Sports Physicals Offered at CCSD High Schools This Spring

Sports Physicals Offered at CCSD High Schools This Spring

Category : CCSD

Each of CCSD’s six high schools will offer sports physicals on site this spring at a cost of $20.  Payment is cash only.  Students can attend at ANY location, they do not have to go to the event at their school.  Dates are April 14, April 21 and May 5.  Times vary.  See attached for details on each location.  These events are sponsored by Northside Cherokee Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Northside Family Medicine & Urgent Care, and Perimeter North Medical Associates.  Physical forms may be downloaded from the Athletics website at

Cherokee HS: April 21, 9-11 am

Creekview HS: April 21, 1-3 pm

Etowah HS: April 14, 1-3 pm

River Ridge HS:  April 14, 9-11:30 am

Sequoyah HS:  May 5, 1-3 pm

Woodstock HS: May 5, 9-11:30 am

CCSD High School Sports Physicals April 14_April 21_ May 5 $20

CCSD Announces High School 2018 Summer School Options

Save the Dates:  June 11-29, 2018

Credit Recovery

Virtual Credit Recovery classes will held at each high school.

Face-to-Face Credit Recovery (Teacher-Taught) will be held at Etowah HS at Etowah East.  A sufficient demand must be shown in order for a Face-to Face course to be held.

Cost of each course will be $200.  Early Registration will be held in May in the counselor’s office at each high school for the following courses:

Morning Sessions: 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM Afternoon Sessions: 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM Course Title Virtual Course Face-to-Face Course 9th Literature/Comp A X X 10th World Literature/Comp A X X 11th American Literature/Comp A X X 12th English Literature/Comp A X X Physical Science A GPS/GSE X X Biology A GPS/GSE X X Chemistry A GPS/GSE X X Environmental Science A GPS/GSE X X Earth Systems A GPS/GSE X X Personal Fitness X X GSE Foundations of Algebra A X X GSE Algebra I A X X GSE Analytic Geometry A X X GSE Geometry A X X GSE Algebra II A X X GSE Pre-Calculus A X X Adv Math Decision Making A X X Math of Finance A X X Statistical Reasoning A X X U. S. History A X Economics X World History A X Course Title Virtual Course Face-to-Face Course 9th Literature/Comp B X X 10th World Literature/Comp B X X 11th American Literature/Comp B X X 12th English Literature/Comp B X X Physical Science B GPS/GSE X X Biology B GPS/GSE X X Chemistry B GPS/GSE X X Environmental Science B GPS/GSE X X Earth Systems B GPS/GSE X X Health X X GSE Foundations of Algebra B X X GSE Algebra I B X X GSE Analytic Geometry B X X GSE Geometry B X X GSE Algebra II B X X GSE Pre-Calculus B X X Adv Math Decision Making B X X Math of Finance B X X Statistical Reasoning B X X U. S. History B X U. S. Government X World History B X

Initial Credit for Personal Fitness and Health

Cherokee County School District will offer an opportunity for rising ninth-graders to take Personal Fitness (morning session) and/or Health (afternoon session) at two locations:  Cherokee HS (for Cherokee, Creekview and Sequoyah students) and Etowah HS at Etowah East (for Etowah, River Ridge and Woodstock students).  High School students still needing to take these courses are also eligible to register. Cost of each course will be $200.  Early Registration will be in May at each middle school.

Summer Bridge

High schools will be working with middle schools to invite select, at-risk rising Grade 9 students to attend Summer Bridge which is June 11-29 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at each high school.  There is no cost for the program.  Although no course credit is awarded for participation, the program allows students to preview academic content, focus on study skills, learn to navigate the high school campus and build relationships with fellow students and high school staff.  The program resembles a camp atmosphere whose goal is to prepare students for a smooth and successful transition to high school.  No transportation is provided.

Watch for more detailed Summer School registration information to be released in mid-April.

CCSD Publishes Annual Report of District Progress

Front cover of CCSD’s Annual Report of District Progress

The Cherokee County School District has published its Annual Report of District Progress, which offers the community a snapshot of successes over the past year.

“We are focused on accountability and transparency in our operations, and this report is another way we show our community how we’re delivering on the promises of our Strategic Plan,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “The Annual Report provides important information in an easy-read format so our community can see the return on its investment: more and better prepared graduates headed to college and careers.”

