Winthrop Women's Coalition to Host Nov. 15 Education Panel

October 29, 2018

Quick Facts

bullet point The Nov. 15 panel discussion, which will be moderated by Jennifer Disney, chair of Winthrop's Department of Political Science and faculty liaison to the coalition, will be held at 7 p.m. in Winthrop's Plowden Auditorium in the Withers/W.T.S. Building.
bullet point The event is free and open to the public.

/uploadedImages/news/Articles/Laura-Mahony_Headshots-31-v5release.jpgLaura Mahony/uploadedImages/news/Articles/Rakestraw-Jennie1.gifJennie Rakestraw/uploadedImages/news/Articles/mcspadden.JPGKay McSpadden/uploadedImages/news/Articles/conner-hyatt.jpgMarty Conner Sr./uploadedImages/news/Articles/Tate.jpgPatti Tate/uploadedImages/news/Articles/earnest_winston_cms.jpgEarnest Wilson

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — Five educational leaders from Winthrop University, Rock Hill Schools, York School District I and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will discuss "Facing the Challenges of a 21st-Century Education" as part of the latest programming offered by the Winthrop Women's Coalition.

The Nov. 15 panel discussion, which will be moderated by Jennifer Disney, chair of Winthrop's Department of Political Science and faculty liaison to the coalition, will be held at 7 p.m. in Winthrop's Plowden Auditorium in the Withers/W.T.S. Building. The event is free and open to the public.

Winthrop First Lady Laura Mahony, founder of the coalition that was launched in March 2017, said that she is proud to have such a diverse panel of education experts on campus to share their perspectives related to challenges in today's education field. "We are excited to have these accomplished professionals, who are working on the front lines of education each day, together to share their experiences and insights," said Mahony. "Education is very important to members of the Winthrop Women's Coalition, as evidenced by the coalition's recent establishment of the Commencement Bridge Scholarship, which provides funds to Winthrop students who need the financial assistance in their senior year in order to finish their degrees. We are looking forward to hearing from this panel of leaders on the state of education in our local communities."

Panelists are:

Jennie Rakestraw

Rakestraw, dean of Winthrop's Richard W. Riley College of Education since 2008, has worked in the field of education for 38 years. She began her career as an elementary teacher in her hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, and then joined the faculty at Georgia Southern University after earning her doctoral degree from the University of Alabama. She served as associate dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern University for 15 years, worked on projects with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.  While in Georgia and at Winthrop, her focus has been on building partnerships between universities and school districts to improve educator preparation and to benefit teaching and learning in schools.  Currently, Rakestraw serves on several boards, including the Board of Directors of the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education. 

Kay McSpadden

McSpadden, an English teacher at York Comprehensive High School, has taught in high-poverty high schools in the rural South for 40 years. She also writes a regular op-ed column, often about her experiences as a teacher, for The Charlotte Observer, and has contributed to the NPR affiliate station, WFAE. She won the Norman Mailer Fiction Award in 2012, has won the Charlotte Writers Club Fiction award three times and was a finalist in the Tennessee Williams Short Fiction contest. In 2007, she published "Notes from a Classroom: Reflections on Teaching." In addition, she has published work in "Main Street Rag," "We Are Not This" and "Luck." She also has contributed a science fiction story to the anthology "Orphans in the Black." She is a 1976 and 1980 graduate of Winthrop.

Marty Conner Sr.

Conner is the principal of Rock Hill's South Pointe High School. He served as an assistant principal at Rawlinson Road Middle School before moving to Fort Mill School District where he led a redevelopment effort to establish an alternative program for at-risk students before being named the first principal of Banks Trail Middle School in 2009. He later spent two years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools where he oversaw the Northeast and Central Learning Communities. From 2015-18, Conner served as the associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Orangeburg Consolidated School District Three. He holds his education specialist and doctoral degrees from South Carolina State University.

Patti Tate

Tate, the 2012 S.C. Teacher of the Year, is the program coordinator for English and social studies at Rock Hill's Northwestern High School. With more than 28 years of experience, Tate also teaches the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition class and serves as the advisor to Olympians, an organization for senior leaders who serve as ambassadors for the high school. She earned a bachelor's degree in secondary English from Appalachian State University and a M.Ed. in English education from Converse College. She also is National Board Certified.

Earnest Winston

Winston is the chief engagement officer/ombudsman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He and his team are responsible for all district community and parent engagement efforts, the Ombudsman's Office and the district's cultural proficiency efforts. After two years in the classroom, he worked in central office administration as an executive coordinator/communications liaison for the chief operating officer and interim superintendent from 2008-12. He also was an external communications supervisor from 2006-08 and most recently served as chief of staff to two previous superintendents. He joined CMS in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High School after serving as a newspaper reporter in Cincinnati and Charlotte. Winston holds a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University.

About the Winthrop Women's Coalition:
The Winthrop Women's Coalition was founded on the idea that women's strength is at its best when women work together and that a relationship with the institution is mutually beneficial: the institution fosters the individual to succeed and the individual helps to support the institution. In the coalition, one will find a connection to other women of diverse personal and professional backgrounds, and opportunities for personal and professional enrichment while helping to contribute to the university's mission and philanthropic needs.

To learn more about the coalition, please visit

[Back to Previous Page]

Button ArrowALL NEWS