CCSD Wins Three National Awards for Communications

CCSD Wins Three National Awards for Communications

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District has earned its first-ever National recognition for communications by bringing home three awards from the National School Public Relations Association!

The Association, consisting of school communications and public relations leaders and experts from across the nation, each year honors outstanding publications and electronic media produced by school districts as part of their communications efforts.

“Effective communication plays an important role in fulfilling our School District’s mission,” said Barbara Jacoby, CCSD Chief Communications Officer. “It increases accountability, transparency and engagement and furthers our School District’s reputation and standing as an educational leader. We’re honored to have earned this National recognition and appreciate the collaboration with our divisions and schools to continuously improve communications.”

“School Closure Decision Process” Video

The School District won a Merit Award for its video, “School Closure Decision Process,” animated by Etowah High School teacher Brandon Grummer based on a script by Carrie McGowan, the Office of Communication’s supervisor of strategic planning, community relations and publications. Teasley Middle School Assistant Principal John Carter provided the video voiceover.

2016 Annual Report of District Progress

Two CCSD publications won Honorable Mention awards: the 2016 Annual Report of District Progress, which compiles important achievements and data from divisions and schools; and the 2016 First Day Facts, which provides a snapshot of what’s new for the coming school year. Both publications were redesigned last school year by Ms. McGowan to be more reader-friendly and useful to schools and the community at large.

“It is very rewarding to see the School District and, specifically its Office of Communications, receive these honors for our intentional efforts to provide timely, relevant and professional communications with our community,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower said. “For us, these awards represent further validation of our philosophy of transparency and quality in the area of communications and public relations!”

2016 First Day Facts

They will be recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Aug. 17, 2017 meeting of the School Board.

Links to the award-winning projects:

“School Closure Decision Process” Video

2016 Annual Report

2016 First Day Facts

Eight CCSD Schools Named National Beta Schools of Merit

The E.T. Booth Middle School Beta Club last school year organized a Veterans Day dinner for veterans in the community and their families.

Eight Cherokee County School District schools have been named 2017 National Beta Schools of Merit.

Cherokee, Creekview and Sequoyah High Schools and Creekland, Dean Rusk, E.T. Booth, Freedom and Mill Creek Middle Schools earned this recognition by supporting the youth service organization on their campuses.

National Beta Club logoNational Beta Club, which is the largest nonprofit educational youth organization in the nation, includes Senior clubs for students in grades 9-12 and Junior clubs for students in grades 4-8. Its mission is “to promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, service and leadership among elementary and secondary school students.”

The Schools of Merit honor recognizes schools’ “dedication to academic excellence, leadership development and commitment to celebrating students’ achievements,” according to Bob Bright, chief executive officer of the National Beta Club.

The schools were recognized this week at the 2017 National Beta Convention in Orlando, Fla.

“We want every student to graduate with excellent academic preparation to succeed in college and career, and we also want them to develop strong character,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Offering Beta Clubs in our schools is one of the ways we grow leadership skills and a passion for community service in our students.”

The Superintendent and School Board will recognize these schools at the Aug. 17, 2017 School Board meeting.

CCSD Middle Schools Offer Variety of High School Credit Courses

Cherokee County School District middle schools are expanding their selection of high school credit courses, with subjects offered including Physical Science, as pictured at Dean Rusk Middle School.

The Cherokee County School District is continuing to expand the menu of high school credit classes offered in its middle schools.

More rising eighth-graders now have the opportunity to get a jump on graduation requirements, with 14 different high school courses available across CCSD middle schools. While course offerings vary by school, each middle school offers at least eight high school-level classes.

“Starting high school with several credits boosts students’ confidence and provides more room in their high school schedule to explore electives including career paths,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “This opportunity also opens the door for some students to graduate early if they continue to accelerate their academic path in high school. It’s one of our strategies to continuously improve academic achievement and our graduation rate.”

