Board Briefs: School Board Appoints New School Leaders, Mill Creek MS Classroom Addition

Board Briefs: School Board Appoints New School Leaders, Mill Creek MS Classroom Addition

Valerie Lowery

The School Board on Thursday, April 19, 2018, approved the appointment of new School District and school leaders for next school year and a voter-supported classroom addition at Mill Creek Middle School.

After approving Principal appointments last month, the School Board moved on to naming 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.

“We’re very proud of all these leaders – those who’ve grown with us, stars we’ve stolen from other school districts and those who’ve left us and who we stole back,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said as he introduced the new leaders, noting all of the promoted leaders from within CCSD have completed his Superintendent’s Leadership Academy development program.  “We try to give lots of experiences to our teacher-leaders to get them ready to be Assistant Principals.”

LaToya Gray

One Principal appointment was on the agenda, as a result of Boston Elementary School Principal Izell McGruder moving into a new role as an administrator in the Office of Curriculum & Instruction overseeing English for Speakers of Other Languages programs.

His post at Boston ES will be filled by Valerie Lowery, who is an Assistant Principal at Canton ES STEM Academy.  She has 21 years of experience as a teacher, media specialist, academic coach and administrator — all with CCSD, where she also attended school herself as a child before earning her bachelor, master and specialist degrees.

The School Board also appointed LaToya Gray as supervisor for special education.  Currently Principal of Summit Hills ES in Fulton County, Ms. Gray has 18 years of experience, including previously serving with CCSD as a special education facilitator and speech language pathologist.

Additional CCSD and school leadership changes as a result of Thursday’s appointments include:

Dr. Catherine Head

Erica Morrie

Brett Pinckard

Justin Sanderson

Jennifer Jones

Christy Rich

Lori Etheridge

Denna Vance

Donald Garner

Dr. Julie Dutko

Wesley Satterfield

Ann Jordan

  • Dr. Catherine Head as Coordinator of Curriculum (currently Little River ES Instructional Lead Strategist);
  • Maria Rosario-Regan as Curriculum & Instruction – Title 1 Administrator (currently Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Assistant Principal);
  • Lyn Turnell as Curriculum & Instruction – Student Assessment Administrator (currently Etowah HS Assistant Principal);
  • Tonya Sebring as School Operations – Administrator (currently Woodstock HS Assistant Principal);
  • Erica Morrie as Carmel ES Assistant Principal (currently Woodstock ES teacher);
  • Elizabeth Spell as Cherokee HS Assistant Principal (currently Teasley MS Assistant Principal);
  • Jonathan Hall as Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Assistant Principal (currently Woodstock ES Assistant Principal);
  • Brett Pinckard as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently River Ridge HS teacher);
  • Justin Sanderson as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently Etowah HS Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA));
  • Jennifer Jones as Etowah HS Assistant Principal (currently Cherokee HS teacher);
  • Christy Rich as Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy Assistant Principal (currently Curriculum & Instruction TSA);
  • Jillian Nichols as Little River ES Assistant Principal (currently Clark Creek ES Assistant Principal);
  • Lori Etheridge as Mountain Road ES Assistant Principal (currently Mountain Road ES TSA);
  • Denna Vance as R.M. Moore ES Assistant Principal (currently R.M. Moore ES TSA);
  • Lauren Roach as R.M. Moore ES Assistant Principal (currently Canton ES Assistant Principal);
  • Donald Garner as Sequoyah HS Assistant Principal (currently CCSD special education facilitator);
  • Julie Peppers as Sixes ES Assistant Principal (currently Carmel ES Assistant Principal);
  • Dr. Julie Dutko as Teasley MS Assistant Principal (currently Holly Springs ES STEM Academy instructional lead strategist);
  • Wesley Satterfield as Tippens Education Center Assistant Principal (currently support and service administrator at Blackwell ES in Cobb County);
  • Ann Jordan as Woodstock ES Assistant Principal (currently Johnston ES instructional lead strategist);
  • Megan Biello as Woodstock HS Assistant Principal (currently Cherokee HS Assistant Principal);
  • Lee Davis as Clark Creek ES STEM Academy TSA (currently Indian Knoll ES instructional lead strategist); and,
  • Kim Barger as Ralph Bunche Center TSA (currently CCSD special education facilitator).

