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.


Two CCSD Teachers Named Global Minecraft Mentors!

Category : CCSD

Two Cherokee County School District teachers have been selected for the Microsoft Education Global Minecraft Mentor Program!

Lisa Lougheed

Carmel ES teacher Merry Willis and Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lisa Lougheed were selected to join the elite group of 300 Mentors worldwide. The extensive application process hand-selected representatives from more than 70 countries.

“Game-based learning is gaining significant momentum worldwide, and it is great to see CCSD having a seat at the table to help steer the direction,” Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount said. “There is no doubt they will represent CCSD well.”

Ms. Lougheed and Ms. Willis will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Board’s meeting on Feb. 15.

Merry Willis

The Program’s main objectives are to: gather expert feedback on Minecraft: Education Edition and related products; support educators on their Minecraft journey; and connect like-minded educators to push game-based learning forward around the world.

Mentors receive the following benefits: direct access to the Minecraft Education team for product feedback and support; A Minecraft: Education Edition Mentor account; advance notice about and early access to upcoming product releases; priority access and selection for webinars, speaking engagements, and other opportunities; an exclusive badge on education.minecraft.net; and other benefits.


CCSD Graduation Rate Rises to New Heights

Graduation rate chart

The Cherokee County School District’s four-year graduation rate is rising to new heights!

The School District’s four-year graduation rate climbed to a record high of 86.5% for 2017, up from 84.7% for 2016, according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Education. The rate also continues to exceed the statewide average, topping the State’s 2017 rate of 80.6%.

“While we are proud of this significant improvement, we remain committed to the success of all students… the inverse of these rates is not a ‘dropout’ rate, but includes many of our most challenged students,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “These students often need a little more time and support to earn their diploma whether due to special needs, a medical issue or struggles at home.”

school graduation ratesDr. Hightower said several programs, including ACE Academy alternative day school, Polaris Evening School, online credit recovery courses, graduation coaching and the CHOICE special education program, have contributed to increasing rates.

“Graduation is the celebration of our students’ lifetime of work so far, supported by their families, teachers and the entire school community,” Dr. Hightower said. “Together, we are ensuring that our ‘emerging generation’ is ready for future success!”

CCSD Outscores State, Nation on Redesigned SAT

SAT scores graphic

UPDATE 10/17/17: Detailed reports from The College Board show CCSD’s 2017 SAT scores to be among the highest in Georgia– and first among county school districts in Metro Atlanta! All of CCSD’s high schools earned average scores in the top 15% of high schools in the state, with a total score difference of less than 6% among CCSD schools.

Students who take the SAT also complete a questionnaire when they register for the test, which generates additional information about a school district’s test takers, from class rank and college preferences to intended majors and degrees. CCSD students who ranked in the top 10% of their class scored nearly 200 points higher than the district average, with a score of 1316!

Students taking the SAT can select 3-5 colleges to send their scores to; CCSD students chose Kennesaw State University, University of Georgia and University of North Georgia as their top three public universities inside the state. University of Alabama, Auburn University and University of Tennessee were the top out-of-state colleges chosen by CCSD’s class of 2017, and Reinhardt University, Emory University and Mercer University led the private college list.

CCSD students taking the SAT last year were most interested in fields of study that involved healthcare, engineering and business. Students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree or higher tended to score 100 points better than those students whose parents had only a high school diploma.


9/26/17: Cherokee County School District’s Class of 2017 outscored the State and National averages on the newly redesigned SAT, according to data released today by the College Board.

The test now includes two 800-point sections: Evidence Based Reading & Writing (ERW) and Mathematics, with a possible total score of 1600; in recent years, the test included three 800-point sections, with a possible total score of 2400. The third section, a writing exam, is now optional.

The CCSD Class of 2017 earned an average total score of 1121 (569 ERW; 552 Math), which tops the National average by 61 points and the State average by 71 points. The curriculum-based, college entrance and placement exam is the most commonly recognized measure of achievement for high school students.

“While increasing test scores is not our focus, this exceptional performance shows we’re succeeding in our mission of preparing students for college and career readiness,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Congratulations to these students, their families, teachers and everyone in our CCSD community who makes accomplishments like this possible!”

All CCSD high schools achieved an average score above the National and State average on the exam, which measures critical reading and mathematics abilities that are related to successful performance in college.