For 2017-18, all seven CCSD middle schools will offer

• Honors GSE Algebra I
• Accelerated Honors Algebra I and Geometry A
• Physical Science
• Spanish I
• Beginning Band I
• Beginning Chorus I

The School District has long offered Spanish I, physical science and accelerated 9th/10th grade mathematics for academically advanced students, but CCSD expanded high school credit offerings in fine arts and other elective areas in the last few years to allow more students to earn high school credit ahead of their freshman year.

Beginning Band I was added to all middle schools for 2013-14, then CCSD launched a major expansion of course offerings for 2014-15, including orchestra, visual arts, drama, chorus, business and technology, and drafting and design. Languages offered have expanded to include French and Latin at several schools, as well as a limited offering of German and Chinese.

The high school science and math courses are taken in lieu of eighth-grade science and math, while world language courses are taken in lieu of eighth-grade reading class. The fine arts and business classes can be taken as electives instead of a Connections class. Students who qualify to take physical science or algebra are required to take the End Of Course exam (EOC) for that class just as a high school student would.

Parents should contact their child’s middle school for more information on earning high school credit and the eligibility/availability for these classes.

Cherokee County School District middle school students, including those at E.T. Booth Middle School as pictured, can choose from an expanding menu of high school credit courses in electives like band and chorus, as well as in advanced academics.

CCSD Lead Nurse Named Georgia’s School Nurse Administrator of the Year

Category : CCSD

Gwen Chambers, who serves as CCSD’s senior lead nurse overseeing its school nurse program, is the Georgia Association of School Nurses’ 2017 Georgia School Nurse Administrative of the Year.

A Cherokee County School District nurse has been named the top school nurse leader in the state!

Gwen Chambers, who serves as CCSD’s senior lead nurse overseeing its school nurse program, is the Georgia Association of School Nurses’ 2017 Georgia School Nurse Administrative of the Year. She now is a nominee for the National Association of School Nurses’ top honor.

“This award confirms what we in Cherokee County have known for years: Ms. Chambers is a skilled nurse, dedicated educator and outstanding administrator, who cares deeply about her community,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’re so proud of her success and this statewide honor!”

Ms. Chambers, who joined CCSD as a school nurse 29 years ago and has served as a lead nurse for 17 years, was surprised with the honor at the Association’s annual conference last week in Savannah.

Georgia Association of School Nurses logoThe award recognizes excellence in school nursing leadership; the winner is selected based on criteria including: clinical practice leadership, administrative leadership, professional development, professional advocacy activity, community involvement and research.

“The school nurse is the only line of healthcare some students see,” said Ms. Chambers, who began her career with CCSD as an itinerant nurse, who traveled from school to school before the development of the current on-site school nurse program. The District’s program now employs 41 school nurses, led by two lead nurses, who serve 42,000 students and 4,500 full-time and additional 1,000 part-time/at-will employees throughout the year. “I feel I have fulfilled my vision of a structured school health program, and I have seen hundreds of students helped through the on-site school nurses. The program is thriving, and plans to continue to maintain, nurture, build and represent the program are in my future.”

Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Chambers for her knowledge and advocacy, citing her efforts to expand the school nurse program, implement best practices and procedures and increase professional development opportunities.

“Ms. Chambers provides valuable, informed insights to our operational leadership in order to develop the best recommendations possible for our school nurse program, which has led to increased staffing and clinic hours to better serve students and staff,” Dr. Hightower said. “We can turn to her whenever we have questions about health issues affecting schools and communities at the national or state level and know she will provide well-researched data and medical opinions, as well as her own perspective.”

Ms. Chambers, a graduate of Kennesaw State University, is a member of Georgia Association of School Nurses, Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Service League of Cherokee County.

Board Briefs: Cherokee County School Board Approves 2017-18 Budget

Category : Board Briefs

The School Board on Thursday, June 15, 2017, unanimously approved the Superintendent’s Recommended 2017-18 Annual Budget, which funds improvements in teaching and learning and safety and security without a millage rate increase.

The budget invests $382 Million into day-to-day operations, with 71% of that total in classroom instruction, including the continuing effort to decrease class size and the purchase of the first new instructional resources for elementary English and language arts classes in more than a decade.

