River Ridge HS Student Wins Top Reading Award!

River Ridge HS Student Wins Top Reading Award!

Category : CCSD

Grace Pfohl

A Cherokee County School District student has been named the top high school reader in the State!

River Ridge High School junior Grace Pfohl won first place and the title of Reader of the Year for the Secondary category (Grades 9-12) at the Georgia Reading Association’s State Competition.  Students are nominated for the award by a reading or English teacher based on the quality, quantity and variety of their reading.  Winners are selected from nominees based on the student’s essay and teacher’s letter of recommendation.

Grace is an active member of both the school’s Tome Society literacy club and the Reading Bowl Team, as well as a member of the Teen Advisory Board for the Sequoyah Regional Library System.

“This award recognizes Grace’s passion for reading and her continuing contributions to literary leadership,” Principal Darrell Herring said.

She will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s June 21 meeting.


CCSD Accepting Applications for School Police Officers!

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Category : CCSD

police hiring image

HEROES WANTED: The Cherokee County School District is seeking applications from POST-certified police officers interested in joining our growing Police Department! Details at bit.ly/CCSDjoinPD Join the #CCSDfam to support the children we serve and our entire community!


CCSD Announces Class of 2018 Valedictorians, Salutatorians

vals and sals photos

Congratulations to the Valedictorians and Salutatorians for the Cherokee County School District’s Class of 2018!

These students and their parents will be honored by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the 18th Annual Scholar Recognition Banquet on Wednesday.  Each student also is invited to select a favorite teacher, and these teachers are honored at the Banquet as well.

“We’re so proud of these students and look forward to celebrating their accomplishment with them and their parents and teachers who helped them earn this impressive recognition,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “These students are our top academic achievers, and we wish them continued success in college and their careers.  Congratulations!”

Cherokee HS

Valedictorian Emily Endozo

Salutatorian Travis Main


Creekview HS          

Valedictorian Bryce Goodwyn

Salutatorian Gracen Wallace


Etowah HS   

Valedictorian Joseph Young

Salutatorian Samuel Wysocki


River Ridge HS        

Valedictorian Simon Yang

Salutatorian Emma Katherine Harrison


Sequoyah HS

Valedictorian Loren Alyssa Cagle

Salutatorian Mollie McNeil


Woodstock HS        

Valedictorian Sasha Stogniy

Salutatorian Taylor Shephard


CCSD Sets 2018-19 Open House/Walk-Through Schedule

Category : CCSD

The Cherokee County School District’s 2018-19 school year will begin on Wednesday, August 1. Each school’s front office will be open daily beginning Tuesday, July 17.

For students who are new to CCSD, parents may register them online this summer using our New Student Gateway; you still will need to present copies of legally required documents in person at the school for verification to complete enrollment.

Class schedules/teacher assignments will be available at each school’s scheduled open house/walk-through event.  These events are July 26-31.  Please see the schedule below for dates and times.

walk-throughs chart walk-throughs chart

First Student Tech Academy Participants Celebrate Completion

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Category : CCSD

Graduates of the first CCSD Student Technology Academy.

Fifth-grade students from Sixes ES and Clark Creek ES STEM Academy recently celebrated completion of a pilot CCSD technology program where they learned advanced Microsoft program skills that they will be using in middle and high school, and beyond.


The CCSD Student Technology Academy (STA) is a pilot program that mimics an initiative known as the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) for teachers. CCSD teachers have been earning the prestigious MIE endorsement by completing a 16-hour course, which is focused on 21st-century learning concepts combined with the acquisition of new skills using Microsoft tools in the classroom.

Student Tech Academy graduates (wearing their purple Microsoft One Note capes) were able to Skype with Microsoft Product Manager Mike Tholfsen, who answered students’ questions ranging from “Do you know Bill Gates?” to “Did you like technology when you were younger?”

Now that a majority of CCSD teachers have earned this endorsement, CCSD’s Office of Technology & Information Services developed STA as a way for students to follow a similar path and learn to use the same resources by interacting with their teachers and fellow students.

