How We Serve
Within the seven states and the District of Columbia that comprise the Columbia Union Conference, more than 450 educators instruct and pray daily with our students, spanning from early childhood through university. Our MISSION at the Columbia Union Conference Office of Education is to nurture, support and facilitate the journey to excellence in education as we pursue a lifelong encounter with Christ. The Columbia Union Conference education system is part of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and the worldwide General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The Office of Education is wholly committed to advancing the cause of Seventh-day Adventist education throughout our field. We assist in the formulation of system policies and provide mission-driven strategic consultations in areas such as program development, school accreditation, professional growth, and teacher certification.
The Columbia Union Conference education system consists of 25 pre-schools/centers, 51 PreK-8 schools, 13 K-10 schools, five 9-12 schools, four PreK-12 schools and two institutions of higher education—Kettering College in Kettering, Ohio, and Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. Total enrollment is nearly 9,000.
The Office of Education, directed by Donovan Ross, PhD., vice president for Education, functions to serve the diverse needs of Early Childhood Programs and the K-16 education system of Columbia Union.
About Donovan Ross
Donovan Ross, vice president for Education, has more than 30 years of teaching and administrative experience, including 21 years in the Columbia Union. He served as vice principal at Spring Valley Academy in Centerville, Ohio, and the former Garden State Academy in Tranquility, N.J. Ross has also taught at the college and elementary levels at various schools across the United States and in Jamai
Dr. Ross says what he most enjoys about education is the students, their energy, enthusiasm and infectious joy. “[I enjoy] helping them have a personal encounter with Jesus and equipping them to become more productive citizens of this world,” he says.
Ross holds a PhD in educational administration and supervision from Andrews University (Mich.), a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction from Atlantic Union College (Mass.), and a bachelor’s in mathematics from Northern Caribbean University (Jamaica).
Getting in Touch
Office of Education
Telephone: (410) 997-3414 or (301) 596-0800
Fax: (301) 596-6758
Vice President for Education: Donovan Ross
Office: ext. 550
Associate Director for Secondary Education: Jacqueline Messenger
Office: ext. 554
Jacqueline Wheatley Messenger has served in education with notable excellence in the Columbia Union Conference for more than 30 years. She has accrued all that experience as a teacher, principal for Spencerville Adventist Academy, associate superintendent, and superintendent for the Chesapeake Conference.
Jacqueline was born and raised in Cambridge, MD. She spent her formative years outside Cambridge on her family’s farm which is bordered by LeCompte Creek. She enjoyed growing up in the country, where her heart is still. Jacqueline is the youngest of three siblings for whom her parents sacrificed much in order to send all three to Shenandoah Valley Academy and then onto various Seventh-day Adventist colleges. So much so that her Dad worked two jobs tirelessly.
Jacqueline attended Columbia Union College and graduated with a B.S. degree in education. She met and married her husband, Tom, her senior year. Later Jacqueline completed her M.A. in educational administration from Hood College in Frederick, MD. The Messengers have four adult children.
In October of 2016, Jacqueline joined the Columbia Union Conference as the Associate Director for Secondary Education. Since her passion is leadership, Jacqueline loves to help principals develop their skills in that area.
Associate Director of Elementary Education: Ileana Espinosa
Office: ext. 552
Born to dedicated Seventh-day Adventist workers, Oscar and Ella, who dedicated 40 plus years each to serving the church they loved.
Ileana knew from very early on that teaching was what she really wanted to do and so began a pursuit of academic excellence for her. Ileana attended Atlantic Union College and then went on to finish at Universidad Adventista de Centroamerica in Costa Rica. She completed a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and an Ed.S in Administration and Leadership both from La Sierra University. Ileana has taught elementary, secondary, and college courses. She served as an associate superintendent for 14 years in the Central California Conference. She believes wholeheartedly in Seventh-day Adventist Christian education and is passionate about spreading the word on how it shapes lives for Eternity.
Ileana is married to Ernesto, who currently serves as a pastor to the Iglesia Adventista Renacer, Allegheny East Conference. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. Ileana is an avid reader and soccer enthusiast. She enjoys traveling as well as spending time with her family.
Associate Director for Early Childhood Education: Alison Jobson
Office: (410) 997-3414, ext. 556
Alison Jobson joined the Columbia Union Education Department in 2019 as the Associate Director for Early Childhood Education. She has worked extensively in the field of education as a classroom teacher, an associate superintendent and a superintendent in the Ohio Conference. In her last assignment Alison served as a vice principal.
Ms. Jobson was born in Missouri, and raised in Ohio, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Central State University (HBCU). Jobson then graduated from the University of Dayton with a master's degree in Educational Leadership. She is the eldest child of six siblings, and the mother of a lovely young lady, Alivia. Alison’s passion for the processes of teaching and learning was identified early on—proudly following in the steps of her maternal grandmother.
Alison’s specific educational interests include promoting early childhood education, facilitating teacher professional development, implementing high-quality curriculum and evaluating/assessing response-to-intervention strategies.
Assistant Director/Certification Registrar: Dawn Thompson
Office: ext. 555
Mail: 5427 Twin Knolls Road, Columbia, MD 21045
Dawn Thompson has worked more than 15 years as the school registrar at Spencerville Adventist Academy (SAA) in Maryland. Prior to serving at SAA, she worked in the treasury department at the Columbia Union Conference for approximately 4 years.
Dawn has two adult daughters. Her eldest child is a teacher in the state of Maryland, and her younger daughter is married and completing her master’s in occupational therapy in the state of Florida.
Her hobbies include thrifting, Do It Yourself (DIY) projects, drawing, painting and travel. She also enjoys Mexican food as her favorite cuisine.
Administrative Assistant: Jennifer Wakefield
Office: ext. 551
Jennifer Wakefield is your point of contact for general questions relating to the Columbia Union Office of Education.
With more than 16 years serving as their Administrative Assistant, Wakefield enjoys all aspects of her job. Her favorite roles include planning events for the Office of Education and helping those that call or stop by her office. Wakefield earned a Bachelors of Science in Journalism/Mass Media from Andrews University.