This year’s Annual Report design puts those graduates front and center, with a “report card” for the Class of 2017 on the front cover. The four-page publication, which is posted online here, also highlights CCSD’s outstanding performance above State and National levels on various performance- and survey-based metrics.

“We appreciate the leadership of our School Board and the support of our community in fulfilling our mission of ‘Educating the Emerging Generation,’” Dr. Hightower said. “We could not achieve this level of success without everyone working together – from students and their families to our employees to our partners and volunteers — and we are very grateful to all of you.”

WHS Principal Honored by Georgia Library Media Association

Category : CCSD

Woodstock High School Principal Mark Smith’s strong support for his media center and its programs is readily evident, whether he is cheering on the Reading Bowl team, tweeting about media center activities, or even spending 10 hours on the floor with a wrench, assembling new library tables in time for the first day of school. His dedication to his school’s media center recently earned Mr. Smith the Georgia Library Media Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year award. He was surprised with the award by students, administrators, media specialists and his family in, where else, the Woodstock HS media center on March 9.

photo of Mark Smith with Media Specialists Kimberly George, left, and Jennifer Cogdill, right.

Mark Smith with Media Specialists Kimberly George, left, and Jennifer Cogdill, right.

Media Specialists Jennifer Cogdill and Kimberly George nominated Mr. Smith for the award, the first one ever given by the GLMA.


“When we think of moral support, we envision Mr. Smith. There is no other administrator who shows his support for media specialists with such veracity every single day,” they wrote. “He continually asks us, ‘What can I do for you?’ and ‘What do you need from me?’ in order to help us progress and advance our media center into a better place for students.”


Ms. Cogdill and Ms. George noted Mr. Smith’s support of their updates and changes to the media center in the last three years as they have changed the space physically and programmatically.


“Our school library is not the traditional library in which all is quiet with the focus on books,” they wrote in his nomination letter. “Mr. Smith is a supporter of this nontraditional library where we collaborate, we building instructional and community partnerships, we encourage students to create and we think aloud.”

photo of Amanda Graves at lecturn

Amanda Graves, media specialist at E.T. Booth MS and chair of the GLMA committee, addresses the crowd of students, administrators, family and media specialists.

Mr. Smith was also surprised at the award presentation by his wife, Katie, and sons Noah and Robert. The celebration included remarks by GLMA officers, presentation of an etched glass award, followed by refreshments.

From left, Holly Frilot, Coordinator of Grants and Awards for GLMA, Principal Mark Smith, and Amanda Graves, Chair of the Distinguished School Administrator Award committee.

Mark Smith, center, with his sons, Robert and Noah, and wife Katie.

Mr. Smith’s reaction upon seeing his celebratory decorations.

Severe Weather Alert: Activities That Begin After 6 pm Are Cancelled for Monday Evening

Category : CCSD

On behalf of the Superintendent, be advised that due to the National Weather Service’s inclusion of Cherokee County into the Enhanced Risk Zone for severe weather Monday evening, CCSD will cancel all after-school activities, practices and programs that begin after 6:00 p.m. today (3/19/18).

Board Briefs: School Board Approves New Principals, Turf Installation

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Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

March 15, 2018: Regular Meeting


The School Board on Thursday, March 15, 2018, approved the appointment of new Principals for next school year and the voter-supported installation of artificial turf at all high schools.


Two high schools will see new Principals for next school year: River Ridge HS and Sequoyah HS, as both Principal Darrell Herring and Elliott Berman are retiring.


Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower announced Principal Herring’s retirement at the meeting, thanking him for outstanding service to CCSD for the last 11 years.


“Mr. Herring successfully opened a new high school for us with River Ridge, and that’s no easy feat,” Dr. Hightower said.  “We know he’s made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of students.”

photo of Kerry Martin

Dr. Kerry Martin, River Ridge HS Principal for 2018-19

Mr. Herring will be succeeded at River Ridge HS by Dr. Kerry Martin, the current Principal at neighboring Mill Creek MS, past Principal at Arnold Mill ES and a past Teacher of the Year who brings 28 years of education experience to the role.


Mr. Berman, whose retirement was announced earlier this year, will be succeeded at Sequoyah HS by Robert Van Alstyne.  Mr. Van Alstyne, with 19 years of experience, has served the last nine years as an Assistant Principal, and, in his current post at Etowah HS, earned the 7A State Athletic Director of the Year honor and twice won the regional award.