Connor Gunkler of Sixes ES waits with CCSD Technology Project Specialist Sandi Adams to ask a question during the Skype session.

“The Student Technology Academy has opened many doors for our fifth grade students at Sixes,” said Sixes ES Principal Cindy Crews. “I feel confident that we are sending these students to middle school fully capable of using the many Microsoft learning tools that are provided to them by our school district.”


The first STA class learned the following skills: Office365, including a variety of online “apps” for teachers, students and employees for content storage, creation and organization; Sway; Stream (formerly Office Mix); Outlook and proper use of email; One Note digital notebooks and presentations; Skype, video conferencing; and Coding programming concepts and computer science.


The students received a CCSD Certificate of Learning for completing STA and mastering skills that will aid their success in middle and high school, and in their college and professional careers.   Heather Ivers’ class at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy participated in the STA pilot, as well as Dr. Kyle Shugart’s class at Sixes ES. Marco’s Pizza provided pizza and cake for the students at the conclusion of their final day of STA, which included a field trip to the CCSD Technology facility where they engaged in coding activities and Skyped with a Microsoft executive.


“Students in CCSD begin as early as kindergarten to develop and build on basic computing skills aligned with the International Society for Technology (ISTE) Standards for Students – which provides a framework school districts can use to educate students on technology use in learning,” said CCSD Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount. “The Student Technology Academy ensures the skills, behaviors, responsibilities and potential of effective technology use are reinforced and allows students to attain validation of their accomplishment in mastery of these resources.”


The teachers were thrilled that their students had the opportunity to get acquire skills and tools they would be using for many years.


“I have really enjoyed watching my students grow technologically,” said Ms. Ivers. “They have become experts on Office 365, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Sway, Forms, and Coding, and they took every task on without complaints or without apprehensions. It has been amazing to see them work together and help each other with each assignment.”


Student Technology Academy graduates

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

Acree, Kyleigh

Adams, Brayden

Aranda, Jairo

Bravo, Christopher

Clark, Paige

Crane, Gabrielle

Eskew, Isabella

Gibson, Emma

Gonzalez, Imanol

Harrelson, Aidan

Helms, Sean

Jaimes, Saul

Jang, Suhan

Martinez Gaspar, Maritza

Medford, Benjamin

Mierzejewski, Carson

Morquecho-De La Cruz, Paola

Nguyen, Peter

Nuckles, Dashaun

Olwana, Laika

Padgett, Halen

Pennes Castillo, Daviel

Redmon, Natalia

Reed, Emma

Reed, John

Solis, Andrea

Thomas, Audrey


Sixes ES

Ashley, Logan

Branch, Jackson

Brown, Hudson

Carter, Anderson

Collins, Kaylee

Downey, Sarah

Drees, Andrew

Dukes, Landon

Farmer, Meghan

Foley, Ireland

Forbes, Ethan

Gunkler, Connor

Helms, Isaac

Hill, Madeline

Hobbs, Summer

Letaw, Madison

McKechnie, David

Mensonides, Ashley

Meredith, Lillian

Price, Alexius

Prince, Taylor

Reale, Logan

Reeves, Conner

Rule, Jackson

Sanders, Carol Ann

Spangler, Evan

Steffers, Alexander

Toth, Lauren

Trejo Hernandez, Javier

Liberty ES Wins International Award for Character Education!

Category : CCSD

National School of Character logo

A Cherokee County School District elementary school has won an international award for character education and service learning!

Liberty Elementary School on Friday, May 18, 2018 was one of 73 schools around the world — and the only one in Georgia — to be recognized by the nonprofit Character.org as a National School of Character.  The school will be honored at the organization’s 25th National Forum on Character in Washington, D.C. in October.

Liberty ES fourth-graders, from left to right, Jacob Duncan, Blake Spivey and Jaxon Pfanstiel, load donations up for Tony Endozo, husband of fourth-grade teacher Michelle Endozo, to bring with him to Puerto Rico while there for business.

