Facilitate partnerships that provide enhanced opportunities for students, from birth through high school, and their families in rural communities through research-driven continuous improvement.  These innovations address the whole child and create positive transformation in families, schools and communities.


ECU’s Rural Education Institute will be the clearinghouse for outcomes-based research and innovation gained through outreach with networks of partnerships at the local, national and international levels. Information and knowledge will be widely disseminated in order to benefit rural schools and communities and inform practice and policy.

Goals: Improve educational outcomes for rural schools and communities through:

  1. Developing and maintaining interdisciplinary school-university-community partnerships.
  2. Sharing resources/tools gained through networks with partners.
  3. Widely disseminating information/knowledge to inform practice and policy.


North Carolina has the 2nd highest number of rural students in the country - 568,161; roughly 40% of its overall percentage of public school students. Additionally, North Carolina has a student population that is poorer and more diverse than most other states (Showalter, Klein, Johnson, and Harman, 2017).

To help meet the needs of these students and their educators, the Rural Education Institute was established in 1982, with a grant to the College of Education from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The Rural Education Institute (REI) was developed to increase awareness of the unique strengths and needs of rural schools in eastern North Carolina. In 1984 the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated funds for ECU’s REI and established a counterpart at Western Carolina University. During this time, REI provided support in curriculum, management, organizational, personnel, technology, policy, and risk management audits for public school systems.

In July 2002, REI was reorganized to align the institute with several national organizations and universities that focus on rural education issues. With shifts in funding and priorities, REI focused support on the Clinical Teacher conferences and multiple outreach initiatives for middle school and/or high school students from the region.  These efforts were intended to strengthen the college’s  linical partners’ PK-12 educational opportunities and to recruit, prepare, and support teachers in rural eastern North Carolina (Davis, 2017). While this work continues, it is now being done under the Office of Educator Preparation. REI has recently been moved to the Dean’s office as a college-wide initiative. The Rural Education Institute is reinventing itself once again to best meet the current needs of our school-university-community partnerships through research and innovation.


Sanford Teacher Award
College News
Ryanne Hilliard
Ryanne Hilliard selected as finalist for NCACTE Student Teacher of the Year Award
Ryanne Hilliard selected as finalist for NCACTE Student Teacher of the Year Award   In 2016 the North Carolina Association for Colleges and Teacher Educators (NCACTE) initiated the Student Teacher of the Year Award. Ryanne Hilliard (B.S. Mathematics Education, B.A. Mathematics) was selected to represent ECU in the 2018 awards process. Ms. Hilliard was recently selected as one of 10 state finalists for the award. The winner will be announced at NCACTE’s Fall Forum in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, Oct 4, 2018. Ms. Hilliard is currently teaching Continue reading →

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We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching, Hip Hop Civics, & Creativity
Speaker Series: Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 4:00-6:00 East Carolina Heart Institute We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching, Hip Hop Civics, & Creativity The College of Education Diversity Committee and Office for Equity and Diversity invite you to a presentation by Dr. Bettina Love. Dr. Love’s talk will examine the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to Hip Hop civics education and the abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she Continue reading →

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COE Emergency Fund – Help Us Help Our Students!
We have started getting word that some of our COE students have been severely impacted by Hurricane Florence.  The College of Education has some funding to assist in emergencies – but it is limited.  If you want to contribute to the COE Emergency Fund, please click here or on the link below. All contributions are appreciated!  Please know that there is an application process for assistance and that these funds are only offered to students in the College of Education.  COE students who need help Continue reading →

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Contact Us

For more information about our programs, please contact:

Kristen Cuthrell, Ed.D.
Professor and Interim Director
1008-A Bate Building