Our vision is to revitalize rural education and create opportunities to enhance the quality of rural living. 

Our mission is to promote rural student achievement by ensuring equal access to high-quality instruction, supporting rural educators in their endeavors to improve rural school outcomes, and advocating for rural communities. 

Rural Schools Collaborative Partnership 

The Rural Schools Collaborative is committed to place-based engagement, rural philanthropy, and developing teacher-leaders.    

Visit http://ruralschoolscollaborative.org/ for more information. 

Place-Based Learning 

The sensibility of grounding educational activities in community and neighborhood is obvious, and the advantage here goes to the small rural school. Access to the outdoors, local government, the town square, and agriculture is more readily available to teachers and students in rural school districts. In addition, local decisions to implement these kinds of learning activities should be less bureaucratic, and there is ample opportunity for student work to contribute to community problem solving. 

Place-based education gives meaning to learning, strengthens the bonds between school and community, and instills pride and wonder in the cultures and histories of rural places and small towns. 

Tell your place-based education story! Let us know at info@ruralschoolscollaborative.org

Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Leading 

The Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Leading (CETLL) serves as a centralized educational and professional development unit on the University of West Alabama’s campus for all faculty, staff, and students as well as regional educators employed in elementary through post-secondary educational settings. Housed in the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education, the purpose of the CETLL is to provide high quality opportunities for professional learning aimed at advancing effective instructional strategies and enhancing student learning. 

Our Mission 

The mission of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Leading is to support and advance high quality and innovative professional development opportunities for UWA faculty, staff, students, and professional educators throughout the region, which advanced the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning through collaboration, application, inquiry, and reflection of effective instructional strategies and educational pedagogy. 

Dr. Celeste A. Wheat 

Our Director 

Dr. Celeste A. Wheat was appointed as the founding director of the CETLL in May of 2014. In her role as director, she supports and advances excellence in teaching and learning among the academic community at the university and regional institutions of education at the elementary through post secondary levels. Dr. Wheat organizes and coordinates professional development programming and outreach related to educational pedagogy, instructional technology, and course and curriculum design.  

She also supports the University community in providing UWA students with exposure and opportunities to engage in active and critical learning, such as TED Talk Tuesday events. 

For more information, contact Dr. Wheat at cwheat@uwa.edu or (205) 652.5418 

Teaching Forums 

As part of the initiatives associated with the Center for Achievement, Retention and Enrichment Services (CARES) Grant, the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Leading will be hosting 5 Teaching Forums per year of the grant cycle.  

  • The aim of the Teaching Forums is to provide professional development that strengthens the local and regional K-12 educational system.  

The intended audiences for Teaching Forums are: 

  • UWA teacher preparation students 
  • UWA faculty who teach courses in the teacher preparation programs, and/or 
  • Local/regional K-12 professional educators 

Note: Teaching Forums may include any one of the aforementioned audiences or any combination of the audiences. The local community may also be invited to attend any Teaching Forum.  

Funding up to $800.00 per Teaching Forum is available for expenditures associated with the forums that are permissible under the terms of the CARES Grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Generally, any costs associated with supplies for the Teaching forums or speaker fees are considered an allowable expenditure. 

If you have any questions regarding the Teaching Forums, please contact CETLL Director Dr. Celeste A. Wheat. 

Please complete the Teaching Forum Funding Request Form. Applications must be received PRIOR to the Teaching Forum Event. The CETLL Director will notify applicant(s) of award of funding support.  

Partnership Schools 

Partnership schools systems are an integral component to true collaboration in higher education and k-12 schools. Our partner schools share UWA College of Education’s commitment to state-of-the-art and diverse learning in the classroom, sharing research-based best practices, nurturing and developing responsible, innovative, reflective, and caring educational professionals, and engaging community partners in collaboration to inspire positive change. 

If you are interested in becoming a partner school with the Center for Rural Education, please contact Dr. Jan Miller, Dean of the College of Education (jmiller@uwa.edu). 

Rethinking the Rural Education Project 

REP is working to reform the teacher preparation program and develop a comprehensive reform of the system for rural teacher recruitment, preparation, and induction/mentoring to improve student achievement by improving the quality of new teachers. This initiative is currently recruiting and preparing high-quality teachers for high-need rural LEA schools where a high percentage of teachers do not meet the required certification criteria, teacher attrition is prevalent, and student achievement remains persistently low. 
Project Objectives/Outcomes: 

  • Establish a collaborative partnership among UWA-COE , the Sumter County Schools, and Demopolis City Schools for the REP Initiative 
  • Prepare teacher candidates to be high-quality teachers for high-need rural LEA schools 
  • Effectively place, support, and retain diverse and highly-qualified teachers in high-need rural LEA schools 
  • Improve the academic achievement of rural public school students through the reform of the educator preparation program. 

K-12 Charter School 

The mission of University Charter School is to be a rural, diverse K-12 school that cultivates independent thought, promotes the building of character and civic responsibility and is committed to preparing all students for personal and professional success through the discovery of individual learning pathways in a rigorous and integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) focused, project-based and place-based curriculum.