Joseph Almeida has joined the staff of Cross Schools in the role of Lower School Principal.

Almeida earned a Bachelor of Science in childhood development and learning with teacher licensure from Maryville College, a Master of Science in educational leadership, and an Educational Leadership Certificate from Buffalo State SUNY. He is nearing completion of his EdS Doctorate in educational leadership through Gordon College.

During his 17-year career, he has worked in public and private schools stateside and abroad. His experience includes serving as a teacher, coach and administrator in Tennessee, Brazil, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Almeida and his wife, Kathleen, have five children and live in Bluffton. 

Located in Bluffton, Cross Schools was established in 1998 as an independent Christian school. The school expanded to its Buckwalter Campus at 495 Buckwalter Parkway and serves more than 650 students in preschool through high school.

For more information, visit or call 843-706-2000.

Tom Gardo

Competing against political advertising creative teams from across America, Hilton Head Island’s Denarius Group took home one of the top honors at the 2022 Campaign & Elections Magazine’s Reed Awards in Nashville in May.

Denarius Group won “Best Newspaper Ad” for a print ad that appeared in the Hilton Head Sun and other publications, on behalf of Rep. Jeff Bradley’s re-election campaign.

The coveted Reed Awards are considered the Emmys of the political advertising world. The awards recognize the best work in a given year in a number of different media categories – from digital to broadcast to print.

“Winning an election is its own reward,” said Tom Gardo, founder and president of the Hilton Head PR firm, “but receiving recognition like this in an industry that’s so competitive is extremely gratifying.”

Named for Campaigns & Elections Magazine founder Stanley F. Reed, the annual Reed Awards are considered “the most exacting award in the political campaign industry,” celebrating the best achievements from the preceding year from both candidate, advocacy and grassroots campaigns.

Laurie Biggs, Heritage Academy teacher on Hilton Head Island, has been named the 2022 South Carolina Independent Schools Association Middle School Teacher of the Year.

She is the first Beaufort County-based independent school faculty member to earn Teacher of the Year honors since SCISA began awarding the annual honor in 1985. There are approximately 8,000 teachers under SCISA membership.

Biggs teaches middle school social studies, high school social studies, runs the academic support center, and the middle school enrichment program at Heritage Academy. Biggs’s knowledge and passion for education are legendary among Heritage students.

Biggs has more than 25 years of teaching experience, having worked at schools in California and West Virginia before coming to Heritage Academy in 2014. She holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in curriculum and instruction and ESOL from Shepherd University.

She was a Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms Fellow in 2012, where she shared her expertise with colleagues in India. She is a Certified South Carolina educator.