Indian Knoll ES Media Specialist Wins State Honor for 2018

Indian Knoll ES Media Specialist Wins State Honor for 2018

UPDATE 6/11/2018: CCSD Media Specialist of the Year Jennifer Lewis has been 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.  This is the second year in a row that the state winner is a Cherokee County School District media specialist, following Cherokee High School’s Anne Nechvatal being named the recipient in 2017.

UPDATE 4/10/18…  Ms. Lewis has been named the North Central Georgia Regional Library Media Specialist of the Year for 2018!  She now is in the running for the Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year Award.  The state winner will be announced at the GLMA Summer Institute, June 11-12 in Peachtree City.  All regional winners will also be honored at the conference opening ceremony.

A video about the award presentation can be seen on the CCSD YouTube Channel at

Indian Knoll ES Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis sees her job as one of collaboration, exploration and revelation.  Each day the media center is a busy hive of activity, whether she is working with teachers at her school to extend classroom lessons into the media center, setting up Skype sessions to take children on virtual field trips to Alaska, or producing the morning newscast with students.  Ms. Lewis leads the Firebird Book Club, assists with the Techno Wizards club, and she constantly looks for new topics and resources to engage students’ interests—whether it’s biographies on professional wrestlers or technology-focused resources like Osmo kits.  As a personal goal, she strives to learn all the students by name so that she can recommend the perfect title for their next reading adventure.

Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools, surprises Indian Knoll Elementary School’s Jennifer Lewis with the news that she is the CCSD Media Specialist of the Year.

Ms. Lewis’ approach to managing the school media center as a hub of learning earned her the title of CCSD’s 2018 Media Specialist of the Year.   She was surprised with the announcement at a faculty meeting on Tuesday, March 6, by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes.

Dr. Hightower notes the importance of Ms. Lewis having started as a classroom teacher, giving her an insight into what teachers need from their media center.

“We are so, so proud of Jennifer; she is such an impressive educator,” said Dr. Hightower.  “People like Jennifer challenge me to the core. Kids deserve your A-game, they deserve the teacher’s A-game, and they deserve my A-game. It fills my heart to know that we’ve got people like Jennifer out there working hard for public education.”

“We have such an amazing group of hard working Media Specialists; I’m honored to represent them,” said Ms. Lewis. “The kids are the best part of my job, and I love helping them find books that they enjoy reading, and I love teaching them things about new technology that they didn’t know. I love the combination of literature and technology.”

Indian Knoll ES Principal Dr. Ann Gazell said Ms. Lewis has been a stellar addition to the school staff and a source of support and inspiration.

“When Jennifer came in to interview, she walked in with a plan and a purpose of what her vision was for our media center,” said Dr. Gazell. “It was a no-brainer to hire her. She has never, ever let me down.”

Jason Blakey, right, congratulated Ms. Lewis on behalf of Credit Union of Georgia, which sponsored the award.

The Indian Knoll ES staff gives Jennifer Lewis a standing ovation in recognition of her selection as Media Specialist of the Year.

As the CCSD Media Specialist of the Year, Ms. Lewis received a plaque, a Kindle and a celebratory cake, compliments of sponsor Credit Union of Georgia.  Ms. Lewis was also presented flowers by her husband, Mark, and son, Caleb, (their daughter, Katherine, was competing at a high school tennis match and could not attend), and her parents, Theresa and Gary Wallpe.

Dr. Ann Gazell, Principal of Indian Knoll ES, shares a story about when she hired Ms. Lewis.

From left, Dr. Ann Gazell, Principal of Indian Knoll ES; Ms. Lewis’ parents Gary and Theresa Wallpe; Caleb Lewis; Mark Lewis; Jennifer Lewis; and Superintendent Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Ms. Lewis will represent CCSD in the State Media Specialist of the Year competition.

River Ridge HS Graduate Wins National Merit College Scholarship from Emory University

Category : CCSD

A Cherokee County School District graduate has earned a National Merit College Scholarship from Emory University. River Ridge HS 2018 graduate Irene Chen is one of 3,500 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution.

Irene Chen

Irene Chen

Irene was one of five National Merit Finalists from Cherokee County Schools announced in February. These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. An additional group of Scholars will be announced in July, bringing the total number of college-sponsored Merit Scholarship recipients in the 2018 competition to about 4,000.

This year, 178 higher education institutions are underwriting Merit Scholarship awards through the National Merit Scholarship Program. Sponsor colleges and universities include 100 private and 78 public institutions located in 44 states and the District of Columbia.


