Woodstock Middle School’s Rod Metcalf Named 2018 CCSD Counselor of the Year

Woodstock Middle School’s Rod Metcalf Named 2018 CCSD Counselor of the Year

Woodstock MS Counselor Rod Metcalf is described by his principal as “the heart and soul” of WMS, where he has supported and guided students since the school opened its doors in 1996. Mr. Metcalf’s dedication to the nurturing and motivating of thousands of students over 22 years led him to be selected as the Cherokee County School District’s Counselor of the Year for 2018.

photo of the superintendent, counselor, principal and supervisor

From left, Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower, Counselor of the Year Rod Metcalf, Woodstock MS Principal David Childress, Supervisor of Student Services Rouel Belezza.

Video about the award presentation:

Mr. Metcalf was surprised during a faculty meeting Tuesday morning with the announcement of his honor, and a plaque presented by Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools. He received a standing ovation from his fellow faculty members, and was also presented with a Kindle and other gifts from sponsor Credit Union of Georgia.

“Throughout the day, there is a constant stream of students to see him, whether the reason being that they need reassurance for that test they are about to take or that they need help with overcoming the obstacles in their way,” Principal David

Principal David Childress, left, talks about what an asset Rod Metcalf is to the school.

Media specialist Wendy Cope describes Rod’s influence on other staff members and their families, in addition to students.

Childress wrote in his nomination letter. “Mr. Metcalf always provides a safe place for our students to get assistance and help that they need.”


“This couldn’t go to a better person– he’s been here 22 years, which means he opened the school,” said Dr. Hightower in making the presentation. “He doesn’t approach it as a point of entitlement. It’s ‘what can I do to make the school better’ each and every day.”


“I’m just one of many counselors in the county working hard to support the students of Cherokee County. This is not a ‘me’ thing, it’s an ‘us’ thing,” he told his peers upon accepting the award. “If we are all working together, our kids can make greater gains.”

Metcalf works the morning and afternoon car-rider and bus lane duties, taking advantage of the time to greet students at the start and end of the day. This helps build relationships with students, he says, which is key to students feeling safe and cared for at school. He established a Rainbows program at WMS for students whose parents are separated or divorcing, or who have experienced loss. These group meetings give him and other teachers and counselors time to focus on students who may be struggling with extra burdens in life.

Rod’s family was present for the announcement. From left, his wife, Amy Metcalf, son John Metcalf, daughter-in-law, Lindsay Metcalf, and parents Judy and Harold Metcalf.

Metcalf also draws on personal experience to assist him in connecting with students, as he and his wife adopted two teenage boys in 2011.


“This experience helped to shape me as a school counselor,” he wrote in his application. “I have new abilities to relate to students experiencing traumatic family situations.   I gained a new found ability to empathize with parents struggling to raise teens who aren’t making good choices. I think it helps me to gain trust and help provide meaningful suggestions.”


Metcalf holds a specialist degree and master’s degree in school counseling from Georgia State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in juvenile justice from Western Michigan University. He will be recognized along with the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year at the April 19 School Board meeting.


CCSD Zone Counselors of the Year 2018

Cherokee Zone: Mable Ferry, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy

Creekview Zone: Allison Landreth, Macedonia ES

Etowah Zone: Donna Ratliff, Booth MS

River Ridge Zone: Madonna Mezzanotte, Little River ES

Sequoyah Zone: Lori Waycaster, Indian Knoll ES

Woodstock Zone: Rod Metcalf, Woodstock MS

Etowah HS Counselor Named CCSD 2017 Counselor of the Year!

Etowah HS Assistant Principal Amanda Ruiz congratulates school counselor Michele Dowd, as she walks out to center court of the gym during the surprise CCSD 2017 Counselor of the Year presentation on Friday, March 31, 2017.

Michele Dowd knew she wanted to live a life of service, and found her calling in Etowah High School’s counseling office.

Her favorite quote speaks to this mission: “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I loved in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child,” (Forest E. Witcraft).

