Tyahna Cannon, Special Education


Name: Tyahna Cannon

College: College of Education

Major: Adaptive Curriculum Special Education

Age: 44

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Albany, Georgia

Hobbies/interests: Supporting nephews in sporting events, working out, crafting


How will you take ECU with you after graduation? I am so thankful for the people that were in my cohort. There are relationships that were formed with some of them that I will take with me.

Tyahna Cannon’s passion for working with children led her to pursue her bachelor’s degree in special education through East Carolina University’s Partnership Teach program. As she prepares to walk across the stage on Friday, she will complete the final step in fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a teacher.

Prior to ECU, Cannon received an associate degree through Tidewater Community College and began working part time in a prekindergarten program at her church, where she found one of her mentors, the director of the program.

“She taught me to see the kids and to meet the kids where they are,” she said. “She helped me see the passion again for teaching.”

Cannon found another mentor in Dr. Kristin Burnette, College of Education assistant professor. In 2023, when Cannon needed to have surgery, she worked with Burnette to ensure all her assignments were completed early so she wouldn’t get behind. However, Burnette made sure Cannon was taking care of herself.

“The grace, support and love that she poured out during that very difficult time for me meant a lot to me,” she said.

Tyahna Cannon found a network of support at ECU that she will take with her as she cultivates her own classroom environment.

Tyahna Cannon found a network of support at ECU that she will take with her as she cultivates her own classroom environment.

Cannon also credits the Partnership Teach program and her advisor Karli Ruscoe for supporting her as she pursued her degree while working full time as a teacher assistant. While she wasn’t on campus for class every day, the bonds formed with members of her cohort and attending ECU football games deepened her connection to Pirate Nation.

One of the things Cannon is most proud of is that she has taken and passed all five Praxis exams and will be licensed to teach special education, adapted and general curriculum, and regular elementary education.

In addition to her certifications, Cannon will graduate summa cum laude. When asked what advice she could give current and future students, she encouraged them to build time for schoolwork in their schedule.

“Your instructor may not be available last minute to answer questions you have,” she said. “Setting aside time every day rather than waiting until the day it’s due will be helpful and you won’t be as stressed.”

Starting this fall, Cannon will take the lessons and support she experienced at ECU with her as she begins the next phase of her career in her own special education classroom in Pitt County.