Staff profiles

McGregor Preschool staff members are dedicated, experienced, and educated professionals, committed to providing the best possible preschool experience for your child.

  • hedda bell

    Hedda teaches five-day 3-year-olds with Jill Brown. She was a substitute teacher for McGregor and also completed her final field placement here for the Midlands Technical College degree in early childhood education. She has worked in childcare for 10 years. Hedda has been married to John Mark for nine years. Their son, Nicholas, attends Oak Pointe Elementary, and their daughter Zoe attends the five-day 4-year-old preschool program at McGregor. Hedda and John Mark recently added a 6-year-old foster child, Haley, to their family. Hedda enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her family.

  • Jill Brown

    Jill teaches five-day 3-year-olds with Maureen Taylor. She has been a long-term sub at McGregor for many years. Jill graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of science degree in sociology. She has lived in Irmo all her life and is married to Robby, who is in the military and works for PABA. They have two children, Kaitlyn and Parker, who are students at Ballentine Elementary.

  • BARBARA BURK

    Barbara teaches both the 3-day and the 2-day 1-year-old classes. She has two boys, Ryan and Derek, who attended preschool here. Barbara has worked at LaPetite and Sunshine House and was a nanny when she lived in New Jersey. She has lived in South Carolina for 15 years. She enjoys running, art, and reading.

  • AMY CARTER

    Amy teaches two-day 1-year-olds with Barbara Burk. She started at McGregor as a substitute during the 2014-15 school year. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and has a degree from the University of Kentucky. She has been living in Columbia for the last four years with her husband, Mike, and two children. Her son is a graduate of McGregor Preschool, and her daughter currently attends the preschool.

  • SUSAN DICKERSON

    Susan teaches five-day 2-year-olds with Lynne Medlock and has taught at McGregor since 1988. She and Lynne have been a successful team for 14 years. Susan is from Spartanburg, attended USC-Spartanburg and has two children, Matt and Megan. Susan is also the proud “MiMi” to Elizabeth Scott and Fin.

  • joanie drozd

    Joanie teaches the three-day and two-day 1-year-olds with Barbara Burk. She is a Charleston native and met her husband while teaching in Columbia. They have three grown children. Joanie has been a substitute teacher at McGregor for several years and loves children. She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and previously served as a full-time teacher.  

  • Leah Eckstrom

    Leah teaches in the 5 day 4's with Karen Fields. She has been a substitute at McGregor for many years and has worked with multiple age groups. She has a BA degree from USC and is currently seeking a master's degree as an Educational Specialist. She is from Irmo and enjoys being with her family, including her two nephews that attend the preschool.  She also enjoys reading, running, yoga, and being near the water.

  • SUZANNE ECKSTROM

    Suzanne teaches three-day 3-year-olds and two-day 2-year-olds with Miriam McKinney. She has worked with preschoolers for over 30 years. She graduated from Irmo High School and has a bachelor of science degree from the University of South Carolina. A lifelong resident of the Irmo area, Suzanne and her husband, Dan, have three children, a wonderful daughter-in-law, antwo grandchildren.

  • KAREN FIELDS

    Karen co-teaches the five-day 4-year-olds with Leah Eckstrom. She began teaching at McGregor in 1999. She has a B.A. in elementary education from Augusta College (now known as Georgia Regents University). After graduation, she taught in the Reading Recovery Program for first through fifth grades at Wheeless Road Elementary School in Augusta, Georgia. She is married to Curtis Fields, a USC School of Engineering graduate. He is employed with AREVA. They have called Irmo home for 35 years. They have three grown children, Justin, Ali and Hayden, who are McGregor "graduates." In her spare time, she enjoys looking through cookbooks for new ideas in the kitchen, gardening, and trips to the beach!

  • JENNY GANTT

    Jenny is the associate teacher in the 5-year-old kindergarten class, and she has taught at McGregor since 1985. She has a degree from the University of South Carolina, and she worked for the federal government for 10 years before coming to McGregor. Jenny is married and has a son, Justin, who earned his Ph.D. from USC and works as a senior research engineer for Exxon/Mobil in Houston, Texas. She also has a daughter, Amanda, who has a Ph.D. in math education. Amanda is a professor at James Madison University in Virginia and is married to Dan Sawyer. Jenny enjoys visits with her children and evenings eating out with friends.

