There are less teachers to choose from for local school districts, which is contributing to the teacher shortage across the state of Illinois.
Fewer college students are majoring in education. At Western Illinois University, Assistant Dean of Education Greg Montalvo said they may never get back to the nearly 300 graduates they had 5 years ago. But, they have started a scholarship program call the Great River Teacher Corps.
Montalvo said they are currently looking for donors to fund 20 scholarships that would go to rural students interested in teaching.
"That’s another way, scholarship funds, so that we can help kids not have to have this high debt when they leave," Montalvo added. "We believe that the best way to improve the economic viability of the community is to get bright kids from those communities to go back to those communities after they finish college."
Montalvo said scholarship programs and loan forgiveness programs are essential to attracting students into the teaching field. He expects to have the rural teacher corps program to be available in the fall of 2018.