CCSD Teacher Named Georgia Conservation Teacher of the Year!

CCSD Teacher Named Georgia Conservation Teacher of the Year!

Category : CCSD

monarch butterfly

A Cherokee County School District teacher has been named the Georgia Conservation Teacher of the Year!

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy Discovery Science Lab teacher Karen Garland has won the state title and a $1,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The award, made possible with funding from The Environmental Resources Network, is given annually to one third- through fifth-grade public or private school teacher in Georgia who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences.

Karen Garland

Ms. Garland will use the grant to begin the “Campaigning for Pollinators” project, which was inspired by her students’ idea to convert a monoculture of grass outside their school into a healthy habitat for pollinators like butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

“Clark Creek Elementary is dedicated to fostering all students’ innate curiosity by empowering them to be independent problem-solvers through a variety of opportunities,” Ms. Garland said. “Through this approach, students see how classroom subjects relate to the real world.”

Through the project, students will design the garden, plant native perennials and record the species observed to a citizen science database. Students will share the responsibilities of watering, weeding, and gathering data. A field guide of butterfly host and nectar plants will be created for use in the media center. As part of the school’s STEM Day in May, students will grow and distribute milkweed (the only host plant for monarch butterflies) and educational brochures to the community.

“We love that Mrs. Garland’s project is student-driven. Third-graders saw butterflies flying overhead, but they never stopped since there was nothing there for them to eat or drink,” said Linda May, DNR Environmental Outreach Coordinator. “The students understood the importance of pollinators and wanted to help, so they thought of ways to provide suitable habitat at their school.”

The judges were impressed by the project’s cross-curricular creativity, student collaboration across grade levels and in-kind donations. The project also will be funded with donations from Lowe’s, Cherokee County Master Gardeners, Save Our Monarchs and Monarchs Across Georgia.

Ms. Garland will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Nov. 16 Board meeting.


Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Wins International Organization’s Award for STEM Education!

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy has received an international organization’s top honor for excellence in technology and engineering education!

The school has been named the Georgia winner of the 2017 Program Excellence Award presented by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) and Paxton-Patterson.

Principal Joey Moss

“Through the review process, it was recognized that our school’s technology and engineering education program is truly exemplary among other programs in our state,” Principal Joey Moss said. “Our students are the ones who will have richer lives as a result. Not many endeavors are more important than helping students become technologically literate and learn more about the world around them.”

ITEEA praised the school for the “tremendous amount of work and dedication that is required to design, maintain, and improve quality programs like yours.”
This news follows two consecutive years of top accolades for the school: in 2015, it earned the prestigious State STEM Certification… only the 11th elementary school in Georgia to earn this commendation, and the first in Cherokee County; and last year, the school was recognized as a finalist for the Technology Association of Georgia’s STEM Certified School Outreach Award.

“Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy is an outstanding example of innovative academic school choice,” Dr. Hightower said, noting the school is one of CCSD’s six award-winning Cherokee Academies open to all CCSD elementary school students. “Not only does Clark Creek soar like its RedHawk mascot among schools statewide, these achievements are especially remarkable given its Title I status due to the economic challenges many of its students and their families face. We’re so proud of this continued success!”

Principal Moss said the support of the entire school community — including business partners — made the ITEEA recognition possible, and she especially appreciates the efforts of Teresa Bailey, the school’s Odyssey Lab teacher, who prepared the award application and fifth-grade teacher Cindy Reeves.

Teresa Bailey

Cindy Reeves

Ms. Bailey and Ms. Reeves will join Principal Moss in presenting at the ITEEA Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas from March 16-18, 2017, and they will be recognized at the Conference’s Program Excellence Ceremony. They will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower at the April 20 School Board meeting.