South Carolina ASCD Emerging Leader Program

As part of our ongoing mission to Learn, Teach, and Lead, South Carolina ASCD seeks to develop and support the next generation of leaders.  The South Carolina Emerging Leader Program is comprised of an accomplished group of educators, typically with 5–15 years of experience, who desire to become more involved in our state's educational community.  Emerging Leaders are passionate and committed to the "Whole Child," a belief that every child in that state of South Carolina deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. 

South Carolina ASCD Emerging Leaders

Class of 2017


AshleyBrewer smAshley Brewer
Powdersville High School

My name is Ashley Brewer and I am currently celebrating my eighth year as a public school educator in the Upstate of South Carolina. Upon graduating from the University of South Carolina Upstate where I obtained a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education-English, I was given the privilege of returning to my hometown and teaching for seven years at Boiling Springs Middle School and just completed my eighth year of teaching at Powdersville High School in Anderson School District One.

In 2014, I received my Master's degree in Administration and Supervision from Southern Wesleyan University and in 2015, I became middle school certified. In addition to being blessed by an amazing school family, I have the absolute honor of coming home to my amazing husband and four beautiful children each day. I am extremely excited to be a part of, learn from, and lead with some of South Carolina’s newest emerging leaders.

Karen Buffalo smKaren Buffalo

As a native of South Florida, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of relocating to South Carolina with my family. I’ve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education; a Master of Education in Elementary and Secondary Counselor Education, and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Administration.

The span of my career in education includes serving as an Elementary Assistant Principal, Duke TIP On-Site Director, Enterprise Learning Coach, Elementary School Counselor, Response to Intervention Coordinator, Preschool Special Needs teacher, Kindergarten teacher, and Second Grade Teacher. Becoming an educator has also allowed me invaluable opportunities to teach aboriginal students in Northern Australia, as well as Northern Virginia.

My past experiences have shaped my core beliefs and leadership philosophy of education. As a child who grew up in poverty, I learned the value of education, self-discipline, and good ole’ fashioned hard work.

For me, schools should be an integral part of the community they inhabit. In learning through “love and laughter”, I aspire to empower students to be innovative global scholars and leaders through a rigorous focus on learning instruction and experiences, which will impact the whole child. I will continue providing an enriched educational experience for students in a safe and joyful environment that embraces cooperation, teamwork, and respect.

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Shanitra Deas
Dent Middle School

Mrs. Shanitra Singleton Deas is a native Sumter, South Carolina.  She was educated and excelled academically and socially in the Sumter School District, and is a former member of Pro Team and Teacher Cadets. Shanitra, a former South Carolina Teaching Fellow, attended Columbia College, graduating with a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Divergent Learning.  Shanitra also holds a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of South Carolina.  

Shanitra recently completed her twelfth year in education. Currently, she serves as an assistant principal in Dent Middle School in Richland School District Two. Previously, she has served as the Curriculum Effectiveness Specialist at Kelly Mill Middle School, and as an English Language Arts teacher in Sumter at Bates Middle School and Furman Middle School. Shanitra is a National Board Certified Teacher, was the 2011 Sumter Area Reading Council Distinguished Teacher of Reading, and has most recently been selected to attend the 2017 Discovery Education Network Principal Summit. Additionally, she has presented at national and local conferences and workshops.

Shanitra is married to Jabari Deas, who is also an educator.  They are the proud parents of two son, Jabari, Jr. (8) and David (3).

Trixi Derosa Davis

Trixi Derosa Davis
Virtual SC

Trixi DeRosa-Davis has spent the last 14 years teaching Spanish in both the brick and mortar classroom as well as online.  At VirtualSC, she has written Spanish 1 through 4 Honors courses.  Most recently she has worked to create proficiency-based courses for the Spanish program, allowing students to personalize their learning by focusing on mastery. She has also written a course for middle school called Exploring World Languages in SC.   Trixi also serves as the World Languages Team Leader.

