The Benefits and Challenges of Special Education Positions in Rural Settings: Listening to the Teachers

  • Ann B. Berry Plymouth State University
  • Maggie Gravelle University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Special education teachers, through a national survey conducted in 55 rural districts, provided information on the positive and negative aspects of teaching in rural schools. The 203 special educators were asked what they liked best about their position and what they found challenging. Some of the themes identified in the analysis centered on positive features of working in rural areas. Characteristics of the rural community fostered family-like relationships with others in their school and in-depth relationships with parents and students. Half of the teachers also reported they shared the responsibility or took a team approach to delivering special education services, a factor related to teacher satisfaction. The majority of teachers were satisfied with the instructional aspects of their position but dissatisfied with non-instructional role responsibilities. Challenges of the position also included role confusion and a lack of resources. Related implications for rural administrators interested in the satisfaction of special education teachers are provided.  


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Ann B. Berry, Plymouth State University
Ann B. Berry PhD is an Assistant Professor of Special Education, Department of Educational Leadership, Learning and Curriculum, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH. Dr. Berry is involved with teacher preparation and professional development in a rural region of New Hampshire. She has a strong interest in effective instruction for students with high incidence disabilities, and rural special education teacher retention.
Maggie Gravelle, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Maggie Gravelle MSW was a dedicated doctoral student and Research Specialist at the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Prior to the publication of this manuscript, Maggie was tragically diagnosed with brain cancer that ultimately claimed her life. She was an integral part of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support where she is remembered as a bright, kind, dedicated young woman whose work was highly valued and respected. We definitely feel her absence.  
How to Cite
Berry, A. B., & Gravelle, M. (2013). The Benefits and Challenges of Special Education Positions in Rural Settings: Listening to the Teachers. The Rural Educator, 34(2).
Research Articles