Photo of Bob Van Alstyne

Robert Van Alstyne, Principal of Sequoyah HS for 2018-19

As a result of Dr. Martin’s move from Mill Creek MS, her Principal post there will be filled by Matthew May, currently Assistant Principal at Sequoyah High School.  A past Teacher of the Year, Mr. May has 16 years of experience and has served the last two years in his role at Sequoyah HS.

photo of Matthew May

Matthew May, Principal of Mill Creek MS for 2018-19

Dr. Hightower on Thursday also announced the retirement of longtime educator Cathy Elliott, past Principal at Macedonia ES who currently serves as a staffing director in CCSD’s Human Resources division.


“Ms. Elliott has shared her exceptional talents with us for the last leg of her 36-year career in public education, and we are so appreciative of all that she has done to support our students, staff and schools,” he said.


Ms. Elliott will be succeeded by Amy Graham, currently the Principal at Johnston ES, who has worked for 19 years in education including as a classroom teacher and an Assistant Principal at Creekland MS and Teasley MS.

photo of amy graham

Amy Graham, Staffing Director

As a result of Ms. Graham’s move, her Principal post at Johnston ES will be filled by Laura Akers, an Assistant Principal at Little River ES and past Teacher of the Year at Liberty ES with 19 years of experience.

photo of Laura Akers

Laura Akers, Principal of Johnston ES for 2018-19

Victoria Thom, a 32-year educator, will advance from Assistant Principal of CCSD’s Preschool Centers to the Principal post with the retirement announced earlier this year of Principal Donna Adams.  Ms. Thom’s long career has included teaching in CCSD classrooms and serving as an Assistant Principal at schools including Liberty ES and Mountain Road ES.

photo of Victoria Thom

Victoria Thom, Principal of CCSD Preschool Centers.

Kim Montalbano, Principal at Woodstock ES, will be moving to Indian Knoll ES following the retirement of Principal Dr. Ann Gazell announced earlier this year.  Ms. Montalbano’s Principal post at Woodstock ES will be filled by Matthew Freedman, Principal of Park Street Elementary School in Marietta.

photo of matt freedman

Matt Freedman, Principal of Woodstock ES for 2018-19.

Dr. Hightower said Mr. Freedman’s impressive results at the 100% Title I school included significantly increasing student performance, improving student behavior, adding STEM education and engaging community partners… making him a “great catch” for CCSD and Woodstock ES.


The School Board next month will appoint Assistant Principals to vacancies created by some of these moves, as well as any other leadership roles still to be filled for next school year.


The long-awaited installation of artificial turf at all of CCSD’s high schools was unanimously approved by the School Board.  The $4.9 Million contract with Sports Turf, Inc./AstroTurf will be funded using Education SPLOST revenues, as overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2016 Ed SPLOST renewal.  The installation will replace grass at five schools and outdated turf funded by community donations at Etowah High School.  Through this installation, CCSD will avoid significant annual maintenance costs and will increase safety for players, while also evening the playing field for our student athletes in competitive divisions.


The School Board unanimously approved the sale of the CCSD Downtown Center (Historic Canton High School), the last building CCSD still owned in downtown Canton, to the City of Canton for $2.5 Million.


Dr. Hightower also presented a brief report on his Ad Hoc Safety and Security Committee, which was formed following the Sandy Hook school shooting and which he asked to begin meeting again following the Parkland tragedy last month.


The Committee is made up of CCSD and school leaders; the county’s sheriff, marshal, municipal police chiefs and additional leaders from local law enforcement; and parents representing each Innovation Zone who are graduates of CCSD’s VILLA parent academy.  He has tasked the group with reviewing CCSD’s current safety and security levels and making recommendations to him, prior to the development of next year’s budget, for possible improvements.


School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman said he appreciates Dr. Hightower’s responsiveness and involvement of local law enforcement leaders and parents.


“Our School District and this School Board will continue to be proactive and transparent in our response to safety and security concerns,” Mr. Chapman said, noting the District does this without any financial support from the State.  “This is too important an issue for our community not to take care of on our own, even if the State is shirking its financial and ethical responsibility.”