The School Board on Thursday also selected the contractor to build a voter-approved classroom addition at Mill Creek Middle School.

The $7.4 million project will be funded by Education SPLOST revenues, as overwhelmingly approved by voters in the 2016 renewal, with funding also coming from the State of Georgia, as the school’s growth earned construction dollars for CCSD.  The proposal from Womack, Lewis & Smith selected by the School Board came in under the $8 Million budget.

Construction on the two-story addition will take 24 months beginning this summer and includes 24 classrooms and a global learning theatre.

Dr. Hightower also shared with the School Board an update on his Ad Hoc Safety & Security Committee, noting he would, at the May 3 Board meeting, present recommendations from the Committee and information on the financial impact should the improvements be approved in next school year’s budget.

As part of Waste Management of Metro Atlanta, Inc.’s Partnership Agreement with CCSD, the company awards one $5,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from a CCSD high school each year. The designated school rotates annually; the Class of 2018 school is Cherokee High School, and the winner is Haley Hutchison. Celebrating the scholarship at Thursday’s School Board meeting are, from left to right, front row: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Marla Prince of Waste Management, Cherokee HS senior Haley Hutchison, School Board Member Patsy Jordan; back row: School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman, School Board Members Rick Steiner and John Harmon and School Board Student Advisor Ashlee Floyd of Cherokee HS.

The School Board also:

  • Announced longtime Etowah HS PE teacher and renowned coach Rob Graner as the new girls basketball head coach, and the hiring of Regina Tate-Leslie, a successful coach and AP science and math teacher, who is joining Woodstock HS as a teacher and girls basketball head coach;
  • Recognized Woodstock HS Principal Mark Smith as the Georgia Library Media Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS Principal Todd Miller as The Georgia Forensics Coaches Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year;
  • Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Teacher Teresa Bailey as Georgia’s 2018 International Technology and Engineering Educators Association Elementary Teacher Excellence Award winner;
  • Recognized CCSD Counselor of the Year Rod Metcalf of Woodstock MS and the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year;
  • Recognized Sixes ES media specialist Elizabeth Wall as a Common Sense Media Educator;
  • Recognized Etowah HS freshman Sarah Oburu for acceptance into the Disney Dreamers Academy;
  • Recognized CCSD 2018 Spelling Bee winners and their Region and State Bee success;
  • Recognized CCSD Elementary School and Middle School Reading Bowl first-place winners: Indian Knoll ES and Mill Creek MS;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS Speech and Debate Team members as 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament qualifiers;
  • Recognized CCSD Region and State Technology Fair winners;
  • Recognized Sequoyah HS senior Spencer Mann and sophomore Jacob Allred for placing at the Georgia SkillsUSA Automotive Technology Competition;
  • Recognized Creekview HS and Woodstock HS students for Georgia 4-H achievements;
  • Recognized State and Regional Champions: Creekview HS literary team Region champs; Sequoyah HS literary team Region and State champs; and Etowah HS boys basketball team Region champs;
  • Recognized Cherokee HS senior Haley Hutchison as recipient of 2018 Pine Bluff Landfill/Waste Management Scholarship for $5,000;
  • Approved the renewal of a Partnership Agreement with Bethesda Community Clinic;
  • Approved monthly financial reports;
  • Approved preparation, pricing and marketing for the sale of bonds for Education SPLOST projects;
  • Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips and professional development;
  • Approved special lease agreements; and,
  • Met in Executive Session to discuss personnel and student disciplinary matters.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, 2018


Alert: Construction Traffic in River Ridge Zone

road construction sign

Drivers in the River Ridge Zone will want to plan ahead as area road construction will impact traffic congestion when students return to school on August 1.

Roadwork by the county government is underway on East Cherokee Drive, Highway 5 and Mill Creek Road, with construction to continue through the fall.

The construction is expected to impact traffic around Johnston Elementary School, and may also affect Mill Creek Middle School and River Ridge High School traffic. Students are encouraged to ride their CCSD school bus for transportation.