  • KATHERINE KECKEISEN

    Katherine is the business manager for McGregor Preschool. She taught at the preschool from 1995 to 2008 in various age groups. Katherine graduated from USC with a B.S. degree in early childhood/elementary education. She and her husband, Tom, have two boys. Katherine is a member of Union United Methodist Church in Irmo. Her family loves playing tennis and being outdoors.

  • Alex Manley

    Alex is thrilled to teach Science this year! She is working toward finishing her degree in education at USC. She has a background in exercise science and physical therapy. She also has 12 years of experience working with children. She is excited about sharing all the experiments and lessons with the 4's and 5's this year.

  • Chris Manley

    Chris is the Spanish teacher for the 4's and 5's and has previously been known as "Senora Manley" since teaching Spanish for Kids at McGregor from 1999-2008. Chris has a BA degree from Converse College in Early Childhood Education.  She has also traveled to Chile and Bolivia to learn all about the language and culture of South America. She and her husband, James have five daughters and eight grandchildren, all of whom have benefited from the church and preschool.

  • RHONDA MARINO

    Rhonda is the director of McGregor Preschool. She started at McGregor in 1985. She has taught kindergarten, first grade, and preschool. She has a masters of education in early childhood education from the University of South Carolina. Rhonda also teaches early childhood education classes as an adjunct instructor for Midlands Technical College and is a master trainer for South Carolina continuing education. She is married with two sons: Russ, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Brad, who lives in Columbia. She enjoys running, reading and photography.


  • MIRIAM MCKINNEY

    Miriam teaches three-day 3-year-olds and two-day 2-year-olds with Suzanne Eckstrom. She graduated from USC with a B.S degree in business. Originally from the Upstate, she has lived in Irmo for over 35 years. She is married to Stan, and they have two boys, Brock and Austin.

  • LYNNE MEDLOCK

    Lynne teaches five-day 2-year-olds with Susan Dickerson. She started teaching at McGregor in 1995. She has a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, where she met her husband, Joe. They have three children – Hannah, a chemistry teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee; Hunter, who lives in Columbia; and Erin, a ninth grader. Her family enjoys the beach, playing tennis and snow skiing.


  • KAren Murrell

    Karen is a Columbia native and graduate of USC where she earned a Master's degree in Education. She is married and has one daughter studying at Clemson University in graduate school. She loves rescue dogs, art, leading Bible Study. Karen paints semi-professionally here in Columbia and considers teaching art at Mcgregor a privilege and blessing.

  • LISA RASNICK

    Lisa teaches five-day 4-year-olds with Maureen Taylor. She began teaching at McGregor in 2002. She holds a B.S. degree from California State University at Northridge. Lisa has a house divided, with one daughter at Clemson and one at USC. She enjoys scuba diving, cross stitching and reading.

  • PAIGE SMOAK

    Paige returned to teaching in 2007 after staying home to raise her children. She is a former first grade teacher and teaches the kindergarten class at McGregor. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of arts degree in early childhood education and a master of education degree in reading. She has been married to her husband, Brad, for 32 years and has four children. Their oldest daughter, Hayley, graduated from the University of South Carolina. Second daughter Lenlee attends USC as a senior. Son Cole is an up-and-coming musician, and her youngest daughter, Reece, is a senior at Irmo High School. Paige has been a member of McGregor Presbyterian Church since 1994 and has served as a Sunday School teacher and youth leader. In her spare time, she enjoys watching high school and college football and spending time with her family and friends.

  • Philip Strickland

    Philip has lived locally for 10 years serving as a worship leader for several churches in the area. He is passionate about music and loves working with children. Philip and his wife, have two girls enrolled in the preschool. He is glad to serve the children and help reveal the wonderful world of music. 

  • MAUREEN TAYLOR

    Maureen is the co-teacher for the five-day 3-year-olds with Lisa Ransack. Maureen has taught at McGregor since 2002. She is married to Mark, and they have three children and one grandson, Will. Maureen moved from Forest Hills, New York, to attend the University of South Carolina. Go Gamecocks!