Colonial Life program sends educators back to class

The 2019-20 class of the Education Leaders Experience gathers for a group photo at the opening retreat at Senate's End.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (July 29, 2019) — Educators from across the Midlands are heading back to class this year as part of a program from Colonial Life and the Center for Educational Partnerships at the University of South Carolina to help develop students for the future workforce.

The Education Leaders Experience is a 10-month journey that connects education professionals with business leaders. For the 2019-20 school year, the fourth year of the program, 24 educators will participate in monthly sessions and site visits to hear from business and community leaders and employers across the region to learn insights into skills and talent needs for today’s workforce and tomorrow’s leaders.

“The Center for Educational Partnerships is excited to partner with Colonial Life to offer this unique experience to educational leaders across the Midlands,” said Dr. Cindy Van Buren, center director and assistant dean in the College of Education at UofSC. “The center’s involvement fits with our mission to encourage, facilitate and participate in partnerships that support and sustain quality K-12 education in South Carolina.”

This year’s class includes school administrators and district office employees from Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties, as well as higher education and state department officials from across the Midlands. The members of the 2019-20 class are:

• Angela Adams, CarolinaTIP lead coach, University of South Carolina
• Sonya Bryant, principal of Batesburg-Leesville High School, Lexington County School District 3
• Lynn Cary, assistant superintendent for instruction, School District of Newberry County
• Elyse (Lisa) Davis, principal of Meadowfield Elementary School, Richland One
• Flavia Eldemire, director of counseling and placement, Allen University
• William (Christian) English, assistant principal of Dutch Fork High School School, Lexington-Richland School District 5
• David Fowler, department chair of the School of Business, Newberry College
• Mary Gaskins, director of leadership development and continuous improvement, Lexington School District One
• Bobbie Hartwell, principal of Hopkins Middle School, Richland One
• Leslie Hightower, director of federal program and accountability, Lexington School District Four
• Ericka Hursey, principal of Lower Richland High School, Richland One
• Jim Lane, professor of education, Columbia College
• Ashlee Lewis, assistant professor, University of South Carolina
• Harold Mayes, program manager of Birchwood High School, S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice
• Kaitlyn (Katie) Nilges, assistant general counsel, S.C. Department of Education
• Shane Phillips, director of assessment and accountability, Lexington School District One
• G. Cleve Pilot, director of CTE, Fairfield County School District
• Mal Reeder, faculty, Midlands Technical College
• Dawn Sargent, assistant principal of Swansea High School, Lexington School District Four
• Nicole Skeen, university induction coordinator, University of South Carolina
• MacKenzie Taylor, director of public information and community relations, Lexington County School District 3
• Emmylou Todd, coordinator of special education, Lexington School District Two
• Hope Vrana, principal of Springdale Elementary School, Lexington School District Two
• Kathy Woodard, principal of Kelly Miller Elementary School, Fairfield County School District

“Creating a strong partnership between educators and business leaders is critical to growing 21st century employees,” said Tim Arnold, president and CEO of Colonial Life. “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.”

About Colonial Life
Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support nearly 100,000 businesses and organizations, and 4.5 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information visit or connect with the company at, and Colonial Life is a registered trademark and marketing brand of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company.

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