About Us

Proposed as a catalyst for transdisciplinary research and outreach by leveraging resources across the university and state to address equity challenges while also advocating for place-conscious educational policy at local, state, and national levels, the Center for Rural Education (CRE) was established in late 2021 and took full form during 2022. Founding director Amy Price Azano has studied how structural challenges related to poverty and educational inequities can adversely affect rural schools and communities. As a first-generation college student from a rural community, Azano, understands these challenges both professionally and personally, and also believes in the power and promise of rural schooling.

The Center for Rural Education responds to the university’s land-grant mission and its tripartite mission of research, teaching, and outreach. It is partnering with the Virginia Tech School of Education to develop a graduate certificate in rural education and opportunities for provisionally licensed teachers to earn their teaching credentials, and also plans to support community outreach efforts by partnering with existing rural-facing entities. 

Our Team

Amy Price Azano, Ph.D.

Amy Price Azano, Ph.D.

Amy Price Azano, Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Rural Education, is an associate professor of rural education and adolescent literacy in the School of Education. She serves as principal investigator for multiple rural education grants, including the Appalachian Rural Talent Initiative and SEE VT. A product of rural schools herself, Dr. Azano grew up in beautiful Luray, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley and taught high school English and creative writing before pursuing her doctorate in education from the University of Virginia. Currently, Dr. Azano is the chair of the AERA’s Rural Education SIG and co-editor of The Rural Educator. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, is the co-editor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Rural Education in the United States and Gifted Education in Rural Schools: Developing Place-Based Interventions and is the co-author of Teaching in Rural Places: Thriving in Classrooms, Schools, and Communities. In 2021, Dr. Azano was awarded the Brzezinski Award for career achievement in rural education research by the National Rural Education Association and the Land Grant Scholar award from Virginia Tech.

Contact: azano@vt.edu

Rachelle Kuehl, Ph.D.

Rachelle Kuehl

Rachelle Kuehl is a Research Scientist in Rural Education at Virginia Tech and manager of the Appalachian Rural Talent Initiative. A faculty member in the School of Education, Dr. Kuehl is a 2022 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow , conducting research on antiracist critical literacy practices in rural Appalachia. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and an Ed.S. as a Reading Specialist in 2020. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Radford University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. A former elementary teacher and reading specialist, Dr. Kuehl’s articles about rural gifted education, literacy instruction, children’s literature, and teacher education have appeared in publications such as The Reading Teacher, English Journal, Theory & Practice in Rural Education, the Journal of Children’s Literature, Reading Horizons, English in Education, the Teacher Educators’ Journal, and the Journal of Literacy Innovation and she has authored or co-authored five chapters in recent scholarly collections.

Contact: rkuehl@vt.edu

Clint Whitten

Clint Whitten, a two-time Virginia Tech graduate, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Foundations of Education with a research focus on the intersections of rurality and Queerness in education. He was recently selected to receive the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, given annually to outstanding graduate students who demonstrate exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education. A former middle school English, creative writing, and theatre teacher, Clint led the humanities curriculum for the Summer Enrichment Experience at Virginia Tech. He serves as a Graduate Assistant in Rural Education and an Instructor on Record for “Issues of Schooling in America.” He has forthcoming presentations at the National Rural Education Association annual convention and research symposium and the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention. Recently, he was a keynote speaker at Blacksburg’s first Pride march and a guest poet at Virginia Tech’s “Simply Elemental” art gallery in the Hahn gardens.

Contact: cdw615@vt.edu