CCSD Welcomes The Wall That Heals to Arnold Mill Elementary School

CCSD Welcomes The Wall That Heals to Arnold Mill Elementary School

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Russ Johnson shows his grandson, Arnold Mill Elementary School third-grader Holden Turman, the name on The Wall That Heals of one of his fellow Marines he served with in the Vietnam War. The Wall, a 250-foot, half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is open to the public 24 hours a day until the display closes at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20.

NOTE: A recorded Facebook Live video from this morning’s ceremony is posted on CCSD’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CherokeeGASchools/

A large crowd of Vietnam War veterans and their families joined the Cherokee County School District in welcoming The Wall That Heals to Arnold Mill Elementary School today for its first-ever visit to the Woodstock community.

The 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., along with a mobile education center, is being displayed at the school by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund through 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20.  The display is open to the public 24 hours a day, with lighting to allow evening viewing.

The official welcome ceremony on Thursday morning featured keynote speaker, the Rev. Robert Certain, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who was held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

The Rev. Certain has served as a military chaplain, parish priest and as an independent advisor to several cabinet-level federal departments.  He also is an author and speaker, and has been called to such roles as leading the memorial services and presiding over the burial of President Gerald R. Ford and delivering the invocation at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

“When you look at a name, you see the name, but if you shift your focus just a little bit, you see your own face,” the Rev. Certain said in his remarks, as he spoke of the power of visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which The Wall That Heals replicates in a half-scale model.  “That’s a reminder, that’s why it draws us in, that’s why I’ve never seen anyone walk that path without touching it.  It brings us into it.”

“That’s part of the healing power of this Wall,” the Rev. Certain said, reflecting upon his own first visit to the Memorial and seeing the names of soldiers who he fought alongside.  “The fact that you can be one with that other person… because their lives are written across your body.”

During The Wall’s stay at the school, students from Arnold Mill and schools throughout CCSD will visit it and the mobile education center, which houses artifacts and displays, to experience a tangible reinforcement of the history lessons they learn in classrooms.

“What an impact this will have on them for their entire life,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said in her remarks at the welcome ceremony.  “And what an impact this display will have on the entire community…  for many a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans.  Some may seem names of loved ones, perhaps a brother, a father or a grandfather or even a friend who fought alongside you but didn’t come home.  This Wall helps heal those still broken hearts.”

The welcome ceremony also included patriotic songs by the school’s chorus and remarks from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Principal Daniel H. Fuller.  John Newport, Commandant for the Marine Corps League Detachment in Woodstock, shared a poem, with the colors presented by the River Ridge High School Junior ROTC and Taps played by Roger Spitz of Bugles Across America.

“When I walked The Wall this morning, I saw Sanchezes next to Schwartzes to Johnsons to Patowskis… people from all walks of life,” Dr. Hightower said.  “So to me, these names represent someone’s child, someone’s sibling, someone’s classmate, someone’s parent, someone’s friend, someone’s fellow soldier.  When we leave, may we depart with a sense of lasting gratitude for the heroes represented on this wall.  They paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

The Wall arrived on campus on Wednesday, escorted into Cherokee County by the Patriot Guard, Warrior Watch, Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and Woodstock Police Department.  It was welcomed onto campus by students, teachers, veterans groups and the CCSD School Police Department.  Donations from the school community are funding the event, and donations still are being accepted by the school.

First-grader Corbin Mahon cheered with his classmates as The Wall arrived at his school on Wednesday.

“It seems very exciting,” he said, as his classmates chanted “U.S.A.”  And he understands why The Wall is so special.  “The Wall honors the soldiers who died in the war.”

Principal Fuller said the experience has been an extraordinary one for everyone at the school.

“We love our veterans,” Principal Fuller said as The Wall arrived.  He wore a T-shirt that read “Heroes Don’t Wear Capes, They Wear Dog Tags,” which was made for school staff and volunteers for the event.  “This is about the veterans and showing our support.”

The Wall’s presence and the welcome ceremony were very much appreciated by veterans, Commandant Newport said.

“This was such an undertaking, and they did an awesome job,” he said of the school’s staff and volunteers.  “The kids who will see this… it’s just so meaningful.”

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Rev. Robert Certain, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who was held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, as keynote speaker for the welcome ceremony describes the design of The Wall and the significance of the order in which the names are inscribed.