College-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners announced this week are a part of the distinguished group of about 7,500 high school seniors who will receive National Merit

Scholarships for college undergraduate study worth over $31 million. Earlier this spring,

NMSC announced winners of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and National Merit $2500 Scholarships.

Three CCSD Administrators Named ‘Young Professionals to Watch’

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, during the June Good Morning Cherokee breakfast, recognized the 2018 group of “Cherokee County’s Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch.” These rising stars recognized as Cherokee County’s next generation of community leaders include three CCSD administrators:  Leah Bleisath, Assistant Principal at Creekland Middle School; Michael Manzella, Principal at ET Booth Middle School; and Julie Peppers, Assistant Principal at Carmel Elementary School.

“We are extremely proud of Ms. Bleisath, Mr. Manzella and Ms. Peppers,” said Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools. “While clearly we recognized the talent, character and ability in all three of these outstanding leaders within our district, it is good to know that the business and professional community recognizes the same ‘rising star’ potential that we see in them.  Congratulations to each of them. ”

photo of leah

Leah Bleisath

photo of mike

Michael Manzella

photo of julie

Julie Peppers


The 2018 class of honorees includes:

Jessica Akers, Director, Falany Performing Arts Center & Adjunct Instructor of Business, McCamish School of Business;

Tori O’Bryant, Practice Coordinator, Northside Hospital-Towne Lake Primary Care;

Leah Bleisath, Assistant Principal, Creekland Middle School;

Julie Peppers, Assistant Principal, Carmel Elementary School;

Jennifer Puckett, Co-Owner, In Harmony Pediatric Therapy/Owner, Therabeat, Inc.

Ollie Evans, Chiropractor and Clinic Director, Holly Springs Chiropractic and Massage;

Heath Matiak, General Manager/Co-Owner, R & D Mechanical Services;

Nick Estes, Vice President of Finance, Chart, Inc.;

Brandon Roberts, Founder, Branches of Faith;

Michael Manzella, Principal, E.T. Booth Middle School.


CCSD Bus Drivers Headed to State Road-E-O!

CCSD school bus driver Christine Minter, who drives routes for the Etowah Zone, won first place at the 38th annual CCSD BusRoad-E-O competition and will represent the District at the statewide competition on June 6 and 7.

Cherokee County School District school bus drivers are headed to State competition this month!

CCSD school bus driver Christine Minter, who drives routes for the Etowah Zone, won first place at the 38th annual CCSD Bus Road-E-O competition and will represent the District at the statewide competition on June 6 and 7.  Two CCSD school bus drivers also will compete in the State event’s Special Education division: Paige Waters and Debbie Prater.

Eighty-eight CCSD bus drivers competed in the District event, which included driving, pre-trip inspection and written tests.  Mary Stout and Max Woodall tied for second, and Jerry Thornton placed third.


CCSD Employees Learn to “Stop the Bleed”

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Category : CCSD

A brief video about this event can be viewed on our YouTube channel here:

Paramedic demonstrates direct pressure wound care to teachers.

CCSD Preschool Centers Principal Vicky Thom, left, listens as paramedic Reginald Thurmon explains how to pack gauze into a wound to stop severe bleeding.

More than 300 CCSD teachers, administrators and support staff underwent “Stop the Bleed” training on Wednesday, May 30, to learn how to apply direct pressure and tourniquets to assist victims in the event of an emergency situation. The training, facilitated by Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, also provides a dozen “Stop the Bleed” emergency kits for each school, containing tourniquets, gauze and other medical supplies needed to stem severe bleeding. All CCSD schools participated in the training, which was held at 18 school sites across the county.

firefighter displays supplies in a kit

Cherokee County Fire & ES instructor Bryan Thomas explains the contents of a Stop the Bleed kit. Each school received 12 kits to be placed throughout their facility as part of the training.


The day began with a “train the trainer” session at Cherokee High School, where school nurses worked with Fire ES instructors, staff from Northside Hospital Cherokee and other medical professionals from the community to receive their training, led by Sgt. Nate Sullivan with Fire & ES. Then the nurses and Fire & ES instructors trained teachers, administrators and support staff out at school sites in the afternoon. The training consists of both a presentation and hands-on instruction.



nurse instructs teachers on how to apply direct pressure to a wound

Teasley MS nurse Kathy Thomas, left, assists Teasely MS Principal Dr. Ben Lester, right, as he practices filling an open “wound” with gauze. Assistant Principals John Carter and Liz Spell look on.


