Our mission is to bring high-quality educators to the deserving students of the Ozarks region of Southern Missouri.
Twenty-two districts from seven counties across Southern Missouri have come together to launch Teach in the Ozarks, a one-of-a-kind initiative to bring new talent to the students of our region. We are not interested in competing against each other for qualified candidates, but rather seek to widen our talent pool to serve all of our students equitably.
Students in the Ozarks deserve a high quality education from certified, passionate educators.The communities of the Teach in the Ozarks Collective are warm and welcoming places that want to foster high quality education and will invest in those who come to provide that education. The Ozarks is one of the nations most beautiful regions that offers a low cost of living and a high quality of life, and living and working in these communities will be a unique and enriching opportunity.
Make a bigger impact on your students in small, caring communities.
Why The Ozarks?
There is so much to do in...
The Great Outdoors
The rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains offer some of the best outdoor recreations in all of the Midwest.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways and the Mark Twain National Forest have naturally beautiful areas surrounded by springs, lakes, and rivers allowing plenty of recreational opportunities.
Residents in the Ozarks are kind and hospitable, and community members continually band together to help one another in times of need. When a community has devastation or tragedy, the people always pull together and hold benefits to support families that are hurting or struggling.
Ozark communities are also very good at supporting school districts and school programs and take pride in hometown values. Many towns in the Ozarks are reminiscent of simpler times.
So much to do in..
The cost of living in the Ozarks averages 23% lower than the national average. Real estate is lower than metropolitan areas, even with acreage or small hobby farms.
The size of towns varies throughout the Ozarks but many contain specialty shops, restaurants, and special eventing include festivals, concerts, fairs and carnivals. Residents support locally owned businesses to keep their communities thriving. Towns in the Ozarks enjoy a low crime rate and variety of community support organizations.
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You'll Love It!
“As a teacher, I feel blessed to be part of the Summersville School District! Our administration is very supportive and allows us to make this a fun place to learn. Our buildings are attractive inside and out. Our janitors keep the buildings neat, clean, and tidy; and the teachers and kiddos are expected to do the same. If we need something, we ask and usually get all the supplies to make learning enjoyable. We are blessed with technology as each student K-12 has their own laptop, and every room is equipped with Promethean Boards. This is a wonderful place to work and thrive.”
– Brenda Atchison
3rd Grade Teacher, Summersville R-2
“I have taught in the Ozarks at Mountain View-Birch Tree for five years, and I just made the switch this year to a counselor position in Summersville, Missouri. Teaching in the Ozarks is nothing short of a blessing. Our rural area provides opportunities for career change and growth. Our small district size creates a sense of a family-like atmosphere. Teachers and staff feel respected and valued. Even as a new staff member in a community where I knew little to no one, I was accepted with open arms from day one. Classrooms are more conducive to learning due to the smaller number of students and ease for teachers to build unique relationships with every student. Our small communities depend on the success of our school so are in turn very active and supportive. As a small district, educational decisions can be made to increase morale, like implementing a four-day week or changing the schedule to provide breaks chosen by staff. I feel it’s necessary to mention the pandemic because, unfortunately, it has negatively impacted the stigma around teaching. From my perspective, COVID has not had as much of an impact on the delivery and quality of education like it has in larger, more populated areas. We are able to make small changes to meet guidelines and still provide an education students deserve. Outside of school, there are a ton of places to sightsee, go hiking, or canoe. We have all of the small-town comforts like boutiques, town parades, seasonal events, and more. We also within driving distance of city attractions.”
– Shelly Renegar
High School Counselor, Summersville R-2
“My spouse and I love teaching here in Alton, MO. It’s a small town that is focused on family and community, and these ideals come through in so many ways. Teachers enjoy autonomy as well as small classes (many no larger than 17) per grade, even at the high school level. Resources are plentiful and Leadership is open to purchases for student and teacher support throughout the school year. Teachers will also enjoy parent and leadership support for their classroom and teaching in ways I have not experienced too often in my 20+ years of teaching in many other states. Discipline is managed quickly and decisively, parents support the teachers, leadership recognizes teachers as classroom experts, and students generally come to school expected to behave and ready to learn. It’s refreshing after so many years of “fighting to teach” due to so many obstacles associated with more urban environments.
