The Riley Institute Selects 21 Fellows for Statewide Afterschool Leadership Initiative

Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University

February 15, 2023 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered equips afterschool and summer learning leaders in the state with the tools they need to grow and improve their programs.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Afterschool and summer learning leaders from across the state will gain new tools to grow and improve their programs through their participation in South Carolina Afterschool Leaders Empowered (SCALE), an initiative of the Riley Institute at Furman University.

SCALE is offered in partnership with and funded by a $1.3 million grant from the South Carolina Department of Education as part of the monies the agency received from the American Rescue Plan to address the academic impact of COVID-19, particularly among youth in need of additional supports to complete unfinished learning.

“Afterschool and summer learning programs fill critical needs in our communities, providing a supportive environment for children as they learn and grow,” said Amy Keely, SCALE director. “Our first SCALE fellows have grown tremendously as leaders, and we’re proud that our second cohort will build upon their work of ensuring quality, impactful afterschool programming across the state.”

The twenty-one leaders comprising the program’s second cohort represent nearly a third of the state’s school districts, a variety of community-based organizations, and a mix of rural, suburban, and urban areas.

Taking place over the course of 10 months, SCALE offers a curriculum that addresses best practices on topics such as school-community partnership development, program sustainability, arts integration, and youth mental health. The program is led by national and local afterschool and summer learning leaders. In addition to convening on Furman’s campus for a weeklong learning experience and participating in monthly webinars, members of the cohort will take a field trip to a nationally-acclaimed summer learning program outside of the state and work on a capstone project related to afterschool or summer learning in their home communities.

High-quality afterschool and summer learning programs have been shown to improve student achievement, life skills, and mental health, all while helping working families keep kids safe. For more than a decade, the Riley Institute has conducted work in the afterschool field at the national level.

Members of the 2023 SCALE cohort are:

  • Taliah Anderson (Greenville, SC) Afterschool Director, Center for Educational Equity
  • Monique Bing (Columbia, SC) Director/Founder, Black Girls’ Clubhouse
  • Erica Bissell (Lexington, SC) Director of Teaching and Learning, Lexington School District One
  • Jessica Buzhardt (Lexington, SC) Coordinator of Early Childhood and Federal Programs, Lexington School District One
  • Kristina Cannon (Newberry, SC) Curriculum Coordinator, Newberry Middle School
  • Eduardo Curry (Charleston, SC) School Engagement Manager, Charleston Promise Neighborhood
  • Crystal Edwards (Johnston, SC) Executive Director, Edgefield County
  • Mykeva Floyd (Greenville, SC) Youth and Family Services Director, YMCA Greenville
  • Austin Greene (Greenville, SC) Coordinator of Special Academic Programs, Greenville County Schools
  • Ashlea Hatcher (Iva, SC) Coordinator of Early Learning and Family Involvement, Anderson School District Three
  • Jeffrey Howard (Belton, SC) Minister to Christian Education & Community Outreach, Generation 4
  • Andrea Johnson (Spartanburg, SC) Director, Bloom Upstate
  • Latoya Morrison (Chester, SC) GEAR UP Coach, GEAR UP
  • Joceline Murdock (Darlington, SC) Curriculum Coordinator, Darlington County School District
  • Danielle Redmond (Fort Mill, SC) Nonprofit President & Educator, Historic Paradise Foundation
  • Heather Reed (Summerville, SC) Afterschool Director, Cane Bay Elementary Cobra Care
  • Theresa Roberts (Beaufort, SC) Executive Director, Love House Learning Academy
  • Tanner Slagle (Rock Hill, SC) Challenger Site Director/2023 Summer Challenger Director, Rock Hill Schools Challenger
  • Darron Teal (Charleston, SC) Program Officer, Kaleidoscope
  • Carolyn Thomas (Summerville, SC) Coordinator of Extended Day, Dorchester District Two Extended Day
  • Syanya Valdovinos (Greenville, SC) Site Director of YouthBASE, YouthBASE Afterschool Program

To learn more about SCALE, visit or contact Keely at


About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, broadening student and community perspectives on critical issues, hosting expert speakers, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at