept. 4, 2023

Education students who land a teaching position in rural Missouri may get a boost from a new endowment from the College of Education and Human Development. The Bess Wells Paris Education Endowment, established in 2022, makes it easier and less costly for undergraduates to student teach in small towns. 

The endowment addresses two pressing issues: School districts in small towns have a difficult time competing for new teachers against larger districts, and college students who would like to teach in a small town face challenges affording incidental expenses while student teaching (see “Revolutionizing Rural Education”). In Missouri, attracting student teachers to rural communities is especially critical, as fully one-third of Missourians live and work in small towns.

“We value our partnership with rural communities and districts and believe these settings provide unique learning opportunities for our students,” says Kim Nuetzmann, director of clinical experiences and partnerships for the college.

Costs associated with qualifying for a teaching certificate can mount up, especially for undergrads who student teach in small towns. Facing higher transportation costs, they also may have a tougher time finding a convenient place to rent than their peers who opted for larger cities. Like all prospective teachers, they also have precertification expenses, such as required background checks, state assessments and fingerprinting. The Paris endowment funds can be used for these associated expenses, providing up to $200 each for eight to 10 students per year, with preference given to students from rural districts. 

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