Category : CCSD
A message from Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools:
Back-to-school is a time of new beginnings, from little ones walking into school for the first time to high school seniors quickly approaching graduation, as well as the new teachers and administrators, all eager to teach and inspire.
It’s also a time of memories, as each of us can remember a special moment in our years as a student, and many have memories from careers as educators. I remember my first day as an E.T. Booth Middle School teacher 30 years ago… armed with a textbook and a prayer.
If you have the privilege of working or volunteering in one of our schools, you’ll know that while much has stayed the same, school today in the Cherokee County School District offers children a wonderful new world of learning.
What’s stayed the same? Our core beliefs and practices.
We serve every child who walks through our doors and treat them each with respect and kindness. Despite our community’s growing affluence, 3 out of 10 students still qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Many come from homes where cupboards often are bare, and there is no air-conditioning to cool them off in August. For them, the first day of school means not only learning under caring adult supervision, but also a nutritious breakfast and lunch and a safe and healthy environment.
We begin the school day likely as you did as a child: with the Pledge of Allegiance and a quiet moment for every student and staff member to prepare for their day… some use this time for silent prayer, but it’s a choice left to students and their families. Our students today come from homes that speak more than 50 different languages, and with those varying backgrounds come different beliefs.
We are focused on teaching and learning. We put our classrooms first, and we spend the tax dollars you entrust to us there — not on inflated administration costs. This focus on the classroom allows us to attract and retain the most highly educated and experienced teachers and provide them with the best resources and professional development. We want to grow leaders who see their classroom as their ship, and the students as the most precious of cargo. Due to the strong support of our School Board, we’ve again lowered class sizes and adopted new districtwide math instructional resources (not just textbooks, but also online resources) to aid teachers in their lessons.
Character Education and community service projects in all of our schools teach children lessons that won’t be on a standardized test, but will be part of the test of life… and we want every student to master that knowledge, too. This school year, we’re not administering as many standardized tests, as our mindset is that testing, while an important tool, should never become more important than teaching. We also still believe in the importance of learning through play, with PE, recess, music and the arts a part of our schedules… and while we may teach children computer code, we also still teach them cursive handwriting!
We are dedicated to ensuring continuous improvement. Our average SAT score consistently tops National averages and ranks in the top five in the State of Georgia, and we’re among the top school districts in the U.S. for consistently high scores on the ACT and Advanced Placement exams. Not only do we provide our high schoolers with an extensive selection of AP and college-prep courses and a wide array of industry certification courses, we’re also increasing the high school-credit classes for middle schoolers.
Our goal of continuous improvement extends into all facets of our operations… our schools are safer than ever before, with upgrades underway now to add security foyers to further enhance visitor security, and every school is well-lit, clean and well-stocked with supplies. Our School Nutrition menus are being revamped to increase appeal, and our middle and high school bus routes have been separated in three more Innovation Zones.
We embrace change and welcome emerging technology. Our School District has made real school choice an option for every parent with our award-winning Cherokee Academies initiative. Thanks to our community’s ongoing support of our Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the Ed SPLOST, our schools offer children at every grade level outstanding access to technology to prepare them for successful futures. Our history of embracing technology also extends to improving your ability to learn about our operations and communicate with us… we hope you’ve checked out our new website at www.cherokeek12.net and all of our schools’ new websites, which are being updated daily.
We celebrate excellence. Our students and teachers amaze us every day, and we share their successes on every platform possible. At the same time, we are constantly reviewing our achievements to set our sights on higher accomplishments, as we know we can do better every day. We hope that you will join us… whether as a parent, a grandparent, a partner, a volunteer or an advocate. Together, we are “Educating the Emerging Generation!”