The community is small but welcoming and kind. Alton has a few stores, notably grocery, gas station, clothing and merchandise, florist, several hair salons and feed stores (we are a farming community after all), a couple of small restaurants, auto repair, several churches, and a hardware store. However, we are 20 minutes from Thayer and 40 minutes from West Plains where there is more shopping and more of what larger towns often provide. We are active here whether it’s working on the land, fishing and floating down the Eleven Point River, or meeting friends downtown for coffee. Alton is a wonderful place to live and exactly what we wanted for ourselves.
We wanted a quiet, slower pace to our lives; we found it here. The Ozarks are beautiful, peaceful, and focused on relationships and community. My husband and I have been teaching over 20 years in a variety of locations: Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, and we love it here! Alton and the Ozarks are the small town environment where we would have raised our family if we had one, but our children are grown now. Kids play outside, families stay connected, and there is a history here based on communities supporting each other that continues.”
– Larissa Staton
5th Grade Teacher, Alton R-IV Schools
“Let’s begin by painting a picture. Clear your mind. Now think “middle of nowhere”. Farms, a bit hilly, Wal-mart and Dollar General make up “town” and town is at least a twenty minute drive. The running track for students is a hay field out back with a mile long path kept cut low and there are around 250 students in your PK-8 school. This is the framework for painting a picture of my teaching in the Ozarks experience. Our rural school is a family. We take care of and look out for one another. I look forward to working with the best of the best each day, and my team and I have a spectacular connection. One thing I appreciate most in my time as a Glenwood educator is supportive administration. My team and I have started implementing innovative place-based teaching methods that allow our students to create unique solutions to problems that benefit our community and draw our students to learn outside of the classroom. What an experience it has been! We are going beyond surface level understanding and textbooks to help our students gain valuable life skills and apply their learning. Additionally, administration has supported me in all of my personal professional development endeavors, as I have joined organizations, served on councils, and attended the most wonderful conferences. Education is a field that is dear to my heart, and teaching in the Ozarks has opened more doors for me than I ever thought possible.”
– Bridget Larsen
Math Teacher, Glenwood R-VIII School District
“I was born and raised in West Plains, MO. My family would spend every weekend at the lake or the river. My husband, Seth and I decided to stay in the area and have recently purchased 80 acers in Koshkonong, MO. We have one daughter, Roxie. We have shared that same love of living in the Ozarks with her. As a family, we love to hunt, fish, and kayak! It is amazing to live within minutes to beautiful spring fed rivers! We also raise German Shorthair Pointers and train them to hunt quail, pheasant, and chukar. So, no matter the time of the year, we have something that we can do outside as a family!
When we aren’t on the farm, we are a short hour and a half away from big city life. We are located in the middle of Jonesboro, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri. The opportunities are endless for food and shopping.
Working at Richards as one of their School Counselors has been a dream come true! I am one of the two School Counselors our school has available. Mrs. Gastineau and I work closely on providing the best care for our students, teachers, and families in our community. I also work with and for the best administration! They have an open line of communication and value our needs and suggestions for our school. I am able to work with some of the best people that have become more like family.
Morale is a big thing that our school holds highly. We have baby showers, wedding showers, holiday parties, and every month you can find delicious treats in the lounge! We also have the option to participate in being a “Secret Pal” to a coworker. Our school nurse, Nurse Jordan also puts together a “Biggest Loser Competition” to help with weight loss or overall health goals we might have! Once a month, our administration allows Nurse Jordan, Mrs. Gastineau and myself to get treats for the teachers. This might be popcorn and a soda or a candy bar and a soda. Just a little something to let the staff know they see us and they care about us!