Character.org advocates for all people to become “educated, inspired and empowered to be ethical and compassionate citizens.”  Its School of Character awards certify schools and school districts that are models of excellence for teaching students to recognize positive ethical and performance character traits and develop them in themselves.

“We talk a lot of rigor and relevance of the education we’re providing to children, but just as important is the culture we cultivate through character education and service learning,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “We’re extremely proud of the students and families, teachers and staff, and volunteers and partners, who together make Liberty Elementary School a place where #BeKind is more than a motto, it’s a way of life.”

Dr. Hightower praised Principal Doug Knott and Assistant Principals Dr. Pam L. Green and Rad Dixon for their leadership in making character education a priority.

The honor for Liberty ES follows its recognition in 2017 as a State School of Character and its wins in 2016 and 2017 for Promising Practices awards from the organization for specific service learning projects.  Dr. Green, who has led the school’s character education initiative, previously helped lead Carmel Elementary School to this State and National recognition; Principal Knott and Dr. Green have been invited to present a session at the National Forum on Character.

In addition to its National School of Character honor, Liberty ES also has won a 2018 Promising Practice Award for its fourth-grade service learning project, “Paying it Forward, Puerto Rico,” to help students there impacted by recent hurricanes.  This same group of students previously earned Promising Practice Awards for their projects as second-graders (“Have a Heart for Seniors Care Packages”) and third-graders (“Supplies for the Nicholas House  – Family Homeless Shelter”).

Children in Puerto Rico celebrate upon receiving donations and hand-written notes from Liberty Elementary School.


“At Character.org, we are extremely proud of this year’s National Schools of Character,” said Doug Karr, Character.org’s President & CEO. “Their dedication to character development is reducing the skills gap by equipping the future workforce with transferable relationship skills needed to meet tomorrow’s challenges.  Validating character initiatives is at the core of what we do, because they create fertile conditions for multi-generational character growth in communities of character.”


The Science of Sports: Booth MS Students Learn STEM Lessons from Baseball

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Category : CCSD

Note: A video about the Science of Baseball project can be viewed on the CCSD YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/ScienceOfBaseball .

photo of blooper

Braves mascot, Blooper, entertained students at the completion of their STEM unit on the science of baseball.

Students on the 7th grade Lookout Mountain team at E.T. Booth MS have been learning about the science behind the sport of baseball as the center of their STEM classroom activities this spring. Students and teachers celebrated the end of the unit this week with a visit from Atlanta Braves mascot “Blooper,” along with prize giveaways of Braves tickets and memorabilia.


Through a CCSD partnership with the Atlanta Braves, the Booth MS team teachers were able to work with Science of Sport, a nonprofit organization that develops curriculum with the sole focus of bringing sports and STEM subjects together.   The new curriculum was a “home run” with students and teachers, and is expected to be expanded to other CCSD middle schools next school year, as the district focuses on increasing the STEM rigor in its middle schools.

Blooper tests Hannelore Harmen’s reaction time with a baseball card.

Science teacher Kara Reeder said students engaged in activities such as building simple machine baseball players that could hit a ball; learning about trajectory and launch angle by studying home runs and taking batting practice; using mathematic concepts in laying out a strike zone and graphing coordinates; and learning about reaction time.


“The science of baseball allowed us to use 21st Century STEM skills for a fun and authentic project,” said Ms. Reeder. “It’s always fun to keep kids engaged at the end of the school year. To have a program that incorporates both the fun of baseball with something academic that we can tie in, is the perfect marriage. It’s been really engaging for them and enjoyable for us as teachers.”

The excitement about the STEM activities spread to reading classes where students read about famous baseball players and wrote persuasive letters to the Woodstock City Council asking them to consider bringing a minor league team to the city.

Aron Rooze with Science of Sport said he enjoyed watching the Booth MS students have fun while learning.


“The time in the classroom is the most fantastic part of my job,” said Rooze. “Seeing the kids and teachers engaged and using the suggested activity to learn a lesson is amazing. That is the true ultimate outcome that we want to have – for kids to have fun learning about STEM and be able to take the lesson they’ve learned and transfer it to all areas of their lives.


