Alabama & The Black Belt

The University of West Alabama’s Rural Education Center anchors our Alabama & the Black Belt Regional Hub.

Along with the Black Belt Teacher Corps, The University of West Alabama College of Education's Center for Rural Education (UWA) connects our work to Alabama and the Black Belt regions of Mississippi and Georgia. UWA College of Education dean, Dr. Jan Miller, an RSC board member, serves as the hub contact person for this effort bolstering rural education across the three-state region.

The University of West Alabama is located in the small rural town of Livingston, AL, which is located in the middle of the Black Belt Region. The Black Belt has a unique history and geography, and UWA is perfectly positioned to address issues such as rural poverty, teacher shortages, and the concept of school and community improvement.

Program Planning in Alabama (Dr. Jan Miller right)

The relationship between the Rural Schools Collaborative and The University of West Alabama was facilitated by former RSC board member Larry Lee of Montgomery, Alabama, and started with a modest planning grant in 2015.

Since that time, under the leadership of Dr. Miller and University president, Dr. Ken Tucker, UWA has become a national leader in the field of rural education. This commitment has led to the establishment of several exemplary efforts. These include:

Early graduates of the Black Belt Teacher Corps

RSC Strategic Advisor, Gary Funk, said, "On behalf of our board of directors, I want to thank Dr. Miller, her colleagues and students for working with us. They have been gracious partners, and we would not be where we are today without UWA's support and cooperation. In addition, we are so thankful for Larry Lee and his tireless advocacy of public education. Not only did Larry make possible this relationship, but his commitment to our Grants in Place program has been wonderful."

Netta Davis - Sarah, MS

Netta Davis

"Doing History" with Students

The dedication of a teacher to their students is one of the enduring qualities of the profession. Aquenetta (Netta) Davis, an outstanding rural teacher in Mississippi, has traveled around the country, putting down roots in numerous states through her time in the military and laterin education. Yet at each stop along the way, her belief that “all students can learn” has driven her work to educate and inspire everyone who enters her classroom.

Netta spoke with us to share more about her story, and what drives her work to make education and achievement accessible to all. Netta's heart for students shines through in her classroom, where she encourages mutual respect and individualized learning. Netta and her students don't just learn history - they do history.

UWA College of Education's Project REP

A step forward in bolstering rural schools and sparking community revitalization.