I can honestly say our school does whatever is possible to provide the best education for our students. I am excited every single day to be able to get up and work with some of my very best friends!”
– Tiffanie Bryant
School Counselor/Psych. Examiner, Richards R-V School
“1. What I love most about working in the Ozarks is the amazing colleagues, families, and community members I get to engage with. Our small town community is close-knit, caring, and places high-value on education. Our school has a family atmosphere and because we are small, we know our students and thier families well which results in excellent opportunities for building lasting connections.
2. Our region is unique for the natural beauty that surrounds us and for our signature warm and friendly “Ozarks Hospitality.” After school hours we can enjoy spending time in nature at nearby Montauk State Park, Boiling Springs Piney River Access, the Ozarks National Scenic Riverways and the Current River, Mark Twain National Forest, and much more.
3. We are a close-knit, family atmosphere in our school community. Everyone cares about everyone and when we experience struggles we are there for each other and provide much encouragement and support. We also love to celebrate with each other and enjoy sharing joys together!
4. Over my teaching career, I’ve taught in 5 states. The Missouri Ozarks region is such a special place, not only because of the Ozarks Hospitality of our people, but also because of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us. Another major plus of living in the Ozarks is our low cost of living.”
– Telena Haneline
Instructional Coach (PK-6), Licking R-8 School District
“When the stresses of school get the best of me, there’s nothing that a short drive down Highway 76, through Mark Twain National Forest, can’t fix. There’s just something about the hills and rivers of the Ozarks that rejuvenates the soul. Home to the state’s best rivers to float and fish as well as trails to hike and camp, Southern Missouri has all the sights and scenes to satisfy your wanderlust. A lifetime of summer vacations wouldn’t be enough time to exhaust all there is to do and see here in the Ozarks. The small town, slower pace of life is a welcomed change to the busyness and bustle of school. Add up all these things and, for me, it equals home”.
– Brett Rawlings
Middle School Counselor, Houston R-I
“I hesitated to reveal the location of this wonderful place. Its beauty is unsurpassed with its tall oak forests, pristine rivers and picture-book communities. What we found here is an actual community with people who know you and care about your life, who love God and act like it, and who prize the values that make America a great nation. These qualities are what make a home and the curious novelty of the experience is exactly wheat my wife and I were longing for when we left the big city. The school is straight out of the 60’s – but with computers – and the kids are respectful, the parents are involved in a good way, and the staff are all parents of the basketball team players and work at the stores in town and the road crew and the school. I look forward to Mondays and break into a sheepish smile every day when I walk into our school.”
– Doug Staton
Special Education Teacher, Alton R-4
“My students are my reason. The will always be. We have the best community and district support system when it comes to being able to put our kiddos first. Our district is very supportive of meeting a child where they are at and helping them succeed in any aspect of life. Whether a child needs academic help or a pair of shoes. If the school doesn’t have something on hand that’s needed, we send it out to the community for help. It’s amazing to see, it’s like a giant family working together. The Ozarks are unique in that communities help communities too. If one is hurting or needs help we feel it the next town over and rally. As a California girl myself, the Ozarks were a shock to me and a little scary. I can remember when I was in school and if someone came to school in dirty clothes or clothes that didn’t fit that’s just how it was. We have really reached a point where we realize “Hey the little things do matter and do affect the way kids learn.” We try to stay ready to meet those needs and make every day better. I am truly blessed to be a part of a district and community that works hand in hand to always help provide opportunities and meet any type of need to put KIDS FIRST.”
– Veronica Douglas
Kindergarten Teacher, Houston R-1 School
“Our rural community has always been eager to support the education and job training of our students. Living in the Ozarks provides the opportunity to experience a multitude of natural rivers and parks, but is close enough to major cities to enjoy the amenities they offer as well.”
– Randi Wilson
High School Science Teacher, Houston R-1 School District