Wednesday, October 3


Dr. Stephen Hefner

2018 National Magnet Superintendent of the Year

This annual award recognizes the important work of leadership within our school districts to keep magnet schools a priority in the portfolio of school choice options. Dr. Hefner’s unyielding focus on expanding school choice by creating magnet options in District Five has been the catalyst for school improvement districtwide. Spanning nearly 30 years, Dr. Hefner has facilitated the creation of numerous magnet schools and programs in two South Carolina districts, many of which have been recognized by Magnet Schools of America as Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction, and achieved designation as Nationally Certified Magnet Schools. In District Five, Dr. Hefner has also helped school leaders secure two multi-million dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last fall.

Thursday, October 4


Dr. Baron Davis

Superintendent, Richland School District Two, South Carolina

An educator for more than 20 years, Dr. Baron R. Davis is Richland School District Two’s Superintendent. Davis served a transition year as the superintendent-elect prior to assuming leadership of the district in 2017. In one of his first tasks as Superintendent, the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, Davis lays out his vision for partnering with our families, staff and community to make Richland Two the premier school district. Read more…

Dr. Christina Melton

Superintendent, School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties, South Carolina

Christina Melton adopted an Emerson quote as her personal mantra when she became an education leader. “Do not go where there is a path. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Dr. Melton’s trail has been classroom teacher, school administrator, district administrator, and now, Superintendent in School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties. The schools she served earned various accolades and formed innovative community partnerships to support student achievement. South Carolina’s ETV recorded a documentary on Dr. Melton’s leadership as a case study and tool kit to assist other schools with transformation. As a district administrator, she and her team have created innovative instructional and professional development models which have attracted state and national attention. Dr. Melton believes in leaving a trail of academic excellence and community engagement. Read more…

Friday, October 5


Maree Sneed

Senior Counsel, Hogan Lovells

Maree Sneed is recognized in the education industry as a lawyer who helps school districts, independent schools, educational institutions, and educational companies solve their most complex problems. For three decades, clients have sought Maree’s advice as a result of her experience working in the education system, her legal acumen, her public policy work, and her ability to make connections between the education and legal arenas. Read more…

This powerhouse group’s discussion on the current legal landscape for magnets regarding diversity and school integration is not to be missed.

Dr. Baron Davis
Dr. Baron DavisSuperintendentRichland School District Two
Dr. Helen Nelson GrantChief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion OfficerRichland School District Two
Dr. Christina MeltonSuperintendentSchool District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties
Dr. Akil Ross2018 Principal of the YearNational Association of Secondary School Principals

Dr. Helen Nelson Grant

Chief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Officer

Richland School District Two

Dr. Helen Nelson Grant is the Chief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Officer for Richland School District Two. Dr. Grant earned her J.D. degree from Duke University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Columbia College. She has been a licensed attorney in South Carolina for over 30 years. She was previously a partner in a Columbia, SC law firm and she has served as “Of Counsel” to a law firms in Fayetteville, NC and Columbia, SC. Prior to joining the school district, Dr. Grant worked for the Nexsen Pruet law firm where she assisted them with recruitment, retention and diversity initiatives.

In her role in the school district, Dr. Grant is responsible for recommending, developing, implementing and managing programs and initiatives aimed at advancing diversity and multicultural inclusion. She serves as the chief advisor to the Superintendent in the development and implementation of diversity and multicultural practices and initiatives and she is the district’s chief spokesperson and district representative for diversity and multicultural matters.

Dr. Akil Ross

2018 National Principal of the Year, National Association of Secondary School Principals

Director of Secondary Education, School District of Lexington & Richland Counties

Upon graduation from Duke University, Dr. Akil Rossmoved to South Carolina, where he taught Social Studies for three years at Eau Claire High School. In 2005, he obtained his M.Ed. in Secondary Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina, and joined Chapin High School as an assistant principal in July of 2005. After 5 years as an assistant principal, he was named principal In July of 2010. In July of 2012, he completed his doctorate degree in Curriculum Studies from the University of South Carolina. Chapin High School has received many awards and recognitions under Dr. Ross such as Palmetto’s Finest, National Rankings in Academics, 14 State Championships in Athletics, 4 State Championships in Marching Band and 2 NJROTC State Championship including 1 National Championship Unit. Dr. Ross was named the 2017 SC Secondary Principal of the Year and 2018 NASSP National Principal of the Year. He and his wife Jocelyn live in Columbia and have two children, Alyssa (8) and A.J. (4).