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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower takes a moment of quiet reflection at The Wall before the ceremony begins.

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John Newport, Commandant for the Marine Corps League Detachment in Woodstock, shares a moving poem about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, left, and School Board Member Kelly Poole look at names on a panel of The Wall.

 

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Dozens of veterans and their families attend the welcome ceremony for The Wall.

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Arnold Mill Elementary School students line the parking lot and cheer the arrival on Wednesday morning of The Wall and its motorcycle escort by Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch members.

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Arnold Mill Elementary School students line the parking lot and cheer the arrival on Wednesday morning of The Wall and its motorcycle escort by Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch members.

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Arnold Mill Elementary School students line the parking lot and cheer the arrival on Wednesday morning of The Wall and its motorcycle escort by Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch members.

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A veteran stops to read one of the exhibits that line the exterior of The Wall That Heals truck, which transforms into a mobile education center.

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Principal Daniel Fuller, right, talks on Wednesday with Tim Tetz, Director of Outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, about the logistics of where The Wall will be assembled on the school grounds.


School Psychologists Share Insights About Their Role During School Psychology Awareness Week

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Category : CCSD

School Psychology Awareness Week is November 14-18.  The theme is Small Steps Change Lives, which, according to the National Association of School Psychologists, highlights how taking small steps can build greater successes and develop the academic and social-emotional skills students need to promote personal achievement, growth, and resilience, as well as a sense of belonging and wellbeing.

CCSD has a team of school psychologists who are assigned to various schools by zone.  While they work largely with our Special Education population, they assist any student who needs their expertise.  In celebration of School Psychology Awareness Week, we asked CCSD School Psychologists to share some insights into their unusual school district job:

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I really enjoy working with the students one-on-one and helping them understand the purpose of the testing we do. I explain that the testing we do helps us (the school team) to better understand how their brain works for learning. When we understand how their brain works, then we are better able to help them be successful in class.      –Hilda Ortiz, Hasty Elementary School and District-Wide Student Assessments

The most rewarding things about being a school psychologist are getting to collaborate with a variety of school staff members (speech-language pathologists, facilitators, occupational therapists, physical therapists, counselors, administrative staff, ESOL teachers, etc.) and being able to help teachers identify ways to encourage their students’ academic performance.  –Wendy Fuhrman, Teasley Middle School

The most rewarding aspect of working as a School Psychologist is the opportunity to make a difference early in the lives of students who struggle with academic problems, social issues, or controlling their emotions and/or behaviors.  I find it very rewarding to see students receive the supports needed to be successful in school and in life! Additional rewarding aspects of School Psychology are the varied tasks and ongoing challenges …..the profession is never boring!  –John Poidevant, Lead School Psychologist

The most rewarding part of my job is hearing a student say that they like school since they have received the help that they need. –Celeste Harrison, Dean Rusk MS and Sequoyah HS

What are your biggest challenges in your job?

While the time I am able to spend with children, families, and colleagues is what I find most rewarding, it can also be the most challenging aspect. Finding enough time in the day to spend with teachers and parents for consultation and problem solving, time for student observations, time for direct assessment with students, and time to attend ongoing trainings can make the work days, weeks, and months fly by as a school psychologist! — Julie Maxwell, Carmel Elementary and Boston Elementary.

Time is my biggest challenge.  Frequently, I am consulting with teachers and other school personnel on students for multiple schools and I feel it is important to listen and exchange ideas.  As the school psychologist, of course, testing is part of our role.  We complete observations.  We complete many meetings.  We have comprehensive reports, reviews, and other information that we write.  Managing time to get to all of these important roles can be difficult.  However, it is always interesting to work with teachers, staff, and parents to come up with a plan to help a student!  –Deborah Silberstein, Canton ES, Mountain Road ES, and County language proficiency screenings

What does your typical day look like?

My day is the never the same and that’s one of things I like about my job! I could either be in meetings or working with students anywhere from kindergarten to 8th grade!   –Kimberly Murray, Sixes Elementary School and Freedom Middle School

As a CCSD school psychologist, my day can vary so much, it’s hard to nail down a routine/typical day.  Just a few of the tasks I’m involved with on any given day include:  consulting with teachers and support staff to determine the best research based intervention to address a student’s area of weakness, 1-1 psychological evaluation sessions with a student, attending IEP meetings, and observations of students.   –Kim Nofi, Cherokee High School and RM Moore Elementary School

Why did school psychology appeal to you (more so than general practice)?