Other major investments include reconfiguring Boston Elementary School’s entrance road to improve safety; retrofitting six more schools with security foyers limiting visitor access; purchasing 19 school buses to meet demand and replace aging vehicles; and piloting a new online GPS system that will allow parents to track the location of their child’s school bus. Operating reserves also are rising to $49 Million, with an additional $29 Million in the building fund reserves, as part of the District’s plan to further raise its credit rating.

“We appreciate the strong support of our School Board and community in meeting our mission of educating the emerging generation,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower. “We are dedicated to serving as responsible stewards of our community’s resources, and this budget shows our focus is exactly where it should be: on the children.”

While State funding increased to cover its portion of a 2% salary increase recommended by the Governor, rising mandated retirement system fees and student enrollment growth, the State continued its “austerity budget reduction” withholding of $4 Million in funds earned by the School District – funding that would have otherwise allowed for greater class size reduction.

Thursday’s meeting also included a presentation on the School District’s new teacher induction program, which will expand professional development, mentoring and collaboration opportunities and extend this support over three years. Data collected through surveys of new teachers hired in the last two years, as well as evaluation results and feedback from administrators, was used to develop the new model.

Dr. Hightower praised the work by curriculum and instruction leaders to develop the initiative, which he believes “will pay significant dividends with our younger teachers” and provide a model for other school districts statewide.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and School Board Member Clark Menard both complimented staff on their efforts, especially the program’s extended timeline and varied opportunities for growth and development.

“It’s going to be very helpful for those new teachers,” Ms. Cromer said.

Also on Thursday, the School Board approved the sale of a small parking lot at Hill Circle and Academy Street in downtown Canton to the highest bidder, Harris Development, for $50,000.

The School Board also:

• Recognized CCSD’s School Nutrition Program — winner of two USDA “Best Practices” State Awards and a National Turnip the Beet award;

• Recognized Indian Knoll Elementary School Media Center and Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis, Winner of the 2017 Exemplary Media Program Award, and E.T. Booth Middle School Media Center and Media Specialist Amanda Graves, Winner of the 2017 Exceptional Media Program Award;

• Recognized Teasley MS Special Education Teacher Dr. Jennifer Reynolds for selection as a “Top 10 in 10: Young Professionals to Watch” Award winner;

• Recognized 2016-17 Elementary Science Olympiad Winners;

• Recognized CCSD’s Georgia PTA Reflections Winners;

• Recognized State and Regional Champions including Cherokee HS track team members, Creekview HS boys’ golf team members and the AAAAAAA State Champion Etowah HS baseball team;

• Recognized Etowah High School Class of 2017 graduate Drew Waters — 2016-17 Gatorade Georgia Baseball Player of the Year and USA Today ALL-USA Baseball First Team member, who has been drafted by the Atlanta Braves;

• Approved the renewal of the Partnership Agreement with City of Canton;

• Approved the first reading of recommended updates to School Board Policies and the establishment of a New Debt Management Policy, which was a suggestion by credit rating agencies to further improve CCSD’s credit rating;

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

• Approved a bid for the annual hairnet purchase through the Georgia Educational Cooperative purchasing program in which CCSD School Nutrition participates;

• 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 a permanent easement to the City of Ball Ground for a new streetscape project including sidewalk installation and maintenance;

• Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,

• Approved the School Board’s annual governance training plan.

School Board Members Mike Chapman and John Harmon were not present for the meeting.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20, 2017

CCSD to Host National Advanced School Resource Officer Course June 19-21

Category : CCSD

NASRO logoThe Cherokee County School District School Police Department next week will host a national training program for officers from across the state!

In cooperation with the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives (GASSLEE), CCSD will host the National Association of School Resource Officers’ (NASRO) Advanced School Resource Officer Course from Monday, June 19, through Wednesday, June 21, at Teasley Middle School in Canton.

Sessions will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, with CCSD School Police Chief Mark E. Kissel, President of GASSLEE, giving opening remarks on Monday. Capt. Joe Carter of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, past president of NASRO, is the course instructor.

