Leadership Team

Cassandra M. Bell

Instructor of Biology and Biology Teacher Education Supervisor

Program Coordinator
244 Dalton Hall
803/323-2111 Ext. 6448

M.S. in Biology, Winthrop University
B.S. in Marine Science, University of South Carolina
South Carolina Secondary Science Teaching Certification, Converse College

Areas of academic interest/specialty
General Biology with an emphasis on ecology / evolution
Science Teacher Education
Sex ratios of loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings on the South Carolina Coast (Master's thesis topic)

Biographical information
Ms. Bell grew up in Charleston, WV as an only child, where her parents both worked as professors at local colleges. She attended a diverse low-income high school where her teachers gave her a strong foundation in the math and language arts disciplines. Her parents were from Michigan and California, so travel was always part of her life. Her family valued spending time in nature, and she grew up visiting state parks in WV, staying in National Parks while driving across country, and playing on the beaches of Lake Michigan and the Pacific coast. This largely influenced her interest in the natural world and decision to attend the University of South Carolina with a major in Marine Science, although her foundation in the sciences was not as strong.

After working in research laboratories, both as a student at USC and after graduation, Ms. Bell felt drawn to science education. She completed her secondary teacher certification at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Still having a high interest in science content, Ms. Bell also pursued a Master's Degree in Biology at Winthrop University while teaching high school science. She completed her master's thesis research related to sea turtle hatchlings on the SC coast during the summers.

Prior to joining Winthrop Ms. Bell taught high school science at Fort Mill High School in Fort Mill, SC for six years and worked as a research technician at the Savannah River Ecology Lab for four years. She also enjoyed her brief time as an Environmental Educator for the University of Georgia at the Jekyll Island, GA 4-H Environmental Education Center immediately after obtaining her undergraduate degree. This experience taught her the true meaning of hands-on learning while leading students in classes on the beach, in the maritime forest and in the salt marsh; it also played a large role in her interest in science education as a career.

At Winthrop, Ms. Bell coordinates the biology teacher education program and advises and supervises all biology teacher education students. She also teaches the Methods of Teaching Science course to these teacher candidates. Additionally, Ms. Bell is the coordinator of Biology 150 and 151, which are the non-major biology courses at Winthrop and teaches sections of these courses, including an Honors section once a year. Ms. Bell enjoys the parallels of these two roles and often gets inspired from discussions with teacher candidates on ways to best teach biology content in her own biology classes.

Currently, Ms. Bell is a primary program director for the Winthrop's Initiative for STEM Education (WISE) program. Being a part of the WISE program is exciting to her, as she is passionate about both science and teaching; she is looking forward to working with WISE Scholars to ensure future exemplary math and science teachers.
During her free time, Ms Bell still enjoys spending time in nature. Now she does so primarily with her husband and two daughters.

Dr. Kelly M. Costner

Associate Professor of Education and Director of the SC Palmetto Program

Co-Principal Investigator
232 J Withers Building

Ph.D., The Ohio State University (Mathematics Education)
M.A., The Ohio State University (Mathematics Education)
M.A., The Ohio State University (French Literature and Culture)
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Areas of academic interest/specialty
Mathematics Education, English Language Learners, Program Evaluation

Biographical information
Dr. Kelly M. Costner, grandson of farmers and only child of a postal worker and stay-at-home mom, grew up in Cleveland County, North Carolina, attending small rural schools for all of his K-12 experience. After graduating as a first-generation college student from UNC-Greensboro in 1990, Dr. Costner taught mathematics and French at a rural North Carolina high school. He then pursued graduate studies in both mathematics education and French literature and culture at The Ohio State University. He returned to the Carolinas in 2000 to assume his first position as a teacher educator. He is married to Dr. Beth Greene Costner, also a mathematics educator and co-principle investigator for the WISE program. They live in the Rock Hill area.

Dr. Costner's postsecondary teaching has included mathematics methods courses for K-12 teachers, research methods for various populations, middle level assessment and pedagogy, foundations, and general methods for high school teachers. Dr. Costner has supervised teacher candidates in every grade level and in several subject areas. His research has focused on combining his interests and backgrounds in mathematics and foreign language education. Most recently he has worked to explore ways to help teachers in various content areas incorporate language-rich methods specifically to meet the needs of English Language Learners.


Dr. Beth Greene Costner

Dean, College of Education, Sport, and Human Sciences
Professor of Mathematics
Co-Principal Investigator, General Operations
106 Withers Building

B.A. in Education, Secondary Mathematics, University of Kentucky
M.S. in Education, Middle School Mathematics, University of Kentucky
Ph.D. in Mathematics Education, The Ohio State University

Areas of academic interest/specialty
Content for K-8 teachers, Teacher Preparation in Mathematics

Biographical information
Beth Greene Costner grew up on a dairy farm in rural Kentucky. Her father worked in a factory and mother was an elementary school teacher, both stressed hard work and the importance of taking advantage of opportunities in education. Dr. Costner now recognizes that she was fortunate to have a number of outstanding teachers throughout her public school experience and especially some wonderful high school mathematics and science teachers. Further, her parents and school provided her with access to supplemental experiences such as the Kentucky Governor's Scholar Program (http://gsp.ky.gov/) and extracurricular experiences at a local college similar to Winthrop about 40 miles from her home. However, her school would be considered high-needs and because of size and finances was not able to offer some programs that are now considered standard experiences for college-bound students. Because of the influences of her parents and high quality teachers she was ultimately able to reach her educational goals.

Dr. Costner completed her undergraduate degree and became a classroom teacher in 1992. The cost of her college education was primarily funded by a teacher grant program similar to the WISE program here at Winthrop. After teaching middle school mathematics for six years, she focused her efforts on working with prospective teachers in mathematics content courses and joined the Winthrop faculty in 2001. She has served as chair of the Department of Mathematics (2008-2013), Assistant Dean for Teacher Education Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences (2010-2011), Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences (2011-2015), and Associate Dean and Director of Student Academic Services in the College of Education, Sport, and Human Sciences (2015-2022). Currently she serves as the Dean in the RWR College of Education, Sport, and Human Sciences. Her professional work is centered on supporting the growth and development of students, faculty, college, university, and partnerships.

As one of the principle investigators of the WISE, Dr. Costner is working to recruit, retain, and support teachers in mathematics and science that are willing to teach in high need schools. Dr. Costner and her husband, also a Winthrop faculty member and WISE program faculty member, now live in York County. Since both are mathematics educators, they find much of their time is spent talking about mathematics and education with free time focused on travel and family.

The WISE program is currently seeking a new round of funding and was last funded by the NSF 15-530, Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program under award #1540690

Please consider making a gife to our foundation fund that supports projects and experiences not allowable in the grant funding. Visit: https://www.winthrop.edu/advancement/make-a-gift-coe.aspx and indicate: #1785 the WISE Program Fund.