For the past 5 years Trixi has been an adjunct at USC Upstate in the School of Education, teaching courses on World Language teaching methods and Technology Resources.

Trixi was named the VirtualSC 2016 Teacher of the Year and the iNACOL (International Association of Online Learning) Teacher of the Year. In 2008 she also received the honor of being named a Teacher of the Year at the James F Byrnes.  Trixi is very active in presenting at professional development opportunities around the state.  Her most recent presentations focus on augmented and  virtual reality as well as personalized learning.

In her spare time Trixi and her family spend time developing their new homestead, complete with animals, garden & home canned food.

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Laruen Dillard
Sangaree Elementary School

Lauren Dillard is a proud alumni from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education.  She has been an educator in Berkeley County School District for 10 years, and has experience teaching grades 1, 2, and 3. She is now the instructional coach at Sangaree Elementary school.

During her educational career Lauren has also completed National Board Certification as well as her Masters in Reading Education and Elementary Administration from the Citadel.  Currently, she is a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina, pursuing a degree in Curriculum & Instruction.

During her time in education, Ms. Dillard has become extremely passionate about student achievement through the experiences of 21st century collaboration and cooperation.  She has spent her time as an instructional coach learning and researching about best practices for students of poverty, project-based learning, and the integration of technology in the classrooms.

In her free time, Ms. Dillard is passionate about international missions and has traveled to Uganda to work with the Freedom Heroes program, which is a program for boys who live on the streets of Kampala.

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Austin Greene
Greenville County Schools

Austin Greene is a Title I Math Academic Specialist for Greenville County Schools. Her background consists of numerous instructional positions, serving as Instructional Coach at Fountain Inn Elementary and as math interventionist and classroom teacher in Spartanburg District Five.  

Austin works alongside teachers and instructional leaders to tailor professional learning experiences in Title I elementary schools. These levels of support vary based on each school's specific needs but always emphasize refining practice in order to increase student performance. Austin serves in various district-level leadership roles for Greenville County Schools.

She is a co-planner for “Summer Academy,” a district-wide, conference-style professional development platform and co-leader of a “PLCs in Practice” workshop series that helps leadership teams establish and grow highly functioning PLCs.

Austin was selected as a Clemson doctoral candidate’s primary data collection resource for a study entitled “Instructional Coaches and the Development of Relational Trust.”  Austin finds significance in taking the time to identify individual strengths which provides the opportunity to build capacity and expand influence.  She is passionate about public education, teacher growth, and implementation of best practices to increase student achievement.  Collaborating with others to troubleshoot challenges faced in education today is the impetus of Austin’s work.

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Meg Huggins
River Bluff High School

Meg Huggins has been an educator for 13 years, all within Lexington County School District One. Finishing her undergrad at the University of Tennessee with a Political Science major in 2002, Meg went on to receive two Master degrees from the University of South Carolina, a MAT in Secondary Social Studies and M. Ed in Education Administration.

Meg began her career at White Knoll High School, then went to Lexington High School. She is now a proud Gator at River Bluff High School.

As the Lead Teacher for the Center for Law and Global Policy Development, Meg has lead initiatives like the Law and Policy Symposium that brings in guest panelists to discuss current issues and events with all the stakeholders of Lexington One.

Meg organizes externships for her Senior Center students which gives them the opportunity to learn in an authentic way what it means to be a lawyer, judge, legislator, enforcement officer, or policy writer.

Meg is a teacher leader who strives to support her students and her colleagues to ensure that all students achieve as a 21st Century Graduate. Meg has presented at conferences to induction teachers and teaching fellows students from across the state of South Carolina, she has led school-based and district-level PD. Her passion for education will take a shift in perspective this next year as she accepts an Assistant Principal position at River Bluff High School for the 2017-18 school year.

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Trevor Ivey
Alice Drive Middle School

Currently in his 10th year of the education profession, Trevor T. Ivey currently serves as an assistant principal at Alice Drive Middle School, a nationally accredited STEM school. A proud product of the public schools of Sumter County, Trevor received his undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of South Carolina and also holds a graduate degree in educational policy & management from Harvard University.