“As President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives, I believe this program reflects the professionalism of those officers assigned to work within their respective schools to provide a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning,” Chief Kissel said.

NASRO, the world’s leader in school-based policing, serves school-based law enforcement officers, school administrators, and school security/safety professionals working as partners to protect students, faculty and staff, and their school community. The organization’s mission is to provide the highest quality of training to school-based law enforcement officers in order to promote safer schools and safer kids.

The advanced course builds upon the Basic School Resource Officer course approved by Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council; CCSD School Police Officers all have attended and successfully completed the basic course. The training offered in Canton will cover numerous topics including threat assessment, critical incident planning and technology and social media.

Several local businesses have provided door prizes and donations for the event, and their sponsorship is greatly appreciated: AMC Riverstone 15, Big Woods Goods, Chick-fil-A of Canton, Credit Union of Georgia, Killer Creek Harley-Davidson, Northside Hospital Cherokee and The Home Depot.

Sequoyah HS Class of 2017 Graduate Headed to West Point

Andy Whittles

A Sequoyah High School Class of 2017 graduate is headed to West Point!

Andy Whittle, who graduated with honors, has been appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

An Eagle Scout, Andy participated in the school’s Air Force JROTC including serving as Group Commander and Drill Team Commander his senior year and as a member of its Kitty Hawk Air Society. Through the summer Cadet Leadership Course at The Citadel, Andy earned the Squadron Outstanding Cadet award, which is presented to the cadet ranked highest in a squadron of 150.

As a JROTC cadet, Andy logged more than 150 community service hours through activities including Veterans Day programs, MUST Ministries food drives, American Red Cross blood drives, campus beautification projects and school and feeder school events and projects.

Andy attended the American Legion’s Georgia Boys State summer program for four years, participating in various chorus groups during the event and winning Region Champion for Boys Quartet as a junior and State Champion for Boys Quartet as a senior. Elected to the position of Supreme Court Justice at Georgia Boys State, Andy also received the Scholastic Excellence Award from the Legion.

He ran cross-country for two years and participated in a previous high school’s crew team, with which he lettered. Andy also volunteers through his church as an audio and visual system volunteer.

CCSD High School Class of 2017 Graduate Wins National Merit Scholarship!

Category : CCSD

Katie Bates

A Cherokee County School District Class of 2017 graduate has won a 2017 National Merit Scholarship!

Katie Bates, who graduated last month from Sequoyah HS, has won a National Merit University of Georgia Scholarship! She plans to study biochemistry at UGA in the fall.

Less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors are named finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and only about half win scholarships. Selection of finalists is based on outstanding SAT scores and academic achievements, participation in school and community activities and demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors. Scholarships awarded include National Merit $2500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and Special Scholarships.

CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Named Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year!

UPDATE 6/12/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS today was named the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year!  The surprise presentation was made today at the Georgia Library Media Association’s Summer Institute in Peachtree City.

UPDATE 6/12/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS today was named the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year! The surprise presentation was made today at the Georgia Library Media Association’s Summer Institute in Peachtree City.

UPDATE 5/8/17: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee HS has been named the North Central Georgia regional winner by the Georgia Library Media Association and the Georgia Association of Instructional Technology!  She now is a finalist for the 2017 Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year Award to be presented in June.

Cherokee High School Media Specialist Anne Nechvatal gets a congratulatory hug from social studies teacher Angie Pannell after the surprise announcement that she was chosen as the Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Media Specialist of the Year.

Check out the video from today’s surprise presentation:

The Cherokee High School media center’s transformation from old-school library to a modern, collaborative learning space has earned Anne Nechvatal the honor of Cherokee County School District 2017 Media Specialist of the Year!

Ms. Nechvatal, who sees the center as “the largest classroom in the school,” was surprised with the award on Monday, March 6, 2017 by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board Members in front of an audience of the school’s faculty and her husband. She now will represent CCSD in the State-level competition. The presentation and reception that followed were sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee, a CCSD Partner.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, awards flowers and plaque to CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, center, as fellow media specialist Vicki Barbre, left, hugs her.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower praised Ms. Nechvatal for her dedication to digital learning.