The School Board also:

  • Recognized Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy as a Georgia High-Progress Reward School;
  • Recognized Sequoyah High School senior Victoria “Tori” Turk as recipient of Georgia Thespians’ 2018 Outstanding Student Achievement Award;
  • Recognized Sequoyah High School Speech and Debate Team as 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament qualifiers;
  • Recognized 2017-18 STAR Students and STAR Teachers;
  • Recognized CCSD students selected for All-State Band, Chorus, Orchestra and Reading Chorus;
  • Recognized 2017-18 Middle School County Academic Bowl Team champions from Creekland Middle School;
  • Recognized Woodstock Elementary School as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;
  • Recognized Cherokee County School District Middle School Basketball Tournament Champions;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions from Creekview HS wrestling and competition cheer teams and Sequoyah HS swim team members;
  • Recognized Cherokee County School District Library Media Specialists of the Year;
  • Recognized School Board Members During School Board Member Appreciation Week;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with the United Way of Greater Atlanta;
  • Adopted a resolution supporting the City of Woodstock’s annexation of the Woodstock MS/HS campus in order to provide services including inclement weather road clearing;
  • Approved the School Board’s application for the Georgia School Boards Association’s (GSBA) Quality Board recognition;
  • Approved the naming of School Board Member Robert Rechsteiner as delegate to GSBA’s Delegate Assembly;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved transferring the CCSD School Police Department’s K9 canine through an intergovernmental agreement to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and the sale of K9 program equipment to interested buyers;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professiosnal development;
  • Approved special lease agreements; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to discuss student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2018

CCSD Offers Agency Fair March 20 for Families of Students with Disabilities

Category : CCSD

CCSD’s Special Education Department will host an Agency Fair March 20 for families seeking resources for students with disabilities (SWD).  See the flyer here. The Agency Fair will be from 2:30 pm to 5 pm at the Cherokee County South Annex, located at 7545 Main Street, Building 200, Woodstock.  More than three dozen companies and agencies are typically present, offering resources from preschool to post secondary options.

At 4 pm, Kim Linek, Disability Specialist for Georgia Highlands College, will be the featured speaker.

For more information, please contact Debby Carty‐Campbell: debby.carty‐ 770.721.8523

Cherokee HS Principal Wins State Forensics Principal of the Year Award!

Category : CCSD

The Georgia Forensics Coaches Association selected Cherokee High School Principal Todd Miller as winner of its 2018 Principal of the Year Award.

A Cherokee County School District Principal has won the top honor awarded to school administrators by the statewide association for speech and debate coaches!

The Georgia Forensics Coaches Association selected Cherokee High School Principal Todd Miller as winner of its 2018 Principal of the Year Award.

The award honors one administrator annually selected from school and district leaders statewide to recognize his or her commitment to speech and debate in Georgia’s schools. In its third year, the awards program has previously honored a superintendent of schools and a high school principal. The Cherokee HS speech and debate team is coached by English teacher Jamie Wills.

“Principal Miller strongly supports offering students a wide variety of opportunities from challenging academics to career training to extra-curricular opportunities, and this award recognizes that commitment,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Speech and debate programs provide our students with critical thinking and public speaking skills that will help them succeed in college, careers and throughout their lives, and we’re so proud to see the school and Principal Miller earn this statewide recognition.”

Principal Miller will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s April 19 meeting.


CCSD Celebrates School Board Member Appreciation Week!

It’s School Board Member Appreciation Week, and we’ll be shining the spotlight this week on each of our representatives to thank them for their service… check back here for a new recognition each day this week!

School Board Vice Chairman Mike Chapman, left, serves up lunch in Captain America costume to students on School Lunch Hero Day along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Mike Chapman

Canton businessman Mike Chapman has served on the School Board for an impressive 13 years, with four as chairman!

Mr. Chapman has been elected five times by his fellow Board members to the Vice Chairman post, including this school year.

Many successful initiatives in CCSD have occurred due to his support, including the nationally recognized Cherokee Academies program developed in response to Mr. Chapman’s call for more educational school choice in our community and the expansion of CCSD’s safety and security program. Mr. Chapman is known as an advocate for fiscal conservatism and transparency and supported the development of the Open CCSD webpage, which includes hundreds of public records including video of School Board meetings.

His strongest passion may be for career education, fueled by his own successful business career as plant manager for Morrison Products in Canton and longtime membership with numerous civic clubs and community boards of directors, and his wife’s expertise as a career education teacher. Mr. Chapman, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, not only champions this cause and supports it with his votes as a Board member, he also opens his workplace for school field trips and visits classrooms to talk about career choices.