And on Friday, March 31, 2017, Ms. Dowd was surprised with an award recognizing the difference she is making in the lives of thousands of children at Etowah High School as a school counselor: Cherokee County School District 2017 Counselor of the Year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, center, and School Board member Kelly Poole, left, congratulate Michele Dowd of Etowah High School for her recognition as CCSD 2017 Counselor of the Year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presented her with the honor in front of a packed crowd assembled for a student-staff basketball game fundraiser for Relay for Life. The presentation, which also was attended by her husband, Billy, and other family and friends, and reception that followed were sponsored by Northside Hospital Cherokee, a CCSD Partner.

Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Dowd as “one of Etowah’s finest,” noting he’s especially proud to see one of his own former students be so successful and respected by her colleagues.

“Michele knows her why – she sees it in the faces of the kids she serves every day,” Dr. Hightower said. “Whether she’s providing them a shoulder to lean on in tough times or a helping hand in finding their career path, Ms. Dowd is all in and approaches her work with professionalism and passion.”

The award process begins with each Innovation Zone (high school and feeder elementary and middle schools) selecting a Counselor of the Year. Applications from these honorees then are considered by a panel of retired educators and community leaders, who select the CCSD Counselor of the Year.

In addition to Ms. Dowd for the Etowah Innovation Zone (IZ), the other Zone winners are: Cherokee IZ, Connie Hatcher, Canton ES STEM Academy; Creekview IZ, Angel Jane, Avery ES; River Ridge IZ, Phillip Crane, Mill Creek MS; Sequoyah IZ, Michelle Martin, Dean Rusk MS; and Woodstock IZ, Brent Harrison, Woodstock ES. They all will be recognized by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the April 20 School Board meeting.

Ms. Dowd is a graduate of Kennesaw State University, where she earned her bachelor of science in psychology, and University of West Alabama, where she earned her master of science in continuing education – school guidance and counseling.

She joined Etowah High School 2014, after serving one year as counselor for CCSD’s Polaris Evening Program and as a counseling intern at Avery Elementary School and a substitute teacher districtwide.

Among her roles at Etowah, Ms. Dowd provides students with a wide variety of counseling services, coordinates the Advance Placement (AP), hospital homebound and foreign exchange programs and serves on the school’s Leadership Team.

“When students come into my office during a personal crisis and can leave feeling better or with some resolution, then I know I have done my job,” said Ms. Dowd, who also is an active volunteer with youth at Christ Community Church in Cumming. “I love celebrating with students when they come into my office with exciting news or they have just been admitted into the college of their dreams. I want to be in the trenches with them during the valley moments of their life and celebrate with them on the mountaintop of their successes.”

Principal Dr. Bob Eddy said Ms. Dowd’s “core value” of service makes her an exceptional counselor and leader in her profession.

“No matter the responsibility,” he said, “Michele stays grounded in her service to students.”

And back to that favorite quote, which she has hanging up in her kitchen, as its message has come full circle for Ms. Dowd.

“When I started my tenure as a school counselor,” she said, “I thought I would be the one making a difference in the lives of students, and I hope I have so far, but little did I know that they and their families would be the ones to leave a lasting imprint on my heart.”

Ms. Dowd is welcomed to the center of the gym at halftime of the student-staff basketball game fundraiser for Relay for Life by CCSD leaders, family and friends including Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower; her husband, Billy Dowd; Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson; School Board member Kelly Poole; and Principal Dr. Bob Eddy.

Celebrating the recognition of Ms. Dowd, center, are, from left to right, Principal Dr. Bob Eddy; friends, Jason and Tiffany Skipper; her husband, Billy Dowd; her mother, Susan Hayhurst; her brother, Billy Hayhurst; and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.

Northside Hospital Cherokee representative Donnie Henriques congratulates Ms. Dowd. Northside Hospital Cherokee, a CCSD Partner, sponsored the presentation and reception that followed.