“We love working with Cherokee County and are looking forward to expanding the program in the future,” he said.


The Atlanta Braves will feature a showcase of the students’ work at the game on Sunday, May 20 at SunTrust Park. Weather permitting, the Booth MS students also will coordinate and host a wiffle ball game with teachers during the final days of school next week.

Board Briefs: School Board Reviews Budget – Smaller Class Sizes, Increased Safety & Security

Category : Board Briefs | CCSD

The School Board on Thursday, May 17, 2018, reviewed the Superintendent of Schools’ recommended tentative Annual Budget for 2018-19, which calls for continued reduction in class sizes, greater spending on safety and security measures and no tax rate increase.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower during the School Board’s work session presented the budget, which the Board tabled at its regular meeting, as is routine to allow for further review and three public hearings.  The hearings will be at 11:30 a.m. June 13 and 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 21 in the Board’s auditorium, followed by a vote on the budget at the 7 p.m. regular meeting on June 21.

The general fund, which is CCSD’s day-to-day operating budget, will grow to $406 Million for next school year from the current $385 Million, as a result of anticipated student enrollment growth of 750 students, the restoration of the final $4 Million in State “austerity budget cuts,” and a property tax digest that has finally recovered to 2008 pre-Recession levels.

The millage property tax rate is proposed to remain unchanged at 19.45 mills, and the budget calls for retaining $47 Million in reserves.  The building fund budget, which includes voter-approved Education SPLOST construction and technology projects, is planned to total $41 Million.

“We’re certainly thankful,” Chief Financial Officer Ken Owen said, after reporting on the first full “austerity budget cut” restoration since 2002 and the recovery of the Recession’s 30% drop in local property values.  “We’ve finally caught back up.”

The recovered funding is directed primarily back into the classroom, with instructional spending amounting to 67.5% of the operating budget, which overall calls for 87% of all expenditures to pay for personnel costs.  The increased classroom spending will add enough teachers – 55 – to bring average class sizes back to pre-Recession levels – a major priority for School Board Members.

“I really appreciate that you took our priorities and made them come to fruition so they’ll benefit our students,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said following the presentation by Dr. Hightower and Mr. Owen.  “That’s huge, and I appreciate it.”

Another significant focus is increased spending on safety and security, with measures funded in the budget including the hiring of an additional three CCSD School Police Department POST-certified police officers and two more school counselors and investing nearly $1 Million in the building fund to expedite construction of security foyers.

Other budget funding priorities include providing longevity step raises and a 1% cost-of-living salary increase to all eligible employees to maintain competitive compensation and bumping the starting teacher salary by $500 to $43,000.  The budget also calls for purchasing 30 school buses to replace older vehicles and hiring additional bus drivers and monitors, and expanding the school nurse and instructional lead strategist teacher coaches programs.

“Our School District is only as good as its employees, and I believe that investing in our people will pay dividends, with the ultimate outcome of student success and achievement,” Dr. Hightower said.

During its work session the School Board also heard a presentation by the independent external auditor, who reported the 2016-17 fiscal year audit received a clean opinion with no new findings or unresolved prior findings.

The School Board also:

  • Recognized the Office of Curriculum & Instruction for its leadership that led to CCSD being named an Innovative District for 2018 by International Center for Leadership in Education – one of only 11 school districts in the National to earn the designation;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2017-18 Positive Athlete Regional Winners and Scholarship Winners, and State Award winner Woodstock HS senior Trevor Melehan;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS freshman Rebekah Seng, recipient of Congressional Award, Bronze Medal;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2018 Georgia Scholars;
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2017-18 Governor’s Honors Finalists;
  • Recognized Creekview HS Aeronautics Rocketry Team as National Champions and International Qualifiers (competition is this summer) and its Drone Team as National Qualifiers (competition is this summer), and Creekland MS Aeronautics as National Qualifiers;
  • Recognized Mill Creek MS as a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship;
  • Recognized Georgia High School Association State and Regional Champions including students and coaches from the Cherokee HS Literary, Creekview HS Girls Lacrosse, Tennis and Soccer and Etowah HS Track & Field teams:
  • Recognized CCSD’s 2018 Aramark Education Scholarship winners;
  • Recognized the 2017-18 Student Advisor to School Board and Student Delegates for their service and commitment and presented each with graduation honor cords;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professional development;
  • Approved special lease agreements;
  • Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,
  • Approved the 2018-19 Discipline Code.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21, 2018