“Our School District would not be as successful as it is today without the support of Mr. Chapman… he’s the definition of a model School Board member, and we greatly appreciate his service,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “He has represented the Board at the State level for many years through the Georgia Education Coalition, and he’s just as eager to read to a classroom of kindergarteners or to jump in the cafeteria line – in a Captain America costume – to serve meals on School Lunch Hero Day.”

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer of Canton welcomes community members to the dedication of the new School Board auditorium.

Kyla Cromer

Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer of Canton has dedicated her life to education, both as her vocation and as her passion.

She earned her degree in elementary education and worked as a classroom teacher and learning center director; later, as a stay-at-home mom to two, Ms. Cromer found herself drawn back to school to volunteer.

Ms. Cromer became an active PTA member and School Council member and, after great success in leading at the school level, felt called to the School Board. Now in her fifth year on the School Board and her fourth year as the countywide-elected Chair, Ms. Cromer is well-respected locally and statewide for her knowledge of curriculum and instruction and dedication to continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

While the role is not defined as full-time, Ms. Cromer devotes herself to the post of School Board Chair as if it is, spending many hours visiting schools to engage with students and staff, listening to the community’s citizens, and representing CCSD at the state level to identify opportunities for further improving public education.

“Ms. Cromer may no longer work in the classroom, but the classroom still is in her heart,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “You can hear it in her comments when voting on an issue: she’s focused on what’s in the best interest of each of the children we serve. She couples that with a deep understanding of school district operations and her role as a policy maker and responsible steward of taxpayer resources. That combination is a rare find, and we’re so fortunate and appreciative to have her as our Board’s chair.”

School Board Member John Harmon of Hickory Flat congratulates a graduating senior at the commencement ceremony for Sequoyah High School.

John Harmon

After John Harmon recognized the positive difference he could make in the lives of Cherokee County youth through coaching baseball and basketball and serving on the Hickory Flat ES School Council, he decided in 2014 to try a larger playing field as a School Board member.

Mr. Harmon is hitting home runs there, too, as a leader known for his focus on the impact School Board decisions will have on children and families.

A Hickory Flat businessman and father of three, Mr. Harmon does his research before School Board meetings, asking the Superintendent of Schools for more information on decisions ranging from approval of the annual budget to new School Board policies governing operations. He’s a strong advocate for parents becoming more involved in their child’s school, such as by volunteering through PTA, serving on School Council, or participating in CCSD’s new VILLA parent academy program that he helped launch last year.

While he’s just as comfortable speaking in the boardroom as he is visiting a classroom, it’s clear that Mr. Harmon’s favorite part of being a School Board member is engaging with students, especially reading to elementary school classes and congratulating graduating high school seniors at commencement.

“Mr. Harmon uses his knowledge and experiences as a business owner, a community volunteer and a dad to three CCSD students when making important decisions as a School Board member, and that’s a very valuable triple play for our organization,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “His leadership style is collaborative and thoughtful, and that willingness to listen to others and value their opinions, along with the joy he experiences in supporting our students, makes him such a pleasure to serve alongside.”

School Board Member Patsy Jordan creates a pinhole projector to show students at Creekland Middle School, where she viewed the eclipse last year. Ms. Jordan used her CCSD business card to make a projector.

Patsy Jordan

Public schools have been a daily part of life for School Board Member Patsy Jordan of the Yellow Creek community for nearly all of her life.

She attended school here, found her first job here as a school custodian, went on to drive a school bus and then became one of our teachers – and a Teacher of the Year – before retiring and coming back in 2012 to serve as a School Board Member.

Her peers elected her Vice Chair last year for a one-year term, and the community re-elected her last year to a second four-year term.

Given her background as an outstanding teacher, it’s an easy A to guess she’d be a strong advocate for students and educators.  But she earns extra credit in the hearts of employees districtwide for being just as concerned about the “classified” workers, who prepare the meals, drive the buses and keep everything from the lights to the heat running.

Ms. Jordan is definitely in her element when the Board member role brings her to schools for special events like judging competitions and awarding honors, but her talent for teaching follows her wherever she goes, even as she speaks from the Board dais.

