Colleton County School District announces three candidates for superintendent

Colleton County News

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Colleton County School District Board of Trustees announced on Friday three finalists for school superintendent.

The finalists include Dr. Vallerie Cave, Dr. Eric Thomas, and Dr. Lana Williams.

You’ll have the chance to meet all three candidates during a community forum on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in the Colleton County High School gymnasium.

While the district says members of the public will be allowed to join this in-person event, COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced, including wearing face masks, a temperature check at the door, and social distancing. There will be a 300-seat max for the event.

Those who cannot attend the community forum will be recorded and uploaded to the district’s YouTube channel.

Anyone who wishes to submit a question for the candidates can fill out an online form – by clicking here – before noon Monday, May 24th.

The questions will be presented by forum moderator and Colleton County School District 2020 Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Bunton.

MEET THE CANDIDATES

(Bios provided by Colleton County School District)

Dr. Vallerie Cave is an educator of 33 years. She has proven leadership for, directed, implemented, managed academic programs, principals, teacher leaders and teachers. She received her BS Degree from Baptist College at Charleston and her Master’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in
Early Childhood Education.

Cave earned her Doctorate Degree from Walden University in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Studies. She has served as an assistant principal, curriculum specialist, program supervisor, curriculum director, principal, and executive director.

Additional leadership preparation includes the Executive Leadership Institute at Harvard
University and the American Association of Schools Administrators National Aspiring
Superintendents Academy.

Dr. Cave has served as the Director of Consulting Services and Vice President of Business Development for the International Based Edu Tone Corporation and Information Transport Solution focusing on technology, data analysis and strategic planning. Her work at Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana speaks to her capacity to transform intention into reality in numerous school districts.

She currently serves as the Associate Superintendent for K-12 School Transformation and
Innovation for Savannah Chatham County Public Schools where she leads and supervises the
district’s most challenging schools in Leadership and School Improvement.

Under her leadership, 83 percent of her schools have been removed from the state underperforming list and changed state identifications due to increases in student achievement. She is a proven expert in School Transformation and Leadership Development. She has led two of her schools to the National Green Ribbon Award Recognition. She is a member of the Grace Chapel AME Church
in Beaufort, SC where she serves as the musician and director of the Inspirational Choir.


Dr. Eric Thomas is a native of Georgia, He was born and spent most of his formative years in
Savannah (most of his family still resides there). After moving to Cincinnati, Dr. Thomas finished school and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. He then began his educational career as a high school social studies teacher in Cincinnati Public Schools.

During his 15+ years in the district, Eric was also a Principal, Turnaround Principal Coach, and Chief Innovation Officer. In his last role, as a member of the superintendent’s cabinet, he led the redesign of the district’s teacher development & evaluation system, launched innovative improvement initiatives, facilitated the development of new schools (including a Digital Academy and a
New Tech High School), and created an Aspiring Principal’s Academy.

In 2012, Eric joined the University of Virginia’s Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) School Turnaround Program. As the Chief Support Officer, he led the overarching approach on how to support districts across the country as they worked to transform their lowest-performing schools.

After nearly six years at the University of Virginia, Dr. Thomas was selected to become Georgia’s first Chief Turnaround Officer. Per state legislation, Eric reported directly to the State Board of Education and was responsible for creating and executing an innovative support and accountability model to improve the state’s lowest-performing schools. As intended by the legislation, along with improving outcomes for targeted schools and districts, innovations piloted by the Turnaround Office have the potential to impact improvement efforts statewide.


Dr. Lana Williams was born and raised in the southernmost part of Orangeburg County,
SC in the small town of Eutawville. She matriculated through the elementary and junior high
schools of Orangeburg County School District Three and is a 1989 graduate of Holly-Hill Roberts
High School.

In 1993, she graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and her teaching credentials from South Carolina State University. Because she is a life-long learner, she later went on to pursue a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC and received her Doctorate Degree from South Carolina State University in 2007.

Her passion for teaching and learning was immediately obvious and it soon became evident that a career in education was not merely a “job” but her calling.

Dr. Williams has served in various positions in the educational arena during her 28-year career,
beginning as a teacher at William J. Clark Middle School in the former Orangeburg Consolidated
School District Five. After six years as a classroom teacher, she accepted a position as Curriculum
Coordinator/Administrative Assistant at North Middle-High School in North, South Carolina
where she would later become the Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction.

While at North, Dr. Williams assisted the school in improving their report card rating from unsatisfactory to excellent in one school year as measured by the SC Department of Education. The school continuously garnered the award for having one of the highest SAT scores in the state and was also rated excellent-excellent on the school’s report card for five consecutive years.

After serving at North Middle-High for six-years, Dr. Williams returned to William J. Clark
Middle as the Principal where she spent 10 wonderful years. While at William J. Clark, Dr.
Williams was able to restore the pride and legacy of being a Greyhound. The school received many
awards and honors during her tenure. From 2012-2015, the school received the Palmetto Silver
Award for closing the achievement gap between disaggregated groups and raising the academic
achievement of all students. The school moved from a rating of below average to good on the
school report card.

Under her leadership, William J. Clark was also named a SC Red Carpet School, a National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades School to Watch, and an inaugural member of the SC Transform SC initiative with the creation of the S.C.O.P.E. Academy, a school within a school that served middle school students.

After leading William J. Clark for ten years, Dr. Williams was promoted to the position of Executive Director of Secondary Schools in Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five and later moved to Orangeburg Consolidated School District Four where she served in the roles of Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent.

When the three former Orangeburg County school districts consolidated in 2019, Dr. Williams was named the district’s Chief Instructional Officer.

Presently, Dr. Williams serves as the Director of the Star Center for Learning, an alternative learning environment for middle school students. Dr. Williams has devoted her entire career to the faculty, staff, and students that she has been blessed to serve, and her primary goal is to do whatever she can to assist students in accomplishing any goal that their minds can conceive and to make teaching and learning a daily priority.

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