I changed my major about 5 times while in undergrad, always knowing that I wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure in what capacity. A professor introduced me to school psychology and I knew instantly that it was a perfect fit for me.  I enjoy working with students individually and from an education lens. It provides daily challenges that require me to think outside the box and from various perspectives. No two days are alike! Unlike most people, I really enjoy analyzing data, writing reports and organizing paperwork all in an effort to figure out how each individual student functions and then being able to apply it to their daily lives within the school setting. I always adored school when I was younger, so my mission is to try to help others have a successful and enjoyable school career despite their challenges.   –Laura Killen, Dean Rusk Middle and Holly Springs Elementary

I loved the idea of working with children on a daily basis and the variety of the tasks. Every day is always different and the kids say the greatest things!  –Lisa Palmer

Being a school psychologist appealed to me because of the diverse roles and responsibilities we have in the school setting. It is impossible to get bored or run out of things to do in this profession! Plus, children spend so much of their time in school; it is the perfect environment to help make a positive impact on their lives. –Megan Foster, Sequoyah HS and Tippens Educational Center

School Psychology appealed to me more so than general practice because of the broad scope of practice.  In private practice, psychologists tend to specialize and see children with a narrow range of problems or a specific set of disabilities.  Working in the public schools provides me the opportunity to play a small role in the academic success of children from diverse backgrounds who present with a wide-range of behavioral, emotional, and academic difficulties.  Being a school psychologist is a dynamic, intellectually stimulating job which requires flexibility and creative problem-solving.  I consult daily with parents, teachers, and administrators in an effort to prevent small concerns from turning into big problems.  The students are great, I learn new things every day, and there is never a dull moment!  –Sharyl Williams-Bandy, Clark Creek ES and Bascomb ES


CCSD Upcoming High School Drama, Academy Street Theatre Group Productions

Category : CCSD

Love comedy, drama and a little song and dance?

Cherokee County School District’s high school drama programs, as well as the Academy Street Theatre Group for all grades, regularly present performances that are open to the community… with affordable ticket prices.

Here’s the schedule for upcoming shows (please contact the individual school for more information):

Date School Show Showtime Admission
Thursday, Nov. 17 Creekview HS “Comedy of Errors” 7 p.m. $5
Thursday, Nov. 17 River Ridge HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” 7 p.m. $5
Friday, Nov. 18 Creekview HS “Comedy of Errors” 7 p.m. $5
Friday, Nov. 18 River Ridge HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” 7 p.m. $5
Thursday, Dec. 8 Etowah HS Fine Arts Extravaganza 7 p.m. Free; donation of canned good suggested
Friday, Dec. 9 Cherokee HS Drama-Special Education Production: “A Year without a Santa Claus” 7 p.m. Canned good or unopened toy
Friday, Jan. 13 Cherokee HS “Harvey” – A Comedy 7 p.m. $5
Saturday, Jan. 14 Cherokee HS “Harvey” – A Comedy 7 p.m. $5
Thursday, Jan. 19 River Ridge HS “Nooses Off” – A Murder Mystery Comedy 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Friday, Jan. 20 River Ridge HS “Nooses Off” – A Murder Mystery Comedy 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Saturday, Jan. 21 River Ridge HS “Nooses Off” – A Murder Mystery Comedy 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Monday, Jan. 23 River Ridge HS “Nooses Off” – A Murder Mystery Comedy 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Thursday, March 2 Creekview HS “Snow Queen” Musical 7 p.m. $5
Friday, March 3 Creekview HS “Snow Queen” Musical 7 p.m. $5
Friday, March 10 River Ridge HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “101 Dalmatians” 7 p.m. $5
Saturday, March 11 River Ridge HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “101 Dalmatians” 7 p.m. $5
Friday, March 17 Woodstock HS “Fiddler on the Roof” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Thursday, March 23 Etowah HS “Big Fish” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Thursday, March 23 Sequoyah HS “Guys and Dolls” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10; $8 advance; $5 students w/drama club card
Thursday, March 23 Woodstock HS “Fiddler on the Roof” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Friday, March 24 Cherokee HS “Legally Blonde: The Musical” 7 p.m. $10
Friday, March 24 Etowah HS “Big Fish” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Friday, March 24 Sequoyah HS “Guys and Dolls” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10; $8 advance; $5 students w/drama club card
Friday, March 24 Woodstock HS “Fiddler on the Roof” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Saturday, March 25 Cherokee HS “Legally Blonde: The Musical” 2 p.m. $10
Saturday, March 25 Cherokee HS “Legally Blonde: The Musical” 7 p.m. $10
Saturday, March 25 Etowah HS “Big Fish” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Saturday, March 25 Sequoyah HS “Guys and Dolls” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10; $8 advance; $5 students w/drama club card
Saturday, March 25 Woodstock HS “Fiddler on the Roof” Musical 7:30 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Thursday, April 20 River Ridge HS “Rock of Ages” Musical 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Friday, April 21 River Ridge HS “Rock of Ages” Musical 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Saturday, April 22 River Ridge HS “Rock of Ages” Musical 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Monday, April 24 River Ridge HS “Rock of Ages” Musical 7 p.m. $10; children 10 & younger free with paid adult
Thursday, April 27 Creekview HS “She Loves Me” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Friday, April 28 Creekview HS “She Loves Me” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Saturday, April 29 Creekview HS “She Loves Me” Musical 7 p.m. $10 adults; $8 students
Saturday, May 6 Cherokee HS “Leading Ladies” – A Comedy 7 p.m. $5
Sunday, May 7 Cherokee HS “Leading Ladies” – A Comedy 7 p.m. $5
Friday, June 2 Cherokee HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “Singin’ in the Rain” Musical 7 p.m. $5
Saturday, June 3 Cherokee HS Academy Street Theatre Group: “Singin’ in the Rain” Musical 7 p.m. $5

