Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

As Charleston County prepares to elect nine people to its school board, the nonprofit Charleston Forum is asking — what makes an effective school board member? 

Throughout the region, those elected to area school boards will shape education policy in the region for years to come. 

In the Charleston County School District, 32 candidates are running for nine seats as every school board position is on the ballot for the first time in recent memory. (See list below.) 

To help voters understand issues facing local schools, the Charleston Forum will host a two-part virtual forum on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 to discuss the qualities of an effective school board member.

Sept. 28: Education experts and advocates 

At noon on Sept. 28, the organization will virtually host a panel of trusted voices in the education community.

Jamie Devine, president of the South Carolina School Board Association, will join the discussion, along with the vice president and chief engineer for Boeing Global Services, Joan Robinson-Berry. She was recognized in 2019 by Black Enterprise as one of the most powerful women in corporate America. She serves on a number of community boards, with a particular focus on STEM and improving education outcomes. 

Ted Dintersmith, a Charleston resident, will round out the panel. Dintersmith has been a fierce advocate for education priorities. He is the producer of the film, Most Likely to Succeed, and the book, What School Could Be.  Dintersmith also leads a community platform that supports innovation at the school, district and state level.

The Sept. 28 event will be moderated by Neil Robinson, a lawyer at Nexsen Pruet law firm. Founder and past president of the Charleston Education Network, Robinson currently chairs  the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, an independent, nonpartisan group appointed by the legislature and governor to enact the South Carolina Education Accountability Act. 

Sept. 29: Teachers and educators

The Charleston Forum’s second event will showcase educators from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties at noon, Sept. 29.  

The panel will include: 

  • Shameka Washington, principal of Goose Creek High School in Goose Creek;
  • Heather Ducker, principal of Sedgefield Middle School in Goose Creek;
  • Andretta Manning, sixth grade math teacher and grade level chair at Simmons-Pinckney Middle School in Charleston; and 
  • Rev. Rhonda D. Heyward, a literacy interventionist at E. B. Ellington Elementary School in Ravenel and pastor of St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston

Hillary Flynn, editor of the Education Lab at the Post and Courier, will moderate the discussion.

32 running for Charleston County school board

Every race for Charleston County school board is contested in November:

District 1: Doyle Costello, and Keith S. Grybowski, both of Mount Pleasant.  

District 2: Grace Bouldin Cowan of Sullivan’s Island; Seana J. Flynn, Sarah Shad Johnson and Ed Kelley, all of Mount Pleasant; E.J. Milligan of McClellanville; and Elizabeth Moffly of Awendaw.

District 3: Chris Collins, Ashley Peele and Thomas Ravenell, all of North Charleston; and Pam McKinney of Charleston.

District 4: Kevin D. Hollinshead Sr. and Courtney Waters (incumbent) of North Charleston.  

District 5: Carlotte M. Bailey, Melissa Couture and Vivian Sheppard Pettigrew, all of North Charleston.

District 6: Erica Cokley (incumbent) of Johns Island; Lee Runyon and Eric Thorne, both of West Ashley; Samuel Whatley II of North Charleston.

District 7: Joy Brown, Jen Mieras, Sydney van Bulck, Leah A. Whatley, all of West Ashley, Charleston.

District 8: Travis Bedson of Wadmalaw Island; Helen Davis-Frazier (incumbent) of Meggett; Darlene Dunmeyer of Hollywood; and Doris Johnson of Johns Island.

District 9: Forrest Bjork, Graham Smith and Carol Tempel, all of James Island.

How to participate

To join the Charleston Forum for this free two-part event via Zoom, register here. For additional information, click here.  

The election is Nov. 9, 2022. You have until Oct. 9 to register to vote.

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