“Everyone I interacted with from the school system was enthusiastic, receptive, and accommodating. It was great to see how stakeholders from the community came together to achieve such an important goal,” said Sgt. Sullivan. “We essentially taught 18 ‘Stop The Bleed’ classes for over 320 school staff, simultaneously, and completed the entire school system in one day. Everyone involved did a stellar job.”


“We appreciate the assistance from Cherokee Fire and Emergency Services in helping train hundreds of teachers, administrators and support staff across our schools yesterday,” said Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools. “While we certainly hope none of our staff members will have to use these skills in an actual emergency, we are committed to being proactive and being prepared to help save lives.”

firefighter teaches a class

CCSD school nurses listen as instructor Sgt. Nate Sullivan with the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services agency explains the Stop the Bleed program.


CCSD Lead Nurse Gwen Chambers said the school nurses were very receptive to the training and partnering with the county fire department to deliver it to schools. “School Nurses are proud to be a resource to school staff for training such as ‘Stop The Bleed,’” said Ms. Chambers. “The kits and additional skills to utilize the kits will supplement existing safety and security plans for students and staff.”

one teacher ties a tourniquet on another

Ralph Bunche Center’s Connie Gonyea practices using a tourniquet on co-worker Anne Marie Corley.


Cherokee County Fire Chief Tim Prather noted that Sgt. Sullivan’s initiative in bringing the program to Cherokee County, along with the school district’s readiness to participate, has created a safer community for everyone.


“A huge ‘thank you’ from the Cherokee County Fire Chief’s office to the Cherokee County School System for your partnership, acceptance and participation in the program,” said Chief Prather.   “As we come to work each day, we do not know what will be thrown at us in public safety. Now, we have not only increased the awareness, but we have personnel trained in every schoolhouse in Cherokee County that may make the difference in a victim being a survivor or fatality.”


Georgia launched the nationwide “Stop the Bleed” campaign in 2017, that puts knowledge gained by first responders and military into the hands of the public to help save lives by stopping uncontrolled bleeding in emergency situations.

If bleeding is severe, it can kill within minutes, potentially before trained responders can arrive. Research has shown that bystanders, with little or no medical training, can become heroic lifesavers. Similar to the use of CPR or automatic defibrillators (AED), improving public awareness about how to stop severe bleeding can be the difference between life and death for an injured person. Currently the campaign has been funded to train and equip all Georgia Public Schools with bleeding control kits.

For more information, see the website at

River Ridge HS Student Wins Congressional Art Contest!

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Category : CCSD

image of students and artwork

A Cherokee County School District student has won a Congressional art contest!

River Ridge High School Class of 2018 graduate Graciella Elaine won first place for her work, “The Magician,” in this year’s 11th District Congressional Art Competition. The honor, which was presented to Graciella by U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, includes a $13,000 scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design, as well as scholarships to the Art Institute of Atlanta and Wesleyan College in Macon. Graciella also won two round-trip tickets to Washington, D.C. to view her artwork in the halls of Congress, where it will be displayed for the next year.

Rising junior Ragan Martin won third place in the competition, and her work, “Haunting Beauty,” was recognized, along with other select artists from the Congressional District, in a local exhibit. As part of her honor, Ragan received a $3,500 scholarship to the Art Institute and a $3,000 scholarship to Wesleyan.

Their art teachers are Mary Jo Mulvey and Chris Akins.

CCSD to Offer Second Annual Parent Academy Program

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District is accepting applications for its second annual parent academy program.

Developed by the Georgia School Boards Association, VILLA (Volunteer Instructional Leadership Learning Academy) offers parents the opportunity to learn more about the public schools in their community.  This past school year, CCSD became the first school district in the state to pilot the program.

Through the free six-session program offered in the fall, participants learn more about CCSD, including an overview of its governance model and the role of School Board members, Major System Priorities and CCSD day-to-day operations.  The program includes question-and-answer sessions with School Board members, the Superintendent and senior staff.

Applications are due by Sept. 7; the application is available here: CCSD Villa 2018-19 Application Brochure.

GCA Seeking Applicants for School Custodians for CCSD Schools

Category : CCSD

Please see the following information from CCSD vendor, GCA:

job wanted ad image

GCA, an ABM company, is seeking SCHOOL CUSTODIANS for the K-12 schools in Cherokee County.

This full-time, year-round job starts at $10.00/hour, with opportunities for advancement. The open shift is 3:00pm – 11:30pm, Monday – Friday during the school year; and 7:00am – 3:30pm Monday – Friday during the summer. Part-time hours are available for both shifts. Duties include sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, emptying trash, wiping down restrooms and classrooms, and other cleaning or maintenance duties as assigned. Candidates must be able to satisfactorily pass a background check. Cleaning experience is preferred, but not necessary. Benefits are available to full-time employees after a mandatory waiting period.


