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Colleton County First Steps Welcomes New Executive Director

Colleton County First Steps says goodbye to Executive Director Cindy Dickerson and welcomes new Director Cindy Riley. Photo submitted

Colleton County First Steps, is a local non-profit that is a partnership with the state First Step Program and for the past six years has been under the leadership of Executive Director Cindy Dickerson. As Dickerson announces her retirement, the years she has spent building the First Steps Programs do not go unnoticed. “Most of my career has been working with government non-profit jobs,” Dickerson said, “My background strong points are in accounting and budgeting.” Dickerson has her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Dickerson, who is originally from St. George, S.C. has spent her career working with children, and the past six years have proved to be some of the most rewarding years in her career. For Dickerson, her favorite part of her job as Executive Director has been, “Working with the families and the children. Seeing the children learning something and seeing the experience of the parents interacting with them.” Dickerson said she also enjoys giving out children’s books, which are free to every child in Colleton County who wants to stop by the First Steps Office. Dickerson said that she and her husband have worked very hard to retire and have a lot of traveling plans for their future and she feels comfortable doing that because of her replacement, “The board and I feel like the best strategies are working in home with parents and children at the same time. I would love to see that expand and grow. I think that Cindy has the same outlook.”

Cindy Riley was recently announced as the new Executive Director of Colleton County First Steps. In June of this year, Riley retired from the Colleton County School District after 34 years of teaching and supervising. Riley holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Early Childhood Education, a Master’s Degree from USC in Early Childhood Education, and a Master’s Degree from the Citadel in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education.

Riley has spent the past 34 years in Colleton County as a teacher, assistant principal, and finally retiring as a principal, with all of the positions being held between Bells and Forest Hills Elementary. For Riley, her years as an educator were special when she could, “See in a child’s face when they learned or mastered a skill.” Of all of her positions in education, her favorite was, ”Being a classroom teacher,” Riley said. First Steps of Colleton County really focuses on getting children ready for when they go to school, with the focus on parents as teacher. They also work with childcare centers and provide training. “First Steps is all about school readiness,” Riley said, “It’s about working with the people who are actually working with the children to get them ready for school.” Riley said she is most excited about working with parents, who she formally taught and seeing them interact with their children. Riley also said she is excited about her new position, however she attributes the success of the program to the hard work that Dickerson has put into it. “I think she has done a wonderful job taking this program and basically making it into something,” Riley said, “I have big shoes to fill.”

 

Amye Stivender (218 Posts)