Teasley MS Teachers Win State Teaching Award!

Dr. Jennifer Reynolds and Greg Koch of Teasley Middle School have earned the Georgia Council for Exceptional Children’s Co-Teaching Team of the Year Award for 2017-18.

Two Cherokee County School District teachers have won a statewide teaching award!

Dr. Jennifer Reynolds and Greg Koch of Teasley Middle School have earned the Georgia Council for Exceptional Children’s Co-Teaching Team of the Year Award for 2017-18.

The Award recognizes a special education teacher and a general education teacher who teach together and “exemplify the best in differentiated instructional practices that meet the needs of all students.” Winners are selected based on instructional practices, positive learning environment, differentiated instruction, evidence of student progress, collaboration, leadership, and mentoring. Dr. Reynolds is a special education teacher, and Mr. Koch is a language arts teacher.

“Our School District is renowned for its high-quality special education services, and it’s outstanding teachers like Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Koch who earn us this reputation,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “They care deeply about all of the children in their classroom. Together, they work hard to ensure students’ needs are met no matter where the student is in his or her learning journey. We’re so proud of them and this honor.”

The Award will be presented at the Council’s IDEAS Conference in June at St. Simon’s Island on June 5.

Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Koch will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Board’s June 21 meeting.


CCSD Wins Top National Award for Excellence in Teaching Practices

Category : CCSD

innovative district logoThe Cherokee County School District has won a top national award for excellence in teaching practices!

The International Center for Leadership in Education, a division of global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has named CCSD an Innovative District for 2018 – one of only 11 school districts in the Nation to be recognized!

Selection is based on criteria including substantive, data-validated student academic growth; a strong student learning-centered culture; and dedication to transforming instruction to best serve students’ needs today and in the future.

“We’re most proud that the significant work over the last three years by our Office of Curriculum & Instruction and every one of our school administrators and classroom teachers is improving the education our students receive, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to receive National recognition for those efforts,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, noting he greatly appreciates the School Board’s support for the initiatives that led to the honor.

CCSD was recognized for its districtwide, multi-year plan to improve teaching and learning. This began with the implementation of the Instructional Framework standards for instruction and assessment, and continued with the introduction of Professional Learning Community teacher groups; the creation of the Instructional Lead Strategist teacher coaching positions; the formation of Data Teams for Learning to guide teachers in using data effectively; the development by teachers of Rigorous Curriculum Design lesson plans; and the mind-shift to begin true blended learning using resources such as the Canvas learning management system.

Dr. Nicole Holmes, Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Nicole Holmes, Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Hightower said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole H. Holmes and Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. Keith Bryant have played important leadership roles in the plan’s success.

“It’s a challenge to take a high-performing school district and identify how to further improve teaching and learning, and it’s an ever greater challenge to get buy-in from your organization that change is needed,” he said. “They’ve succeeded at both, which has resulted in stronger instruction and this extraordinary recognition.”

The Innovative District recognition includes presenting a session on best practices to teachers and education leaders from across the country at the Center’s 26th Annual Model Schools Conference this summer in Florida. CCSD leaders will present on the topic: “Becoming a System of Effective Instruction.”

Dr. Keith Bryant, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Keith Bryant, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction

“We applaud these inspiring districts for persevering on a path to rapid improvement by creating a positive systemwide culture of high expectations and strong, positive relationships,” said Dr. Willard R. Daggett, the Center’s founder and chairman.