As the test was redesigned, it’s impossible to be compared to last year’s results, but CCSD continues to perform higher than National and State levels with strong participation… which also was illustrated by outstanding ACT college-entrance exam results released earlier this month.

These scores will be analyzed by Principals and their Leadership and Data Management Teams to review teaching practices and set new performance goals. Counselors also use the results to recommend entrance exams that best suit each student’s strengths and needs.

“Our School District is dedicated to ‘Educating the Emerging Generation,’ and that’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly,” Dr. Hightower said. “We’re focused on continuous improvement, and we will use these results to further hone our practices to ensure each child in our community receives the best education possible.”

SAT results chart

SAT Schools Results Chart

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

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

Category : CCSD

UPDATE 5/7/18: Congrats to CCSD Lead Nurse Gwen Chambers, who was congratulated by State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods for being named Georgia’s Nurse Administrator of the Year by the Georgia School Nurses Association! #CCSDfam

UPDATE 5/7/18: Congrats to CCSD Lead Nurse Gwen Chambers, who was congratulated by State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods for being named Georgia’s Nurse Administrator of the Year by the Georgia School Nurses Association! #CCSDfam


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 Nat

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.

ional 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.

CCSD Seventh-Graders Recognized by Duke University

Category : CCSD

Duke TIP logoMore than 30 Cherokee County School District seventh-graders have been recognized by Duke University for their SAT and ACT scores!

The Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) supports academically talented seventh-graders who have previously scored at or above the 95th percentile on a standardized test such as CogAT by providing them with the opportunity to take the SAT and ACT, which are college-entrance exams designed for above-average 11th- and 12th-grade students.

This year, 116 CCSD students participated in the program, with 31 students earning State-level honors, and two students – Justin Bolsen of Creekland MS and Sophie Williams of Freedom MS — additionally earning Grand-level recognition.

These students were invited to a Duke University Recognition Ceremony and will be recognized by the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools and School Board at today’s School Board meeting.

The CCSD honorees are:

Creekland MS
Justin Bolsen, Jessica Hickman, Joshua Mays, Callahan Pace, Ciana Ruggiero

Dean Rusk MS
Adam Brooks, George Chemmala, Thomas Nguyen

E.T. Booth MS
Joseph Didzbalis, Samantha Sapere, Kyleigh Wallace

Freedom MS
Naomi Clark, Audrey Edwards, Ayden Fountain, Gabriela Isaac, Connor MacMillan, Brendan Stewart, Will Sumner, Grace Webb, Sophie Williams and Everett Wise

Mill Creek MS
Autumn Bailey, Sarah Fraser, Dylan Herrick, Rachel Kim, Carter Macdonald, Carson Portis, Matthew Stevens, James Tham, Megan Wasson

Teasley MS
Lauren Kinney, Madi Mathews

Woodstock MS
Tyler Haleblian

Congratulations to CCSD’s STAR Students & Teachers!

Congratulations to this year’s Cherokee County School District STAR Students and Teachers!

The Canton and Woodstock Lions Clubs recently honored CCSD students and teachers at their annual STAR Student and Teacher Recognition Ceremony held earlier this month at the Cherokee Arts Center in downtown Canton. These honorees will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the March 16, 2017 School Board meeting.

The STAR, or Student Teacher Achievement Recognition, Student honor is awarded to the student from each Cherokee County public and private high school with the highest score on any single test date of the SAT (taken through the November test date of their senior year) and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. Each honored student is invited to select his or her favorite teacher to be named that school’s STAR Teacher.

High school STAR Students compete for system titles, and the overall Cherokee County STAR Student is Isabelle Riddle from Sequoyah High School! Her STAR Teacher is Dr. Wendy Roberts.

System STAR Students compete for region-wide honors in the 12 STAR Regions, and Region winners are invited to Atlanta to compete for the state PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) STAR scholarships and awards. STAR Teachers continue on with their STAR Students at every level of the program.

“Congratulations to all of our STAR Students and Teachers!” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We greatly appreciate the Lions Clubs and PAGE recognizing and celebrating excellence in teaching and learning in our schools. We look forward to honoring these top scholars and educators with our School Board!”

