MADISON — Katie Haas, a middle school math teacher in the Edgar School District, was one of 19 teachers invited by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin?Madison to speak about rural education issues with education researchers, policymakers, faculty and graduate students at the third annual Teacher Speakout!

Held at the university in November, Teacher Speakout! was a two-day event in which teachers from 18 rural schools across Wisconsin gathered at the university for a panel discussion on issues that matter most to STEM teachers working and living in rural areas.

Why the emphasis on STEM education? “In our conversations with rural school administrators, educators and parents, we hear about challenges in hiring and retaining STEM teachers, as well as concern over being able to offer STEM courses similar to larger districts,” said Craig Albers, co-director of the Rural Education Research & Implementation Center, in a news release “We hope participants were able to learn about opportunities at UW?Madison to further strengthen their STEM programs, as the number of STEM-related jobs continues to grow in this country.”

Haas was eager to share her perspective. She says what she likes best about teaching in a rural school district is the connection that she feels with the community. “I teach at the same school where I once attended. And I work with many teachers in the same situation,” Haas said in the release. “It’s that kind of community.”

Haas was a finalist for the 2019 Department of Public Instruction Presidential Award in Math and Science Teaching and one of six finalists representing Wisconsin for the national award.