Hickory Flat Community Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting of New Dean Rusk Middle School

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Celebrating the ribbon cutting for the new/replacement Dean Rusk MS at a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 are, from left to right, School Board Member John Harmon, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

The Hickory Flat community gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Cherokee County School District’s newest school: the replacement Dean Rusk Middle School.

The evening included remarks by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Principal Cindy Cooper and eighth-grader Bradley Gordon, a special presentation by the PTSA and performances by the school’s eighth-grade symphonic band and chorus.

“For me tonight, it’s about opportunity and a legacy of excellence,” Dr. Hightower said to the audience, which included students, parents, volunteers, partners and current and retired teachers and administrators.  “This is a world-class facility… and we hope we’ve risen to your expectations.”

The 30-year-old former building required replacement in order to meet the needs of the growing community.  Construction of the $36.8 million school was funded by the Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), which is on the ballot this fall for continuation by voters.

The new school accommodates the current 1,480 students with room for growth, with numerous classrooms, wide hallways, a spacious gymnasium and cafetorium and additional technology, all designed to serve the new Grades 6-8 configuration.  Dean Rusk MS is the last middle school in CCSD to add Grade 6, a transition that gives sixth-graders greater opportunity to access advanced core classes and arts and career electives.

The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Dean Rusk Middle School has a strong history of outstanding leadership, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of our past Principals,” Principal Cooper said.  “Our entire community is deeply appreciative for this new school and the opportunity to celebrate it tonight.”

Constructed by Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc. using a CCSD prototypical middle-school design modified by KRH Architects, the 255,037-square-foot, two-story school is on 25.6 acres on East Cherokee Drive adjacent to the campuses of Hickory Flat ES and Sequoyah HS.

Its classrooms all feature touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards – the first school in CCSD with this feature.  Other technological innovations include the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom, with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, the new design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional “security foyer” level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  A polished concrete floor will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time; and new features to become standard in CCSD facilities include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer remarked that every student she met at the event told her how much they enjoy the new school, and her comments were echoed by eighth-grader Bradley Gordon.

“Students today are part of a new generation,” he said, noting that the technology now available to them improves how they learn.  That said, he added, the most important element of the school didn’t change.  “With all the changes, the school maintained what was best about it… the great staff.”

Following the tradition started with previous new/replacement middle schools, the new Dean Rusk MS campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS adopted the Chiefs as its mascot in keeping with Sequoyah HS.

PTSA President Monica Orrico presented the school with a dedication gift: two stained glass windows designed by JD’s Glassworks with the school’s new logo and colors.

“We’re beginning new traditions… as Chiefs!” she said.

The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.


School Board Members Tour New/Replacement Dean Rusk MS

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The new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School is ready to open for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 1.

Cherokee County School Board members recently toured the new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School, getting a glimpse of the state-of-the-art facility that will serve more than 1,450 students when the school year begins on Monday, August 1.

The new/replacement school is ready to open on time and under budget!  Construction was funded locally through Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (Ed SPLOST) revenue, as approved by voters in 2011.

The tour on July 19 began with a welcome from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who led School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan and District 3 Board Member John Harmon, who represents the area; as well as senior staff and local and Atlanta media on the tour.

Dr. Hightower gave an overview of the facility and noted several of the economic efficiencies featured in the building, such as polished concrete floors that will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time.  He also highlighted new design features to increase safety and security, as well as technological innovations, such as the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

“It’s a point of pride to welcome you,” Dr. Hightower said, as he kicked off the tour.  “This school has the capacity we need, with even greater efficiencies, security and technology than our last school construction project… and it’s a beautiful building.  We can’t wait for students, staff and the community to enjoy their new school, and we appreciate the community’s support of the Education SPLOST that funded its construction.”

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Principal Cindy Cooper walks through the mobile seating area in the Cyber Café media center. All the furniture is on casters, and is equipped with handles, so chairs and tables can be easily moved for collaborative group work.

OVERVIEW

Architect: KRH Architects of Dalton designed the school using a modified version of the CCSD prototypical middle-school design utilized for the new/replacement E.T. Booth MS and Teasley MS.

Contractor: Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc., which has constructed schools and other educational facilities statewide including numerous CCSD facilities (i.e., Little River ES, Liberty ES, Canton ES and Cherokee High Athletic Improvements), was awarded the $36.8 Million contract by the School Board in February 2014.  The site, which is adjacent to Hickory Flat ES, had been in the CCSD inventory for many years and became available for construction after the extension of sewer lines to the campus freed up previously unusable land.