“Every time Ms. Jordan speaks, I learn something,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “She constantly looks for and finds teachable moments, and her care for every one of our students and employees is evident in all that she does and says. Her own love of learning, willingness to share knowledge and deeply rooted connections in this community make her an exemplary Board member and a caring friend and teacher to all.”

School Board Member visits with Woodstock High School engineering technology teacher Karen Zayance and some of her students.

Clark Menard

If you take a dad who’s engaged with his children’s education and add in an accountant’s knowledge, a love of technology and the willingness to volunteer in his community, the result would be School Board Member Clark Menard.

The Woodstock certified public accountant, whose degree in the field includes a specialization in information systems, joined the School Board in 2015 after serving as youth sports coach and PTA volunteer for his two daughters’ schools.

His expertise in financial management and accounting systems greatly benefits the School Board and the School District.  Mr. Menard regularly asks questions to further understand budget issues, and he proposes ideas to the Superintendent of Schools to continuously improve operational efficiencies.

Mr. Menard not only uses know-how from his profession to guide his service as a School Board member, but he also relies upon his experiences as a parent of two CCSD students in making policy decisions, reviewing student discipline matters and fulfilling the other responsibilities of his elected office.  Career education is another key issue for Mr. Menard, who strongly supports CCSD’s efforts to increase industry certification opportunities for students while in high school.

“We’re in the envious position of working with a School Board that’s made up of leaders with varied and valuable skill-sets, and Mr. Menard brings many talents to the table including his deep understanding of finance and technology,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “As we look to incorporating more business technology into our operations and further enhancing the career education opportunities for our students, we know we can rely upon Mr. Menard’s expertise and advocacy, which we’re so fortunate to have.”

School Board Member Kelly Poole, center, tours Mill Creek Middle School with Principal Dr. Kerry Martin and CCSD Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu.

Kelly Poole

School Board Member Kelly Poole of Canton is a natural-born volunteer.

Any time there’s an opportunity for School Board Members to participate – whether it’s judging a student technology contest, cheering on Special Olympians or surprising classrooms as a Read Across America guest reader – you can count on Ms. Poole.

Her passion for volunteering, through her two children’s schools from preschool through high school and in PTA committee and leadership roles, led Ms. Poole to join the School Board in 2015.

A bookkeeper with experience in nonprofits and their audits, Ms. Poole relies upon her insights as both a parent and a volunteer to make School Board policy decisions, advocate on behalf of students and look for more ways to engage parents and the community in schools.

She’s been a longtime supporter of adopting tools like the Canvas learning management system to give parents greater opportunities to be involved in their child’s education and communicate with their teachers. Ms. Poole participated throughout the School Board-initiated VILLA parent academy program launched this school year in collaboration with the Georgia School Boards Association. She sees the program as a way to not only better educate parents about their school system, but also to encourage more parents to become active school volunteers.

“Ms. Poole is on School Board Member duty at all times,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “She understands that she can shed neither her ‘mom’ hat nor ‘School Board Member’ hat at the door, but instead has melded the two roles into an authentic and effective voice advocating for every child we serve and every one of those children’s families.”

School Board Member Rick Steiner gets a hug from student Aiden Carr during a visit to Bascomb Elementary School.

Robert Rechsteiner

Robert Rechsteiner serves as a Cherokee County School Board member, but it’s his nickname that catches most people’s attention: Rick Steiner.

That’s because this longtime School Board member and community volunteer is renowned worldwide as a professional wrestling star under his nickname.

While today he’s wrestling the best deals he can for clients as a real estate agent, Mr. Rechsteiner has grown his fan base beyond the world of his first career to include thousands of Cherokee County students and their families who know him because of his community service.

His School Board post includes southwest Cherokee County, and that’s where he raised his three sons – who all graduated from Etowah High School – and where he became known in the community for volunteering in schools and with youth sports.

His support of schools and students is what led neighbors and friends to encourage him to join the School Board in 2006, and since then, he’s served not only as a Board member, but also as the Board’s Delegate to the Georgia School Boards Association. Mr. Rechsteiner, who earned his degree in education, is dedicated to reading up on budget and policy decisions… but his favorite part of School Board Meetings is when it’s a packed house of outstanding students there to be recognized with handshakes, hugs and words of congratulations from him and his fellow Board members.