 


Ball Ground ES STEM Academy Reunites Military Dad with First-Grade Daughter in Veterans Day Surprise

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Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy first-grader Olivia Givens is surprised to be reunited with her dad, U.S. Army First Lt. Christopher Givens during the third-grade’s Veterans Day program. He just returned from serving for nearly a year in Afghanistan.

Watch the video here:

 

Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy’s Veterans Day celebration on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 honored one veteran in an extraordinary way.

After a small group of first-graders from onstage led the audience in The Pledge of Allegiance, a teacher asked if any of them knew a veteran.

Olivia Givens spoke up.

“My dad is in the war… in Kabul,” she said into a microphone that made her tiny voice a little bit bigger.  “It’s a far place away.”

Suddenly, a loud voice rang out: “Spartan!”

And across the stage marched a man wearing U.S. Army fatigues and a big grin.

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U.S. Army First Lt. Christopher Givens surprises his daughter, Olivia, during Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy’s Veterans Day program. She had not seen him since he departed nearly a year ago to serve in Afghanistan.

Speechless, Olivia looked on in awe.  It was her Daddy, who she missed so much for the past year that she slept with a “Daddy doll.”  A doll with a photo of her Daddy’s face, which her grandmother hears Olivia talk to every night as she falls asleep.

First Lt. Christopher Givens scooped her up in a hug, as the veterans, their families, students and teachers filling the cafeteria rose to their feet, clapping, laughing and crying.

“See you all later,” 1st Lt. Givens said, as he carried Olivia offstage… a smile on her face so wide it stretched from pigtail to pigtail.

The reunion was orchestrated by teachers at the school and Olivia’s grandmother, Judy Givens.

“If I could give her a special surprise, this would be one of them and to have her daddy hug her and tell her that he loves her,” Mrs. Givens said before the surprise reunion.  “Nannie and Paw Paw have waited what feels like a lifetime for this day… I can look down in those big blue eyes and say we gave her the best present she has ever wanted.”

For 1st Lt. Givens, who has served for 13 years including stretches in Korea and Egypt, this was his first long tour of duty away from Olivia since her birth.  After several months of train-up away from home, he headed to the NATO base at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served for nine months as a medical logistics officer and the person-in-charge.

After the shock of the reunion turned to hugs and kisses, Olivia had time to reflect on the surprise.

“When he came out, I was a little scared,” she said, wiping a few tears away on his camouflaged shoulder. “I’m happy now.”