Woodstock HS Announces Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Category : CCSD

Woodstock High School today announced that Coach Josh Pierce will take over as head coach for its men’s basketball program!

Josh Pierce

Coach Pierce, who is in his sixth year teaching and has taught PE and coached at Woodstock HS for the past two years, began his basketball career 20 years ago as a First Team All-State player at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.  He played college basketball for Tennessee Temple and Cumberland University, where in his senior year he helped lead the team to its third-best season ever (22-9).  Coach Pierce also played football his final season at Cumberland.

After teaching and coaching at Spring Hill High School in Columbia, Tenn., Coach Pierce joined the Woodstock HS staff, and his coaching roles have included assistant basketball coach, assistant football coach, and strength and conditioning coordinator.

“My goal is to continue the success that our basketball program has developed in the past three years under Mr. Kingston Clark, both on and off the court,” Coach Pierce said, adding he is grateful to the school’s leadership and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower for the opportunity.  “There has been an exciting buzz surrounding Woodstock Basketball as of late, and I intend to continue that with the support of great administration, coaching staff, and parents and supporters.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.  We are Woodstock!”

Woodstock HS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Chris Bennett said the school is excited about Coach Pierce leading the program, which is in 7A competition, Georgia’s largest classification.

“He brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and a great enthusiasm for the game, our student athletes and for Woodstock High School. He has been an integral part of the success here in multiple programs, and we look forward to what he brings as the new head coach of our men’s basketball program,” Mr. Bennett said.  “I believe our student athletes will respond to his energy and enthusiasm.  He has a lot to offer our program.”


CCSD Offering Free Summer Meals through USDA Program!

Category : CCSD

summer fruit

Cherokee County School District is again participating in the USDA Seamless Summer Option, which offers free meals to children during the summer.

The meals are available to youth 18 years of age or younger and runs June 6 to July 20, Monday through Friday, with no meal service July 4-6 (other exceptions noted below); all meals must be consumed on site. The distribution sites and times are listed below.

summer meals logoAlmost one-third of CCSD students qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, and this program ensures that children continue to have access to nutritious meals throughout the summer break.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; no CCSD funds are expended for this program.

For more information, please contact CCSD’s School Nutrition Department at 770-721-8419.

Allen Temple AME Church
232 Arnold Mill Road
Woodstock, GA 30188
Breakfast: 8-8:15 a.m.
Lunch: 10:45-11 a.m.

Cherokee High School
930 Marietta Hwy.
Canton, GA 30114
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
(Meals served June 6-29; July 9-20)

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy
3219 Hunt Road
Acworth, GA 30102
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30–10:45 a.m.
(Meals served June 11-29)

Clayton Elementary School
221 Upper Burris Road
Canton, GA 30114
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30–10:45 a.m.
(Meals served June 11-29)

East Gate Mobile Home Park
6310 Bells Ferry Road
Acworth, GA 30102
Lunch: 11:15-11:30 a.m.

Etowah HS East Campus
6500 Putnam Ford Drive
Woodstock, GA 30189
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: Noon–12:30 p.m.
(Meals served June 6-29; July 9-20)

Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy
205 Brown Industrial Parkway
Canton, GA 30114
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30–10:45 a.m.
(Meals served June 11-29; July 9-13)

Hidden Falls Mobile Home Park
6359 Bells Ferry Road
Acworth, GA 30102
Lunch: 10:45 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.

Noonday Mobile Home Park
200 Dupree Road
Woodstock, GA 30189
Lunch: 11–11:15 a.m.

Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy
6118 Woodstock Road
Acworth, GA 30102
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30–10:45 a.m.
(Meals served June 11-29)

Teasley Middle School
151 Hickory Log Drive
Canton, GA 30114
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30-10:45 a.m.
(Meals served June 11-29; July 9-13)

Woodstock High School
2010 Towne Lake Hills South Drive
Woodstock, GA 30189
Breakfast: 7:45–8 a.m.
Lunch: Noon-12:30 p.m.
(Meals served June 4-29; July 9-20)

YMCA Canton- G. Cecil Pruett Community Center Family YMCA
151 Waleska Street
Canton, GA 30114
Breakfast: 8:15-8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – Noon

YMCA Woodstock- Cherokee Outdoor Family YMCA
201 E. Bells Ferry Road
Woodstock, GA 30189
Breakfast: 8:15-8:30 a.m.
Lunch: Noon-12:30 p.m.

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