Colonial Life has again showcased its commitment to supporting educators and education with the fifth year of the Education Leaders Experience (ELE).
The ELE program was created by Colonial Life and is administered in partnership with the Center for Educational Partnerships at the University of South Carolina.
ELE is a 10-month professional development program that connects leading educators with business leaders and exposes them to real-world talent needs in today’s workforce. For the 2020-21 school year, monthly sessions will focus on economic trends, entrepreneurship, influencing legislative policy and transformational change. Participants will also be matched with a local business or community leader for an executive job shadowing opportunity.
The group’s opening retreat kicked off virtually in mid-July, when they began their journey by hearing from a Colonial Life leadership panel, featuring Tim Arnold, president and CEO of Colonial Life, and members of his leadership team.
“Creating a strong partnership between educators and business leaders is critical to growing 21st century employees,” Arnold said. “This program helps our company learn valuable lessons from today’s educators and helps inform them on current workplace trends and needs. It’s beneficial for all of us.”
This year’s class of 25 represents school districts within the Midlands and surrounding counties of Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, Orangeburg and Newberry counties and higher education institutions. The members are:
- Karen Beaman, program director for masters in education administration and leadership, Columbia College
- Patrick Bennett, speech/ humanities instructor, Midlands Technical College
- Audrey Brady, data analyst, Richard School District 2
- Mary Brooks, director of parenting/ early childhood, Lexington School District 2
- Jamie Brunson, principal, Fairfield Middle School
- Teesa Brunson, associate vice president for institutional advancement, Allen University
- Rob Dedmon, assistant dean, University of South Carolina College of Education
- Jenny Garris, director of technology, School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties
- Katrina Goggins, director of communications, School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties
- Bob Grant, chief auxiliary services officer, Orangeburg County School District
- Nicholas Hill, dean, Claflin University School of Business
- Stephanie Hucks, principal, Busbee Creative Arts Academy
- Joi O’Neill, school counselor, Sandhills Middle School
- Natalie Osborne Smith, coordinator of professional learning, Lexington County School District One
- Monica Owens Carter, principal, H.B. Rhame Elementary School
- Anthony A. Pittman, dean and professor of education, Claflin University
- Albert Robertson, coordinator of social studies, Lexington County School District One
- Ralph Schmidt, assistant superintendent, Lexington County School District Three
- William Simon, director of planning, Richland County School District Two
- Katrina Singletary, director of secondary education, School District of Newberry County
- LaShaune Smith-Brisbon, assistant professor of education, Benedict College
- LaNisha Tindal, director of alternative learning programs, Gordon Odyssey Academy
- Lilla Toal Mandsager, director of educator effectiveness and leadership development, S.C. Department of Education
- Neshunda Walters, principal, Eau Claire High School
- Christy Wendland, associate dean of academic affairs, Newberry College
“A critical part of the mission of the Center for Educational Partnerships is to collaborate with teachers, schools and districts to meet the educational needs of communities in South Carolina,” said Cindy Van Buren, director of the Center for Educational Partnerships and assistant dean for professional partnerships at the University of South Carolina College of Education.
“Being a partner in the work of the Education Leaders Experience allows CEP to live out its mission in a profound and action-oriented way.”
According to panelist Charlene Glidden, vice president, transformation office for Colonial Life and Unum, an investment in educators is an investment in the company. Businesses rely on the talent that our teachers are producing. Supporting them in their efforts and opening our doors to expose them to available careers and required skill sets is vital to growing our state’s economy and preparing students for success.
The learning doesn’t stop with the program, either. Multiple participants from past ELE program cohorts have been recognized recently as being among the best educators in South Carolina.
Take a look at some of their outstanding achievements below:
- Sonya Bryant, ELE’s Delta class of 2020 and principal of Batesburg-Leesville High School, Lexington School District 3, has been selected as the South Carolina Secondary Principal of the Year for 2020. This prestigious award is sponsored by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
- Angie Rye, a graduate of ELE’s Gamma class of 2019 and Lexington School District Three Chief Academic Officer, has been named the 2021 South Carolina District Level Administrator of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
- Nancy Gregory, ELE’s Beta class of 2018 and Chief Instructional Officer, Richland School District 2, was named the 2018 District Level Administrator of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
- Michael Harris, a graduate of ELE’s Gamma class of 2019 and Chief Planning and Administration Officer of Lexington-Richland School District 5, was recognized as the 2019 District Level Administrator of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
- Robin Coletrain, graduate of ELE’s Beta class of 2018 and principal at W.A. Perry Middle School, Richland School District 1, was named the 2020 SC Middle Level Principal of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).