First Lt. Givens said his “heart was racing,” too, as he stood behind the curtains awaiting his cue.

“I didn’t know what I was going to say, but she’s my little Spartan,” 1st Lt. Givens said, noting the Spartan nickname comes from the obstacle course races of the same name that also include children’s programs.  He looks forward to them racing together again soon.

Olivia has only one plan: “I want to stay with him forever,” she said, hugging his neck as tight as a little girl can.

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The Wall That Heals Displayed at Arnold Mill ES Nov. 17-20

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The 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center, is being displayed at the school by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

UPDATE: A Facebook Live video from the Wall’s arrival on Nov. 16, 2016 at Arnold Mill ES is posted on CCSD’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CherokeeGASchools/

A former Vietnam War POW will be the guest speaker at the welcome ceremony for The Wall That Heals at Arnold Mill Elementary School next week.

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The Rev. Robert Certain

The Rev. Robert Certain, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who was held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, will speak at the welcome ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.

The 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center, is being displayed at the school by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

The Rev. Certain has served as a military chaplain, parish priest and as an independent advisor to several cabinet-level federal departments.  He also is an author and speaker, and has been called to such roles as leading the memorial services and presiding over the burial of President Gerald R. Ford and delivering the invocation at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The welcome ceremony also will include patriotic songs by the school’s chorus and remarks from School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Principal Daniel Fuller.  John Newport, Commandant for the Marine Corps League Detachment in Woodstock, will share a poem, with the presentation of colors by the River Ridge High School Junior ROTC and the playing of Taps.

The Wall is scheduled to arrive on campus, with a Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch escort (Northpoint Parkway to Highway 92 to Trickum Road to Arnold Mill Road), at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16.  A media briefing is planned for 11 a.m., and the Wall then will be erected over the course of four hours.

Following the welcome ceremony on Nov. 17, the display then will be open to the public to view at no charge through 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20.  The school is at 710 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock 30188.

Donations from the school community are funding the event, and donations still are being accepted.

For more information about the Rev. Certain, visit his website: http://www.unchainedeagle.com

Here’s more information from the Memorial Fund:
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most visited memorial in our Nation’s Capital, with more than four million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as “The Wall.” The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization that built The Wall, wants to give all veterans and their family members all across America an opportunity to see the Memorial through The Wall That Heals display.

Since its debut in 1996, more than two million people have visited The Wall That Heals sites. The replica Wall is approximately 250 feet in length, and like the original Memorial is erected in a chevron-shape. The names on The Wall That Heals replicate the names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. As on The Wall, the names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty.

The exhibit also includes a mobile Education Center comprised of: photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall; letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in D.C.; a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam. The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.


CCSD Earns Top Media Specialist Recognition for 2nd Year!

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Macedonia Elementary School Media Specialist Jennifer Rice has been named to Georgia’s Top 10 Media Specialists in the State list.

A Cherokee County School District media specialist has earned a spot on Georgia’s Top 10 Media Specialists in the State list for the second consecutive year!

Macedonia Elementary School Media Specialist Jennifer Rice on Thursday was honored by the Georgia Library Media Association with recognition on the list.  Last school year, Woodstock MS Media Specialist Wendy Cope received this honor.

Ms. Rice is CCSD’s 2016 Media Specialist of the Year and in June was named the Regional Media Specialist of the Year for North Central Georgia by the Georgia Library Media Association and Georgia Association of Instructional Technology.

A graduate of Georgia College & State University, where she earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in education, Ms. Rice began her career as a classroom teacher before following her true calling to serve as a media specialist.  In addition to her traditional media specialist responsibilities, she also organizes the school’s reading bowl team, spelling bee and student news team.  Ms. Rice last school year was named to the Georgia Children’s Picturebook Award Committee for a three-year appointment.

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Ms. Rice, right, is congratulated by Woodstock MS Media Specialist Wendy Cope, who was named to the list last year.


Canton ES STEM Academy Wins Top STEM Education Award!

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: Celebrating the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools are, from left to right, Peter Gleichman of Partner in Education, the Rotary Club of Canton; and Canton ES STEM Academy STEM Education Specialist Dr. Judy Wright, Principal Beth Long and STEM Program Coordinator Emma Griffin.

