Looking for a college? Gruver, Texas, can teach us something. A small but remarkable community in Hansford County, Gruver is home to about 1,200 souls.
The community wanted to be the county seat of Hansford County, and during the 1920s there was a battle between the good folks of Gruver, led by Uncle Joe Gruver, and the anxious citizens of Spearman, Texas, a few miles down the road. Over a period that spanned nearly two decades, there were battles between the communities over railroad interests, line locations, county politics and state politics. The governor and eventually the state legislature got involved, and it got tough along the way. At one point there was gunplay that thankfully turned into an old-fashioned fistfight, having no impact on the outcome but revealing a level of intensity resident in Panhandle communities—an American kind of toughness that embodies and is driven by community aspirations. Uncle Joe Gruver lost the fight and never forgot it. He was tough, innovative and persistent with a spirit that represented the very best of those good folks of Gruver. They work together and worked hard, standing unified and proactive for community improvement and a brighter future.
That has never changed.
Gruver ISD, a school district of less than 500 students (a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s 5.5 million), gets an A rating on accountability, has experienced teachers averaging over fourteen years of service (three years greater than the state average) and a four-year graduation rate of over 96% (compared to the state’s 90%). Teachers’ salaries at $46,026 are low (about 15% below state averages). But Gruver has spit. By comparison, Houston ISD’s accountability rating is a B for its 210,000 students, the average teacher’s salary is $54,125 at the state average and just over 80% graduate on time or earlier. Small can be very good. There’s no symphony or ballet, few museums or live theater, such as available in the great Bayou City, but Amarillo is not far away, nor is West Texas A&M University. The power of community flourishes in Gruver, Texas, where a donated parcel of land (410 acres) allows farmers to grow corn to help students go to college. The Gruver Farm Scholarship Foundation was established in 2012 to motivate students through incentives and encourage academic and extracurricular success. 20 The power of community flourishes in Gruver, Texas, where a donated parcel of land (410 acres) allows farmers to grow corn to help students go to college. The Gruver Farm Scholarship Foundation was established in 2012 to motivate students through incentives and encourage academic and extracurricular success.
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