[Editor’s note: Today’s stories take a two-pronged look at rural brain drain. This story examines the issue from an educator’s perspective. Look at the issue from the tech community’s perspective here.]

More than 30 years ago, the Department of Justice researched and concluded that stronger families and communities create successful school environments. Fast forward to the present day, the importance of that link between the community and school is still vital for student success. There’s a give and take relationship with the education system and its community, meaning higher standards and stronger school systems encourage the community outside of the school to succeed as well.

With this in mind, a common problem in rural area schools is bridging that gap between school books and real-world experiences – particularly when it comes to STEM. With STEM fields expanding, it’s important to show students in rural communities how they can learn to be innovators and problem solvers for this generation.

Related content: STEM learning invigorates classrooms

In a small town, it doesn’t take much to help foster a child’s dreams and ambitions. It starts with a local business owner hosting a career fair, an optometrist judging a science fair, or a published author reading in their former classroom. With a community in tow, we need to cultivate their imagination and explore all possibilities by preparing them for the workforce, especially in the areas of STEM.

About the Author:

Maureen Pollitz has taught gifted education for nineteen years at Nicholson Elementary in Piscayune, Mississippi. As an advocate of STEM education, Maureen served as the first Robotics sponsor at her school for 11 years and lead the charge in creating an outdoor classroom, consisting of a fossil, herb, and vegetable garden for her students. In 2015, Maureen lead her sixth-grade students to become one of the five national winners of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. As a result of her STEM Education accomplishments, Pollitz was invited by Samsung to join the program’s inaugural cohort of Teacher Advisors.