“You’ve turned the media center upside down to make sure it’s relevant for your students and teachers,” Dr. Hightower said, applauding her focus on staying up to date in an “age of information.” “Anne is a shining example of everything we want a media specialist to be.”

Ms. Nechvatal, who was congratulated with a standing ovation, said she was “very honored and overwhelmed” by the surprise. She also was quick to acknowledge the work of her fellow media specialist, Vicki Barbre, noting “this is really her honor as well.”

Anne Nechvatal is congratulated by her husband, Gerry, as part of the surprise announcement that she is CCSD’s Media Specialist of the Year, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Principal Todd Miller look on.

The award process begins with each Innovation Zone (high school and feeder elementary and middle schools) selecting a Media Specialist for the Year. Applications from these honorees then are considered by a panel of retired educators and community leaders, who select the CCSD Media Specialist of the Year.

In addition to Ms. Nechvatal for the Cherokee Innovation Zone (IZ), the other Zone winners are: Creekview IZ – Hollen Pope, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy; Etowah IZ – Denise Lewis, Etowah HS; River Ridge IZ – Keara Rubin, River Ridge HS; Sequoyah IZ – Mia Temples, Hickory Flat ES; and Woodstock IZ – Kimberly George, Sixes ES. They all will be recognized by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the March 16 School Board meeting.

Ms. Nechvatal is a graduate of Oglethorpe University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree; University of West Georgia, where she earned her masters of education degree in school library media; and University of West Georgia, where she recently completed her education specialist degree.

A previous winner of the Creekview IZ’s Media Specialist of the Year Award, Ms. Nechvatal joined Cherokee High School two years ago and since then has focused on updating the media center and its resources to increase benefits to students and teachers. She also serves as the school’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Team coach and judges Senior Projects.

“My mission for the CHS media center is to create a space that is open, accessible and user-friendly; put simply, a place where students want to come,” said Ms. Nechvatal, who previously served as a media specialist at Ball Ground ES STEM Academy.

Dr. Pam Andes, as graduation coach at the school, sees students benefit from the media center’s resources and additional learning opportunities.

“Our students are waiting for the media center to open each morning in order to spend time here before school begins,” Dr. Andes said. “Students know that she will assist them with any issues in the media center. She truly cares about our students and wants our media center to be second to none.”

Ms. Nechvatal has applied for grants to improve the center and develops activities to increase student traffic, such as the annual Technology “Smackdown” event.

“Building relationships is one of the most important parts of being an effective media specialist. I strive to understand the wants and needs of both our students and teachers,” she said. “I feel like the students are my customers, and I want to offer them the best customer service possible. I try not to ever let them go away empty handed.”

Principal Todd Miller thanked Ms. Nechvatal for all of her efforts that led to the honor.

“Thank you for what you do each day and for turning our media center into a digital learning center,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower, congratulates CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, as Cherokee High School Principal Todd Miller looks on.

From left to right, School Board member Kelly Poole, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, and Jennifer Stanley of Northside Hospital-Cherokee, which sponsored by the award presentation and reception, congratulate CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal of Cherokee High School, center, with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower and Principal Todd Miller.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, awards flowers and plaque to CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal, center, as fellow media specialist Vicki Barbre, left, hugs her.

Following the surprise, CCSD 2017 Media Specialist of the Year Anne Nechvatal was celebrated at a reception in the media center with cake, punch and coffee. The presentation and reception were sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee, a CCSD Partner.


Johnston ES Wins National Healthy School Award

Category : CCSD

Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s 2017 America’s Healthiest Schools Bronze Award logo

Johnston Elementary School has been named to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s 2017 list of America’s Healthiest Schools!

The school won a Bronze Award from the national organization for making changes that promote healthier eating and physical activity for students and staff. Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program is an evidence-based national initiative to create healthier school environments where children can thrive.

Schools are recognized for such efforts as serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.

Principal Amy Graham and PE teachers, Michael L’Esperance and Josh Philpot, will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s August meeting.