“Mr. Rechsteiner for years has impressed me in many ways, but I’m most appreciative for his attitude of servant leadership,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “For someone so famous, he stays very humble and truly listens to and values the opinions of parents, our employees and his fellow School Board members.”


School Social Workers Have A Heart for the Job

Category : CCSD

March is National Social Work Month, and the first week of March is dedicated specifically to School Social Workers.  CCSD has three full-time social workers who assist the families of our 42,000 students in overcoming challenges that might affect their education.  Our social workers strive daily to connect families with community resources and provide interventions to address situations like homelessness, hunger, truancy, drug abuse, neglect and other challenges.   Last year, our three social workers made 793 home visits; handled more than 700 cases; made 1,500 parent contacts and provided assistance to 146 homeless students.   Perry Marshall, David McFerrin and Tara Quinn-Schuldt share a few insights about their work:

From left, David McFerrin (RRHS and SHS zones), Perry Marshall (CHS and CVHS zones), and Dr. Tara Quinn-Schuldt (EHS and WHS zones)

What drew you to the field of school social work?

During my years of teaching, I always enjoyed working with students who were at risk and struggling. I empathized with them because I understood some of the barriers they faced in getting a quality education. I was the first person in my family ever to earn a college degree. I will never forget my father’s reaction when I told him I wanted to go to college. The first words out of his mouth were “How do you expect to pay for it?” Some students do not see a path to college or technical school due to poverty, family issues, etc., especially when they don’t have someone to guide them in that direction. When an opportunity to work with at-risk families came available, I jumped at the opportunity and went back to school to get my certification in school social work. That was 28 years ago, and I have never looked back. Sometimes the work is heartbreaking, but it is also very rewarding. –Perry

I’ve always enjoyed hearing people talk about their dreams and goals and helping them find ways to reach them. Education is a critical component for children being able to build the life they want. Being a school social worker gives me an opportunity to help students and their families solve the problems and remove the barriers which stand in their way to getting a good education. — David

I think I was drawn to this field because my parents were community helpers, my father a fire fighter and my mother worked for the Department of Family and Children Services.  They really set the example for me on how we can help our fellow community members.  I also knew I wanted to work with children and school is where the kids are! –Tara

What would surprise most people about your job?

Most people think my job is sad and depressing, but I find it hopeful and optimistic. I’m constantly surprised by and impressed with people’s resiliency and ability to thrive in the face of horrible circumstances. I work with people whom I consider to be quite heroic every day, but you’ll never hear them on the radio or see them on TV. –David

Some people would be surprised to learn that during home visits, most families are very cordial and open to discussing issues they face. Occasionally, I may run across a hostile parent, but most of the time these families are just looking for answers and trying to do the best they can. Some may be hesitant to change habits that have been ingrained over several generations, but they listen, and sometimes are willing to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.  –Perry

What is your “typical” day like?

One thing I like about this job is that there really is no typical day. When you spend time visiting with families, you never know the story you or going to hear and what obstacles they need to overcome. I spend a lot of time visiting with families, looking for resources, attending parent/student conferences,  conferencing with teachers or administrators, preparing petitions for court or DFCS, facilitating our truancy panel collaborative, investigating situations involving homelessness, etc.  A typical day is sometimes overwhelming, but never boring.   -Perry

I always say, I typically have a plan for the day, but those plans must be flexible as I may get an emergent situation or a request for home visit that must be made immediately.  My day can consist of home visits, school meetings, local agency contacts and visits, meetings with children and/or a visit to the Juvenile Court.  Typically, I fly by the seat of my pants and juggle all the way!  –Tara

What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?

For me the biggest challenges are those situations in which I have tried everything I can think of to help and improve a situation, my toolbox is empty and nothing has worked.  I am able to refer these families for additional services but I just can’t fix everything and unfortunately have no magic wand!  It is easy to be told, “Hey you can’t fix everything,” but that reality can be hard to swallow when you are working with children.  I have to try and remember that “something is better than nothing” and to just keep trying to help one step at a time.  –Tara

What do you most want parents to know/understand about your role?

Often parents equate a school social worker with DFCS. We are not DFCS. We are not here to judge you and we certainly don’t want to damage you or your family in any way. We are here as a resource to help you and your family remove barriers to your child’s education.  — David

I would like parents to understand that my role is to help them so that their child can have a successful school experience! — Tara

You can learn more about our School Social Workers and their role at