Our Mississippi hub is led by the Mississippi Rural Education Association, a partnership between William Carey University and Mississippi State University.

Mississippi Rural Education Association

The Mississippi Rural Education Association (MSREA) is a partnership between Mississippi State University (MSU) and William Carey University (WCU), created to advance rural education in the Magnolia State. MSREA is the MS State Affiliate of the National Rural Education Association (NREA) and is co-chaired by Amanda Tullos, Project Manager for Rural Education Outreach at the MSU Social Science Research Center and Dr. Patti Permenter, Associate Professor at William Carey University for the School of Education and Associate Director of The Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools, an education-focused non-profit organization.

Within the state of Mississippi, the MSREA supports members in numerous ways, all under the umbrella of the National Rural Education Association. As a chapter of the NREA, the membership-based MSREA:

  • Celebrate the strengths of rural schools in Mississippi
  • Promote excellent teaching and learning in rural schools
  • Advocate for rural schools at the state and national level
  • Serve as a resource for rural schools in Mississippi
  • Collaborate with rural educators across the US

Mississippi State University

One of two founding institutions of the Mississippi Rural Education Association, Mississippi State University is a leader in both research and teacher preparation in Mississippi. Much of this work is anchored by the Social Science Research Center. A multi-and inter- disciplinary research center with over 70 years of experience, the Social Science Research Center promotes, enhances, and facilitates social science research and scholarly activities. This work is led by Dr. Devon Brenner, Director of the Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC) and Professor of Teacher Education in the College of Education at Mississippi State and by Amanda Tullos, Project Manager leading rural education outreach.

Within the SSRC at Mississippi State, the Rural Education Research and Initiatives Lab, or RE:RI, works to conduct and promote rural education research, collaborate with scientists and other scholars to promote education research, practice, and outreach, promote evidence-based education policy making, and develop new initiatives to support education outcomes. Additional programs include:

  • Teacher Preparation For Rural STEM Teacher Persistence And Retention ((TPR)^2): This collaborative research grant is investigating the features of educator preparation programs that focus on preparing new teachers to work in rural schools and the relationships between features of educator preparation programs and new teacher persistence and retention. A collaborative project with 14 institutions across the US, (TPR)^2 is funded by the National Science Foundation through the Noyce Track 4 program.
  • Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program: MS-EPFP is a year-long program that prepares educators and education advocates to understand policy, engage in advocacy, and develop networks and leadership skills to advance equity in education, with a focus on rural education from early childhood through post-secondary.
  • The Whippoorwill: An Award For Rural Young Adult Literature: The whippoorwill is a bird known for its distinct song that fills many remote spaces. The Whippoorwill Award takes on this bird’s name as a way to honor young adult literature that sings the authentic stories of rural people and places. The Whippoorwill Award's mission is to advocate for books that portray the complexity of rural living by dispelling stereotypes and demonstrating diversity among rural people.

William Carey University

William Carey University is a leader in teacher education throughout the state of Mississippi, anchored by campuses in Hattiesburg and just outside of Biloxi, along the Gulf Coast. The WCU School of Education places great value on the Dispositions for Teaching Excellence, values outstanding teaching, and is dedicated to offering socially responsible, theoretically-informed, and research-based effective practice. Dr. Patti Permenter serves as the lead representing WCU in this collaboration.

The partnership with RSC supports William Carey in continuing to build on collaborative relationships and statewide success in uplifting rural education. Patti shares that “At William Carey University, we are deeply committed to strengthening the fabric of rural education in Mississippi. Partnering with Rural Schools Collaborative through the Mississippi Rural Education Association represents a significant step forward in our mission. Through this collaboration, we aim to leverage our educational expertise and deep community connections to innovate and enhance student learning outcomes. Our goal is clear: to equip rural educators and ensure that every child in rural communities receives a quality education.” William Carey works towards that goal in multiple capacities, including the following programs:

  • Grow Your Own: The “Grow Your Own” program is designed to address Mississippi’s critical teacher shortage. It enables high school students who want to become classroom teachers to fast-track their careers through a combination of dual enrollment classes, an accelerated schedule and tuition waivers. Through the program, these students can graduate from William Carey University with a bachelor’s degree in three years.
  • Teacher Assistant Waiver: WCU provides a tuition waiver for paraprofessionals who are employed as teacher’s assistants in an accredited Mississippi Public School System.
  • Mississippi Teacher Residency: This is a selective program for prospective teachers to teach in Mississippi schools. It is a model that blends one year of classroom apprenticeship experience with master's level coursework. MTR works to recruit individuals from backgrounds in underrepresented areas.