The first permanent settlement in the US was in VA. But the Puritans are better-known and more celebrated. We never talk about Jamestown, just about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, Maybe that's because they came over for religious reasons. Maybe it's because they were into education and did things like founding Harvard. If these are all the keywords you're supposed to cover, I think this must be what your teacher is getting at by only giving any extra info about the NE area.
One thing to be aware of is that the RI people set up religious freedom after the were thrown out of MA for having the wrong religious beliefs. So most of the Puritans weren't really into religious freedom -- they just wanted their own beliefs to dominate.