Alabama And The Black Belt Region

The University of West Alabama’s Rural Education Center anchors our Alabama and the Black Belt Region 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, 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 memberLarry 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."

A Statewide Initiative

Increased Funding Supports New Teach for Alabama Program

We’d like to share the incredible work of our partners at the University of West Alabama’s College of Education. The inspiring and ever-evolving work of the Black Belt Teacher Corps (BBTC), now known as Black Belt Teacher Corps Teach for Alabama, is truly a model for other universities interested in tackling rural teacher shortages.

BBTC began in the fall of 2016 with a goal to address the teacher shortages present in public schools throughout the Black Belt region. To do this, BBTC offers tuition scholarships to the College of Education for students who commit to three years of service in a Black Belt region school.

Recently, the scholarship program broadened the scope of its programming in several key ways. First, they’ve expanded teacher placements to serve not only Black Belt counties, but also any designated rural areas of Alabama and high-needs districts. Additionally, they’ve extended scholarship opportunities to more than the traditional on-campus student, accepting applications from Alt-A applicants, online applicants, and teacher assistants working towards initial certification.

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UWA College of Education's Project REP

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