A National Board Certified Teacher, Trevor’s classroom teaching experience spans many grade levels as an elementary & middle school science teacher, adult education GED math instructor, and continues as an adjunct instructor with the University of South Carolina. Trevor was named Sumter’s top teacher in 2012 and elevated to a Top Five Finalist for SC Teacher of Year in 2013.

Trevor’s leadership philosophy, Expecting Excellence for All, is defined by five core beliefs: 1) the children come first and foremost, 2) victory is in the classroom, 3) parents are our partners, 4) leadership and accountability are our shared keys to success, and 5) it takes the engagement of the entire community to experience sustainable success.

His passion for teaching & learning, increasing the level of teacher quality, teacher leadership, and political advocacy exhilarates him in the public education field. In his future work, Trevor looks forward to making a profound impact through his unique ability to innovatively connect people, ideas, and resources to build social-impact programs of scale.

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Robert Jackson
Longleaf Middle School

Mr. Jackson is an award winning educational leader who has served South Carolina's public schools as a teacher, coach, and administrator for 24 years.

Currently, Mr. Jackson serves as the Principal of Longleaf Middle School home to two unique and comprehensive magnet school offerings (The School of Zoological and Botanical Studies Magnet and the Longleaf Engineering and Arts Program). Prior to his tenure at Longleaf, Mr. Jackson founded the International Academic Magnet at Irmo Middle School (where he earned five consecutive Excellent Absolute and Improvement Ratings on the South Carolina School Report Card) in School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties. Superintendent Steve Hefner recently presented him with the Visionary Award for Excellence in Leadership. He was also recently named as the Inez Tenebaum Award Recipient for his exemplary achievement during the School Leadership Executive Institute.

Mr. Jackson received a Bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education from South Carolina State University, a Master's degree in Athletic Administration from the United States Sports Academy, an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from South Carolina State University, and is currently finishing a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from South Carolina State University.

Mr. Jackson is an award-winning leader who believes a collaborative school environment is the key to creating successful teachers and students. He believes people come first. The higher you go, the more necessary it becomes to focus on people. It is essential that you know, respect, challenge, support and serve people.

Mr. Jackson is married to Kaseena Jackson (Principal at Langford Elementary in Richland 2). They have one daughter (Kristian).


Madeline Jurek
Dorman High School

Madeline Jurek is in her 10th year of teaching and her eighth year at Dorman High School. She is currently the Choral Director at Dorman Freshman Campus where she teaches Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus and Mixed Advanced Chorus preparing students for several concerts, competitions, and tours throughout the year.

Madeline is actively involved in the South Carolina Music Educator’s Association, South Carolina American Choral Directors Association and the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

She has served as the site coordinator for the Upstate Choral Solo Ensemble Festival for five years. Madeline was named the 2014-2015 Dorman Freshman Campus Teacher of the Year and the 2015-2016 Spartanburg School District Six Teacher of the Year.

As District Teacher of the Year, she served on the Spartanburg School District Six Teacher Forum where she facilitated an upstate teacher forum event titled “Engaging our Collective Voice” that hosted Molly Spearman, SC State Superintendent of Education. Currently Madeline is a student at Clemson University where she is working on her PhD. In Educational Leadership.

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Courtney Long
Leaphart Elementary School

I am delighted to serve as the assistant principal at Leaphart Elementary. I am a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina and Columbia College. I have Master’s degrees in Elementary Education, Divergent Learning, and Educational Leadership. I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education for  curriculum and instruction from Capella University. Before entering administration two years ago, I served proudly as a classroom teacher for 9 and ½ years, teaching grades grades 3-6.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, writing, and taking long walks with my dog. I have a 7 year old daughter and love viewing the world of education through her lens. I am honored to work in partnership with South Carolina ASCD to build my capacity and further the mission of the organization.  As Simon Sinek said, “leadership is not a license to do less; it is a responsibility to do more.” I humbly and graciously look forward serving our faculty, students, parents, and community as an Emerging Leader.