Canton Elementary School STEM Academy has won the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools!

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and TAG Education Collaborative present annual awards to recognize “outstanding efforts and achievement in supporting and promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in Georgia” including one award to the most outstanding Elementary School for STEM education.

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This win, which was announced and presented during the STEM Education Awards ceremony on Friday at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta, follows Canton ES STEM Academy’s recognition last year as a finalist for a 2015 Georgia STEM Education Award.  Canton Elementary School STEM Academy is one of six Cherokee Academies in CCSD, a Nationally recognized innovative school choice program.

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Dr. Judy Wright speaks onstage as she accepts the award on behalf of the school.

“Congratulations to Canton Elementary School STEM Academy on this outstanding accomplishment recognizing it as a model of excellence for the State,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “This award recognizes significant work on the part of our teachers and leaders, as well as by students, families, volunteers and partners.  We’re especially proud to see a Title I school with many students whose parents speak English as a second language and/or who struggle financially receive such acclaim for the opportunities provided to every student.  The lesson plans and best practices incubated at this school are shared with staff throughout our School District and State.”

Principal Beth Long, STEM Education Specialist Dr. Judy Wright and STEM Program Coordinator Emma Griffin attended on behalf of the school; STEM Education Specialist David Cornn was unable to attend.  They were joined by Peter Gleichman of the Rotary Club of Canton, the school’s Partner in Education of the Year, which has provided significant financial and volunteer support to enhance the school’s STEM resources including construction of an AGUA Lab aquaponics lab and media center Makerspace.

“High-tech careers are some of the most in-demand and highest paying jobs in our country and the anticipated shortage of employees is staggering,” said Amanda Hendley, Chief Operating Officer for TAG. “Our 2016 STEM Education Award winners are the best of the best and are making a major impact on workforce development in Georgia.”

In addition to Canton ES STEM Academy receiving the Elementary School Award at Friday’s ceremony, Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy was recognized as a finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award.

TAG is the leading technology industry association in the state, serving more than 30,000 members; TAG Education Collaborative is dedicated to developing science, technology, engineering and math initiatives in Georgia.

Canton ES STEM Academy will be recognized for its achievement by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Dec. 1 School Board Meeting.

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Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates Canton Elementary School STEM Academy Principal Beth Long, left, and Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy Principal Joey Moss. Canton ES STEM Academy won the 2016 Georgia STEM Education Award for Elementary Schools, and Clark Creek ES STEM Academy was recognized as a finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award.

 


Cherokee Sheriff’s Office Seeking Crossing Guard Applicants

The Cherokee County School District greatly appreciates the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office crossing guards who ensure students safely access school campuses every day!

The Sheriff’s Office is advertising for crossing guards and information about the opportunity is posted below and on www.cherokeega-sheriff.org

PDF Flier for Crossing Guard Job Posting

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Sequoyah HS Science Teacher Named CCSD 2017 Teacher of the Year!

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Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes, center, is congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, and Sequoyah Principal Elliott Berman.

Watch a video from the surprise presentation:

When Brian Carnes reflects on his successes, he humbly jokes: “not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

“Chicken farmer” has been a nickname for the poultry industry leader-turned-science teacher at Sequoyah High School since he made the career change 12 years ago.

Today, Nov. 4, 2016, he earned a new nickname: Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Or “best chicken farmer teacher ever” for short.

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Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah High School.

“I was very surprised and excited just be to named Sequoyah High School’s Teacher of the Year… it’s such an excellent school.  I know all of the great teachers we have in Cherokee County, so this,” the Cherokee County native said after being surprised with the CCSD honor by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, “this is just kind of overwhelming to me.”

The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year.  The school winners are selected by their peers.  Mr. Carnes will be honored in December at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia.  He also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.

“He teaches with a lot of heart,” Dr. Hightower said, as he congratulated Mr. Carnes, who he calls “a super-teacher,” in front of one of his AP (Advanced Placement) Chemistry classes.  “Besides having tough academics — I know he pushes you — he cares about you.  I know he helps you all along the way.  And that’s what we’re about.”

Mr. Carnes, who attended Buffington Elementary School and graduated from Cherokee High School where he was active in FFA, began his career in the poultry industry.  With degrees in agriculture (bachelor’s from University of Georgia) and quality systems technology (master’s from Southern Polytechnic State University), Mr. Carnes succeeded in the industry for 15 years.