Cherokee HS
STAR Student: Pragya Sharma
STAR Teacher: Charley Ingham

Creekview HS
STAR Student: Austin Miles
STAR Teacher: Wendy McCarron

Etowah HS
STAR Student: Brandon Baker
STAR Teacher: Dr. Wright Vermilya

River Ridge HS
STAR Student: Anabelle Paulino
STAR Teacher: Joy Clarkston

Sequoyah HS
STAR Student: Isabelle Riddle
STAR Teacher: Dr. Wendy Roberts

Woodstock HS
STAR Student: A.J. Cox
STAR Teacher: Debbie Hipp

CCSD School Named a 2017 State School of Character – only school in Georgia honored!

A Cherokee County School District school has been named a 2017 State School of Character for its commitment to character education!

The honor, awarded to Liberty Elementary School by the international Character.org nonprofit organization, was bestowed to only 80 schools nationwide. Liberty ES is the only school from Georgia to win the designation!

Recipients are considered models of excellence within their states for teaching students to recognize positive ethical and performance character traits and develop them in themselves.


Principal Doug Knott

Honorees are “role models for preparing students to live and lead with integrity, in addition to providing an engaging, dynamic education,” said Dour Karr, President and CEO of Character.org. “These schools represent the hundreds of thousands of people working on their character, showcasing the process of where ‘I’ meets ‘we’ for positive change. Their stories encourage us to take the character movement beyond schools and into our own individual growth stories. They are an inspiration to us all.”

Liberty ES now will be evaluated for the National School of Character designation, which will be announced in May.

“We are so proud whenever our schools are recognized for outstanding teaching and learning, and this award is especially heart-warming,” Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We want every child to learn not only their academics and career skills, but also to be a good person and citizen, who treats others with kindness and respect. Congratulations to the entire Liberty Elementary community for this commendable achievement!”

Assistant Principal Dr. Pam L. Green

Principal Doug Knott said, in addition to thanking students, staff and the school community, he wanted to especially recognize Assistant Principal Dr. Pam L. Green, who has led the school’s initiative and previously successfully guided Carmel Elementary School to this State and National recognition.

“Her expertise has been instrumental in the growth of our school community in the area of character education,” Principal Knott said. “We are truly fortunate to have her experience with this process as we move toward this national distinction! Thanks to all for their support as we have worked to bring this honor to the Liberty Elementary community and CCSD!

The school last year was named a Promising Practices awards winner by Character.org – one of only four schools in the State to be honored. Liberty ES won two awards: one for its “Have a Heart for Seniors” service-learning program and the other for initiatives by its Student Leadership Team.

Liberty Elementary also has received statewide attention for its successful use of the #BeKind program to encourage positive behavior and acts of service.

Woodstock HS Assistant Principal Inducted into Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame & Named Region’s Athletic Director of the Year!

Woodstock High School Assistant Principal Tonya Sebring has been inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame and named the Region 4-AAAAAAA Athletic Director of the Year!

Election to the Hall of Fame is considered one of the most prestigious recognitions awarded to high school and college softball and baseball coaches in the State.  This year’s inductees were recognized by the organization, the official statewide organization for softball and baseball coaches, earlier this month.  She will be honored as a Region Athletic Director of the Year at the annual Georgia Athletic Director’s Association conference in Savannah, March 24-27.

Tonya Sebring

Assistant Principal Sebring, who also serves as the school’s Athletic Director, as a player, was the first fast-pitch recruit for Kennesaw State University and a member of its inaugural fast-pitch team.  She was inducted into the 2006 KSU Circle of Honor in recognition of her leadership in the sport.

She went on to coach at Woodstock High School from the school’s inception in 1996 until 2007.  Under her leadership, Woodstock’s team won three Region titles, State runner-up in 2005 and the State 5A Championship in 2006.  Coach Sebring was named Georgia’s High School 5A Coach of the Year in 2006.

In 2008, Coach Sebring took over the Etowah High School softball program.  In her second season, she led the Lady Eagles to their first Region Championship in the history of the school’s fast-pitch program.  During her four-year tenure at Etowah HS, she led her team three times to the State playoffs, advancing to the Sweet 16 her final season.

During her coaching career, Coach Sebring served for eight years as the State Softball Chair for the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association.  In 2012, Coach Sebring stepped down from coaching and entered into high school administration.

Assistant Principal Sebring will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Feb. 2, 2017 School Board meeting.