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Shasta Looper
Greenville County Schools

Shasta Looper is a national award winning elementary educator from Greenville, SC.  Over the last 17 years, while teaching grades 2-5, Looper has been named Distinguished Reading Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year at her school, paving the way for her to be honored with the Milken Educator Award in 2012 in recognition for her innovation within the classroom and her ability to build lasting relationships with students and parents.

Shasta’s enthusiasm for the education profession is evident in her classroom and her work with teachers as she plans exciting opportunities for students to experience learning in creative ways. She is an active presenter at local and state level conferences where she shares best practices in literacy, how to integrate technology effectively, and how to build relationships with students.

Currently, Shasta serves as a literacy coach in Greenville County as a part of the OnTrack Greenville initiative with Public Education Partners.  In this role, she collaborates with teachers to plan engaging lessons, analyze student work, and to meet the needs of all students through differentiation and the use of literacy strategies.

Outside of school, you can often find Shasta at the library checking out stacks of books, spending time with her husband, Cheney, and playing with her two dogs, Ruby and Taku.

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Thomas McAuliff
Greenville County Schools

Mr. Thomas McAuliff has been a teacher for six years in the Greenville County School District. During this time, he has taught grades three and five.

He received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from North Greenville University, and obtained his Masters of Education in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University.

He has a passion for teaching both students and teachers. Thomas incorporates technology daily into his classroom along with creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking for his students. He has presented at numerous conferences including the Upstate Technology Conference in Greenville, SC and Piedmont Educator Renewal Conference (PERC) in Athens, GA.

He also enjoys mentoring and coaching teachers to be the best champion they can be for their students! He is a Promethean Master Educator, GoNoodle Ambassador, and a Certified Google Level 1 and 2 Educator. Thomas is delighted to join the 2017 SCASCD Emerging Leaders cohort in hopes to celebrate and strengthen the greatest profession in our state!

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Marsha Neal
Hardeeville-Ridgelan Middle School

Marsha Neal is a 6th grade math and science teacher at Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School in Hardeeville, SC, where she has taught since 2013.

She started her teaching career in the state prison system in Michigan and then transferred to the federal prison system, teaching GED classes.

In 2007 she moved to South Carolina and taught at Allendale Elementary, then in 2012 she helped open Royal Live Oaks Charter School as the K-3 Team Leader.  

Marsha earned the title as Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year and is currently finishing up her National Board Certification.

Ms. Neal is currently a state finalist for the PAEMST award in science, and was a finalist in the National Museum of Mathematics- Rosenthal Prize and a semi-finalist for the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame this year. Neal received a BA degree from Olivet Nazarene University (IL) in Elementary Education in 1993, an MA degree from Eastern Michigan University (MI) in Curriculum K-12 in 2000, an AAS degree in Corrections/Criminal Justice from Jackson College (MI) in 2003 and her M.Ed. degree from the University of South Carolina (Columbia) in Educational Administration in 2011.

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Reggie Wicker
Newberry Elementary School

Reggie Wicker currently serves as the Principal of Newberry Elementary School in The School District of Newberry County.  He received his Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from Newberry College and his Masters of Science degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Scranton.  He is currently pursuing his Ed.D in Educational Administration and Leadership from Walden University.

Upon graduating from Newberry High School in 1989, he enlisted in the South Carolina Army National Guard and served for eight years.  He began his career as a bus driver in The School District of Newberry County and drove for nine years.  After receiving his certification, he served as a fourth grade teacher, Parenting Coordinator, Assistant Administrator and now Principal.

Reggie is dedicated and passionate about growing young educators. He has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Education as well as the first Collaborator for the Call Me MISTER Program at Newberry College. He is currently providing workshops to student teachers that offer techniques and support the importance of building positive and meaningful relationships within classrooms.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and experiencing new adventures.