But his heart began to whisper of another plan for him: teaching children to love science.

He talked to mentors, like his former agriculture teacher Dr. Dwight Pullen, and his family and friends.  And then he flew the coop.

Principal Elliot Berman said he’s proud to say he hired Mr. Carnes in 2004.  Mr. Carnes began teaching special education, then moved into science and then took on AP Chemistry.  Along the way, Mr. Carnes earned certifications, endorsements and awards… like the Delta Kappa Gamma International Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, STAR Teacher and, last year, the valedictorian picked him as her “outstanding teacher” for CCSD recognition.

“Mr. Carnes has taught some of the most challenged to some of the most gifted, yet they were taught with the same compassion,” Principal Berman said. “Positively impacting lives is what Mr. Carnes was destined to do, and that is what he continues to do here at Sequoyah.”

Not only is Mr. Carnes beloved for the care he shows students in the classroom as their teacher and outside the classroom in roles such as Student Government Association sponsor, he also delivers when it comes to making challenging materials comprehensible and guiding students to success on demanding AP exams.

“He honestly does care about his students and their grades and wants to develop a relationship with them,” junior Zach Davis said.  “In my opinion, he really is the most deserving teacher.”

Mr. Carnes and his wife, Pam, President & CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, have two daughters, Sarah, a Sequoyah HS and University of Georgia graduate now studying for a master’s at Georgia Tech, and Rebekah, a Sequoyah HS junior.  In addition to his many roles at school, Mr. Carnes also has coached his daughters’ softball teams and volunteers with his church, Canton First United Methodist.

“My most notable accomplishments are witnessed through the many students I have impacted throughout my career,” he said.  “Each example is meaningful whether it be a special education student who overcame great obstacles to become a productive member of society or my many AP students who have been inspired to pursue careers in the sciences as doctors, engineers or physicists; not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Sequoyah HS chemistry teacher Brian Carnes with the news he is CCSD’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

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Sequoyah HS Chemistry teacher Brian Carnes, center, with AP Chemistry students shortly after he is surprised with the announcement he has been named CCSD’s Teacher of the Year for 2017.

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Mr. Carnes’s AP Chemistry class gives a round of applause for their outstanding teacher.

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Mr. Carnes hugs his wife, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Pam Carnes, after the surprise announcement.

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The Carnes family celebrates his award; from left, Sarah, Brian, Rebekah and Pam.


Cherokee County School Board Sets Legislative Partnership Priorities

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, approved its annual Legislative Partnership Priorities (read online here), which outline its position on major education-related issues likely to be considered by the Georgia General Assembly in the upcoming legislative session.

The majority of the priorities are largely unchanged from those set last year, with the addition of a request for the General Assembly to consider bringing back a career-track diploma with course requirements that better prepare students for technical college and/or directly entering the workforce.

The School Board’s requests for the Cherokee County legislative delegation to consider are:

