Our Southeast Hub is led by the East Carolina University Rural Education Institute.

Our Southeast Hub partners at the East Carolina University Rural Education Institute offer a state-wide network of exemplary rural-focused programming aimed at creating equitable, empowered, and thriving rural school ecosystems. Dr. Kristen Cuthrell, Director of the Rural Education Institute, serves as the hub contact for this region.

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University (ECU) was founded as a teacher training institute, and has served the rural communities in the region ever since. Over time, ECU grew to be a leading voice for rural education across the state through their Rural Education Institute (REI). Now, through this new partnership with Rural Schools Collaborative, the REI team is excited to work together with RSC and the Hub Network to elevate the voices of rural educators in North and South Carolina as the Southeast Hub.

REI teammembers hard at work planning rural teacher pathways. Photo courtesy of REI

The REI’s work is expansive, but it all points back to the institute’s mission of “initiating and facilitating partnerships and research-driven innovations in schools and communities.” REI positions itself as an easy-to-access and friendly collaborator with local education stakeholders of all shapes. The hope is that by providing a space for rural education voices, perspectives, and innovations to thrive, that REI and its local partners can together strengthen the educational outcomes of rural students, schools, and communities.

REI works locally in four primary ways:

  1. ECU Next Gen: a teacher pathway program that seeks to cultivate the next generation of rural educators and researchers.

  2. Local and Regional Development: seeking to build up the capacity of rural places by collaborating with schools and communities.

  3. Rural Education Promotion: articulating and advocating the importance of rural schools and communities.

  4. Research and Evaluation: studying our practice and investigating what works in rural schools.

Dr. Kristen Cuthrell, Director of REI reaffirms the great value rural schools and communities possess, and shares how this new Hub partnership will play a central role in her team’s work to elevate that value: “I am committed to our rural schools and communities and value the opportunity to partner in all ways across our region. That is the vision I see for this newest regional hub: creating shared space for elevating our region’s collective knowledge, experiences, and commitment to rural places and spaces.”

That sense of coming together to do what each does well, and to grow together, is widely felt by the faculty at REI. Dr. Robert Quinn, an Associate Professor of Art Education at ECU, underscores how coming together is quintessentially rural, and something that excites him in this work: “Rural is certainly a geographic distinction, but it is also much more than that. Rural is a frame of mind and a way of being whereby people adapt to geographic remoteness by forming communities to promote flourishing of those who live in these communities.” Dr. Cuthrell agrees, showing how she and her team intend to carry this same sentiment nationally with the larger RSC Hub Network. “There is much we can learn and share with each other,” she says. “I’m looking forward to the connections and collaborations. We all have something to share.”

Teacher Profile

Tiffany Phillips

Tiffany Phillips

How rural educators become community leaders.

Many rural residents strive to create a positive impact in their community, empowering the next generation of local leadership. To this aim, a lot of folks discover teaching as the avenue to do just that. Tiffany Phillips is entering her eighth year of teaching at G.R. Whitfield, a K-8 school in Grimesland, NC. A North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Tiffany shared with us about her choice to become a teacher, and how her role fits into the greater community.

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