REC Foundation Interview with Bill Tarleton
Bill Tarleton has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Rural Education Association (TREA) since 2019. Previously, Bill was Special Education Co-op Director for Borden County, Superintendent at both Abbott and Hico School Districts and has also served as president and Legislative Committee Chairman for TREA.
What does the TREA do?
At the Texas Rural Education Association, we provide services and benefits to 395 rural school districts in Texas (246 with less than 1,00 students), who then utilize those services to improve student outcomes in their communities. In addition to advocating
for school districts, we have numerous sponsors who provide valuable resources to our members. We also have partnerships with organizations such as the REC Foundation, which provide programs and resources directly to students.
Tell us about the students that you serve.
High paying, high quality jobs can be very competitive. We believe that the individuals who have the ability to perform those jobs, regardless of what field they are in, are students in our rural schools. Rural school students typically "do it all" in their school,
in terms of athletics, academics, theater, agriculture education, and more. They are well-rounded and have the people skills to be productive citizens in our workforce. We award between 25 and 30 scholarships each year, yet will have between 275-325 applicants. Virtually all of the applicants deserve a scholarship, in that they meet and exceed the qualifications. I wish we could provide scholarships to each and every one of them.
How did your organization learn about the REC Foundation?
I don't remember who found who, but we immediately knew that this was a partnership that could benefit students in districts where robotics had not taken hold, yet. We are in our third year of working together in this endeavor, and our hope is to introduce
even more students to STEM and robotics as time goes on.
What kind of impact have RECF programs had on students in your area?
The focus on teamwork and skills that REC Foundation programs provide makes for more well-rounded students. To sum it up, one of our past scholarship recipients said in her acceptance video, "I come from a town of 500 and I'm going to a university with over 50,000 students. But because of my upbringing in a rural school community, I've got this!"
How can other rural schools get involved in RECF programming?
If you are in Texas, we can help! We try to get the word out to school districts about this amazing partnership through newsletters, conferences, superintendent meetings, and regional administrative conferences. School Administrators can reach out to any of us at RECF or TREA, and we’ll take it from there!