  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by requiring any changes to the State’s education funding formula to fully restore “austerity budget cuts” or provide for the equivalent in new state revenue… thereby empowering local School Boards to: address continued student population growth in Georgia; maintain a 180-day school calendar for students; reduce class sizes to State-funded maximums; and, replenish annual reserve fund balances. Locally-earned Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula funding was fully provided to local school districts by the Georgia General Assembly for 15 years with initial funding beginning in 1986-87 and continuing thereafter until 2002. Since 2002, $205.2M ($3.9M this year and $84M over the past five years) of statutorily-required QBE formula funding earned by CCSD has gone unfunded through austerity budget cuts… all during a time when CCSD student enrollment increased by more than 53% (14,527 students). 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts and their employees by addressing cost-prohibitive premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for participation in the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP)… thereby empowering local School Boards to provide competitive, affordable and responsible health and benefit packages to their employees. Develop a statewide strategy for State Health Benefit Plan cost containment … rather than continuing to pass annual premium increases along to local school districts and their employees. State-level policy planning and budgeting, and the appropriation of necessary funding in this regard, are critically needed to address immediate and future healthcare needs of educators, noncertified staff and educational system retirees. Between FY2008 and FY2017, State appropriations for non-certified health insurance premiums have been systemically reduced and are slated for total elimination. Non-certified employees most often represent local school district’s’ lowest wage-earners and have been the most negatively impacted by the State’s recent actions in this regard.  SHBP is currently projected to operate with an annual deficit of more than $55 Million in FY 2018, signifying probable continued premium increases under current policy and planning. Extraordinary employee health care costs (in the form of significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles, annual maximums, reduced credits and co-insurance expenses) continue to erode the quality and competiveness of the overall compensation package developed by local school districts for its employees.  While CCSD had approximately 350 fewer non-certified employees participating in SHBP in FY2016 compared to FY2009, employer contributions increased over $7M (from $3.6 to $10.7M) during that same time period. CCSD has been forced to privatize custodial and grounds services and increase the use of part-time/ temporary workers for non-certified staffing as cost-reduction measures. The annual cost of providing health insurance for a non-certified employee has risen from $2,000 in 2010 to $9,000 in 2016 a $7,000, or 450% increase! And with an additional $100 per employee per month increase effective Jan 2017, the cost of providing health insurance for a non-certified employee will increase to $846.20 per month and more than $10,000 per year. CCSD benefit costs for non-certified employees are projected to be $11.7M for 2016-17; up from $10.7M in 2015-16; $8.2M in 2014-15 and $7.5M in 2013-14. Local school systems cannot continue to absorb these extraordinary costs. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by ensuring proposed legislative initiatives strengthen provisions for the local control and management of schools . . . thereby empowering local School Boards to fulfill their Constitutional authority and responsibility to involve their local constituency, develop locally derived educational policy and oversee continued performance improvements among their students. CCSD FACTS: CCSD and its highly-respected School Board has garnered multiple State and National awards relative to student achievement gains and innovative educational programs. Through a model of determining a visionary Mission Statement, a prioritized listing of Major System Priorities and collaborative, governance-based policies, the CCSD School Board has a transparent and proven ability to guide its schools in exemplary teaching and learning. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by developing statutory provisions to further insure workforce readiness skills and preparation by high school graduates for transitions directly into careers or secondary-level career educational opportunities by providing students in Georgia with an alternative diploma option in the area of Technical/Career Preparation. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by implementing statutory provisions designed to address continued erosion of the State’s tax base through exemptions from the sales and use tax, income tax and other State taxes. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by opposing the continuation and/or expansion of existing programs that directly or indirectly use public funds to pay private school tuition for students or provide tax incentives for their parents. 
  1. Partner with K-12 public school districts by insuring timely, state and local access to all federal funding allocations.

The School Board hopes to meet next month with Cherokee County’s legislative delegation to review the priorities.

“I want us to be proactive in this process,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said.

Prior to the Regular Meeting, the School Board held a public hearing for input on 2016-17 school year attendance zones; no one came forward to speak.  A formal boundary redrawing process was not needed this year, as the only attendance zone adjustments planned are for neighborhoods not yet under construction that will be assigned to Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized Woodstock ES teacher Pam Morgan as the 2017 Georgia Art Educator of the Year;
  • Recognized five CCSD high school students for appointment to the Model Atlanta Regional Commission;
  • Recognized CCSD School Nutrition for winning the Georgia Golden Radish Award at the Gold level;
  • Approved the renewal of Partnership Agreements with the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Cherokee Day Training Center and Northside Hospital-Cherokee;
  • Presented the “trailer” for the CCSD-Cherokee Retired Educators Association annual oral history video project, “Learning from Legends: Retired Educators Share Their Wisdom,” in celebrated of Retired Educators Day on Sunday, Nov. 6;
  • Set Feb. 11, 2017 as the date for its next School Board Training session;
  • Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;
  • Approved out-of-state travel;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
  • Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved granting right of way to the Georgia Department of Transportation for an intersection improvement and signal/crosswalk upgrade at the main entrance of Cherokee High School on SR 140/Marietta Highway;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations including the appointment of Brad Orth as Supervisor of Staffing; he currently works as a solutions consultant for Kronos Incorporated and previously served as Chief Information Officer for the City of Salem, Va.; and,
  • Reviewed a timeline for the upcoming AdvancED (SACS-CASI) accreditation renewal external team visit to CCSD.

 

School Board Member Clark Menard was absent.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, December 1, 2016