Size: The building is 255,037 square feet, and the campus is 25.6 acres.

Capacity: The new two-story facility, with a capacity of 1,600 students (an increase of 400 from the former campus), allows for the standard middle school configuration of Grades 6-8 on one campus… which provides sixth-graders with greater opportunity for academic rigor, fine arts and career electives and athletic and extra-curricular activities, as well as 30 additional minutes of instructional time each day, compared to an elementary schedule.  Projected enrollment when classes begin on Aug. 1 is 1,476 students: 476 sixth-graders, 505 seventh-graders and 495 eighth-graders.  Dean Rusk MS draws students from Hickor0y Flat, Holly Springs STEM Academy, Indian Knoll and Mountain Rd Elementary Schools.

Address and phone number: 2761 East Cherokee Dr., Canton, Ga. 30115 and 770-704-1135

SPECIAL FEATURES

Instruction: 97 instructional units… including classrooms that all feature smart boards (Dean Rusk MS is CCSD’s first school to feature all touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards), computers and additional technology; computer labs; art and music rooms; gymnasium; cafetorium; and a Cyber Café media center and Global Learning Theatre… both featuring CCSD’s new prototypical digital learning-friendly design!

Efficiency: Constructed with metal roofing, brick/block masonry and structural steel frame; four-pipe chilled water and hot water system, which also increases equipment life expectancy; variable speed pumping system; mechanical mezzanine above the second floor for servicing of equipment without disrupting classroom activities or hallway traffic; and energy management/control system.  New features incorporated into this school include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

Safety: In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, this new modified prototypical middle-school design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  The site also allows for the separation of cars and buses through the construction of an internal drive system, which allows for ingress and egress between the schools (Hickory Flat ES, Dean Rusk MS and Sequoyah HS) without entering Hickory Road or East Cherokee Drive.

Aesthetics: Following the tradition started with the new/replacement E.T. Booth and Teasley Middle Schools, this campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  The colors are featured throughout… including in the efficient polished concrete floors.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS also redesigned its mascot in keeping with the Sequoyah HS Chiefs.

Other: This campus also will house a CCSD Hearing Testing Center, which provides a site for students to be evaluated for special services provided by the School District.  The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

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As part of the move, Dean Rusk MS adopted new colors, mascot and logo to align with their feeder high school, Sequoyah.

USE OF FORMER CAMPUS

The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.

UPCOMING EVENTS

July 28 and 29: Open houses and walk-throughs are: Grade 6, Noon to 2 p.m. July 28; Grade 7, 2 to 4 p.m., July 29; Grade 8, 3 to 5 p.m., July 28.  Students will participate in locker opening practice, tour of the facilities and review of their class schedules and other logistics for the new school.

August 1: First day of school; classes are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — these are new hours starting for the 2016-17 School Year.

TBD: A Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be scheduled and open to the entire community… with School Board Members, the Superintendent, CCSD and Dean Rusk MS leaders participating in the festivities.

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Brady Harmon, who will be a sixth-grader at Dean Rusk MS, points out some cool features in the technology lab to his dad, School Board member John Harmon, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, looks on.

 

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From left to right, School Board Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Assistant Principal Catherine Holman examine pieces manufactured with the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Dean Rusk MS features CCSD’s first Global Learning Theatre, a classroom with movable furniture and six touchscreen flat-panel displays for video-conferencing and other online applications. Assistant Superintendent for Technology Bobby Blount, center, explains the features of the theater, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring and Principal Cindy Cooper look on.

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Dean Rusk MS Principal Cindy Cooper demonstrates one of the touchscreen flat-panel screens in the Global Learning Theatre.

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Assistant Principal Catherine Holman shows Brady Harmon the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Walking down a hallway during the tour are, from left to right, Principal Cindy Cooper, Superintendent Dr. Brian V. Hightower, architect Kenneth Harless, Assistant Principal Catherine Holman, Director of Facility Construction Phil Parrot, and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring. In the foreground you can see the polished concrete floor, which saves on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time