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Low-cost effort could help rural Alabama schools improve science, math

As Alabama ramps up efforts to build and add to its workforce, officials have renewed a focus on recruiting math and science teachers. But for one rural superintendent, something was always missing from those conversations.

“I was at the table, screaming, ‘We need equity!’” said Christopher Blair, superintendent of Bullock County Schools. “Then this idea generated, and I said, ‘I want it.’”

Blair’s referring to a new, $3 million effort backed by state legislators to boost math and science instruction in rural districts. This year, Bullock County will pilot a Rural Schools Accelerator, which aims to give math and science teachers in rural schools, who may not have been trained to teach those subjects, additional support so their students can succeed.

“What makes this monumental is that this is about Black Belt, rural school systems that, yes, have always demonstrated the problem, but didn’t just get thrown in to say, ‘Oh, well get your fair share of the pot,’” Blair said. “No, we’re going to give you more for the children that are hungry over here. They need more over here.”

In its pilot year, the project will partner virtual teachers with local instructors to provide additional, remote math and science instruction to seventh and eighth graders at South Highlands Middle School in Union Springs.

Officials say the effort -- which is one of few across the country to use a remote, hybrid teaching model to fill teaching voids -- is huge for Alabama.

Read more at AL.com.