Educators in every role seek continuous improvement but are often limited by cost, inconvenience, and a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. CarolinaCrED delivers a range of customized supports for capacity-building that accelerate opportunities for professional learners and leaders.


Anchored at South Carolina’s flagship university, CarolinaCrED (formerly Office of Educational Outreach/OEO) has proudly served educators for two decades. Our CarolinaCrED CORE work originated to meet the demand of districts for the traditional building blocks of professional learning: flat-rate courses, customized degree programs, add-on certifications, and endorsements. A new menu of mCrED options expands those offerings to keep pace with what districts need: strategies to personalize educator learning without losing alignment with state and district priorities.

CarolinaCrED offers the most comprehensive personalized professional learning experience in the state featuring micro-credentials that address the SCTS 4.0 indicators. A library of content area micro-credential stacks, developed by SC educators for SC educators, continues to expand in content areas (e.g., literacy, mathematics, science, and special education) as well as special topics (e.g., whole child education, multi-tiered system of supports, and collective leadership). We also deliver two programs designed to address the state’s persistent educator recruitment and retention challenges: CarolinaCAP and CarolinaTIP.


Leadership Team


Cindy Van Buren has been a SC educator since 1988. She has previously served as the Deputy Superintendent for the Division of School Effectiveness for the South Carolina Department of Education, the Chair of the Department of Education at Newberry College, the Director of Teacher Education at Winthrop University, and as a high school administrator and teacher at Rock Hill High School. Since joining the staff in the College of Education at USC in 2015, she has dedicated her work to building and maintaining partnerships that improve the lives of teachers, students, schools and districts in SC.


Marie Cook possesses over 30 years of experience in the field of education. Prior to working at the University of South Carolina, she served as Student Services Coordinator with the Satellite Educational Resources Consortium (SERC). In this role, Marie provided technical and customer service assistance to schools, administrators, teachers and students of partnership members who received instruction through satellite learning. Marie also served as a classroom teacher for over 10 years. She taught business courses at Midlands Technical College and Mansfield Junior College. She served as advisor to students enrolled in FBLA student organization. During her tenure at USC, Marie has been honored with the STAR Award in the College of Education in 2016 and the Outstanding Job Performance Recognition in the College of Education in 2013. Marie enjoys helping educators reach their goals by providing personalized learning opportunities.


Tria Grant has been a South Carolina educator since 2001 and is a former elementary and middle school teacher and interventionist. Tria worked as a Teacher-in-Residence and Program Director for the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA), where she focused on pre-collegiate services and induction and mentoring support. She also led educator effectiveness initiatives and support as an education associate at the S.C. Department of Education and District Evaluation Coordinator. She serves on the executive board and is the Director of Education for Hygiene for Humanity. Tria holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Winthrop University, as well as an M.Ed. in Instructional Design from Western Governors University. She oversees all aspects of CarolinaCAP in her role as program director.


Sheryl Horton serves as the Program Coordinator for Professional Partnerships and has worked for the University of South Carolina for 20 years. Prior to serving in this role, she served as the Student Services Coordinator for the Office of Educational Outreach. Sheryl is gifted at providing customer service assistance to schools, administrators, teachers, and students throughout the state of South Carolina. During her tenure in the College of Education, Sheryl has been honored with the 2013 Hidden Gem Award. She demonstrates a service mentality daily and thrives on helping educators enjoy the benefits of deep partnerships.


Stephanie Martin is a seasoned public relations professional with experience in the nonprofit, government, utilities, and higher education industries. Her communication skills have been honed through positions with United Way, the state’s electric cooperative association, and Clemson University youth development programs. She has collaborated to win multiple ADDY awards and a Best of Show from the American Advertising Federation, in addition to several accolades from United Way of America and the Southern Public Relations Federation. Stephanie also taught in the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications as an adjunct instructor for 6 years. She is now working with the CarolinaCrED programs — CarolinaCAP, CarolinaTIP, mCrED and CarolinaCrED CORE — to tell the many stories of educator successes.


Elizabeth is a former instructional coach who began her education career in 2005. She is passionate about building a collaborative culture in schools, equipping teacher leaders, and fostering professional learning and growth. A graduate of the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Elizabeth is also National Board Certified in Early Adolescence: English Language Arts and has a master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has supported teachers through learning communities to create opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Through CarolinaCrED, she is excited to continue building teacher capacity and leadership among South Carolina educators.


Nicole Skeen is an educator, coach, consultant, trainer, speaker, and program developer with a passion for facilitating the professional growth and individual success of teachers. She served as a middle school teacher, instructional coach, induction coordinator, professional development leader, and adjunct instructor at the University of South Carolina before joining the College of Education faculty full-time. In 2017, Skeen became the college’s founding director of the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP). CarolinaTIP is an innovative and groundbreaking program designed to help teachers persevere and thrive in the profession. As the director, Skeen has led the development and implementation of a proven and award-winning coaching and support model specifically designed to meet the evolving needs of novice teachers by addressing educator-identified and research-based factors of teacher attrition.

Program Teams

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Fresh Perspective on Sustainable Change for Systems and Schools

Mira Education is a design and implementation partner that co-creates systems change in districts and other education organizations. We use our insight and expertise in collective leadership as the key to unlocking sustainable, systemwide improvement in school systems and organizations.


Alesha Daughtrey serves as Executive Director & Partner at Mira Education, where her work focuses educator-led change across P20 systems. Since joining the organization in 2009, she has supported more than 50 partnering teams to develop professional learning and support models, design leadership and career pathways for educators, and strategically integrate competency-based learning as a component of both. Alesha holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Duke University and a B.A. in English and secondary education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Lori (she/her) leads efforts that include designing and implementing collective leadership structures, rethinking how students engage in their learning, and redesigning how time in school is structured. She has 25 years of teaching experience and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence (EA) Science. Prior to joining Mira Education, she designed and helped bring into form the Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy, a collaboratively led school where she served as co-lead teacher for three years.

Iesha (she/her) is a fourth-generation educator who is a strong advocate for the success of all students and teachers. She holds three degrees including a Master of Education from Concordia University-Texas with a Principal Certification. During her time in the classroom, she served as a high school AP English teacher and an adjunct English instructor at a community college. She has designed and delivered professional development, written district level curriculum, and coached a humanities department through two academic years. Prior to joining Mira Education, Iesha served as an Implementation Manager for a nonprofit ed tech company, serving as advisor and thought partner to districts and schools using new approaches to support instruction.