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Howard Payne University works to serve needs of rural Texas schools

BROWNWOOD – August 2, 2022 – Howard Payne University’s School of Education and School of Music and Fine Arts are taking steps to help fulfill needs of rural schools in Texas. The School of Education’s focus is to provide highly qualified teachers, while the School of Music and Fine Arts provides a wide range of academic resources to school music programs.

HPU’s School of Education was recently commended by the State Board of Education Certification for exemplary performance in preparing and supporting teachers who are employed in rural schools. HPU’s Educator Preparation is one of only four other programs to receive the commendation.

“This commendation highlights the fact that HPU is making a significant contribution to Brown County by providing strong, effective teachers to our local schools in an era when there is a substantial shortage of teachers,” said Dr. Kylah Clark-Goff, dean of the School of Education. “A considerable number of HPU Educator Preparation graduates from all over Texas stay and teach in Brown County. These teachers are equipped to be especially effective in the classroom because of the quality of education and field-based experiences they are receiving during their undergraduate experiences at HPU.”

HPU’s School of Education partners with local schools in Brown County, where students get hands-on experience at every level of their preparation. In their first semester in the program, students begin assisting teachers and tutoring small groups and individuals. HPU students progress in their knowledge and skills until their last semester of college when they are in local schools all day, every day. Because of this interaction between HPU students and local schools, many of the students stay and teach in Brown County after graduation.

“With such a significant demand for teachers across Texas,” said Dr. Clark-Goff, “the fact that HPU prepares teachers who want to stay in Brown County and are equipped and experienced in effectively meeting the unique needs and characteristics of students in rural areas is priceless!”

The Department of Music in HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts established the Center for Rural and Small School Music Education (CRSSME) in the fall of 2019. The CRSSME seeks to provide assistance, support, research, professional development and advocacy for the students and teachers in the rural, small-school music programs of Texas.

“This is an important initiative for the benefit of music educators who are teaching in rural, small schools,” said Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts. “These teachers often lack the resources available to larger enrollment schools, including those in urban and suburban settings. Nevertheless, the students in small, rural schools deserve the opportunity for quality music education irrespective of where they live.”

The music faculty, in collaboration with the advisory board formed of music educators who serve in rural and small schools, provide information primarily through the CRSSME Facebook page. The Facebook page includes print information, videos and related links. Alongside the Facebook page, the center provides various workshops and clinics for students and teachers throughout the year. Among these have been the Drumline Clinic, the Director’s Listening Session and the Instrument Repair Clinic, co-sponsored with Tarpley Music. The center has also conducted outreach clinics for various central Texas instrumental and choral music programs.

“Research demonstrates that the students least likely to pursue college or university education are those from rural school districts,” said Dr. Fiese. “Therefore, it is an important effort of the CRSSME to encourage students who graduate from rural schools to pursue higher education, especially those students who wish to pursue music education as a major.”

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Cutline: HPU’s School of Education and School of Music and Fine Arts are working to help meet needs of rural Texas schools.