Etowah HS Counselor Named CCSD 2017 Counselor of the Year!

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.


Etowah HS Selected for Second New State Diploma Seal!

Etowah High School drama students prepare for a performance; participation in extra-curricular arts activities is a requirement to earn the new Diploma Seal.

Etowah High School has been approved for a second State-approved diploma seal!

The school successfully applied to the Georgia Department of Education for authorization to issue the Fine Arts Seal to eligible graduating seniors beginning this school year.

This accomplishment is in addition to the International Skills Diploma Seal the school earned approval for last school year along with Cherokee HS and Woodstock HS.

Etowah High School art students participate in a related extra-curricular event, which is among the required activities to earn the new Diploma Seal.

Jessica Booth, Fine Arts Program Specialist with the Georgia DOE, said the committee tasked with reviewing seal requests “was very impressed with [Etowah’s] application.”

Students at approved high schools can earn the seal by completing: a Georgia Fine Arts Pathway (at least three fine arts courses), a creative industry focus course, at least two fine arts extra-curricular activities, and experiences that foster fine arts mastery including at least 20 hours of art-related community service and a senior capstone project on their experiences.

The Seal, according to the Georgia DOE, “is a signal to employers and higher education institutions that a student is prepared to participate in the creative economy.”

“We’re proud to have earned this additional seal of approval to further recognize some of our most creative students,” Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’ve long been a leader in creating career learning and industry certification programs with of goal of offering our students every advantage possible, and this new honor builds upon that success.”

Etowah High School band students present a concert; art, band, chorus and drama are among the fine arts courses offered at the school that qualify students for the new Diploma Seal.

Etowah High School chorus students participate in a master workshop with a guest conductor.

Film classes at Etowah High School are one of the creative industry courses that count toward the Diploma Seal’s requirements.


Cherokee County School Board Appoints Etowah HS Interim Principal

The School Board on Thursday, Feb. 2, approved the appointment of veteran educator and principal Dr. Bob Eddy as interim principal for Etowah High School through the end of the school year.

Dr. Bob Eddy

Dr. Eddy, whose long career in the Cherokee County School District has included serving as a classroom teacher, award-winning wrestling coach, principal of Dean Rusk MS and as the first principal of Creekview HS, will transition into the role this month in anticipation of the departure of Principal Keith Ball. Principal Ball is leaving CCSD to move closer to his extended family in New York and pursue a new career opportunity there.

Although retired, Dr. Eddy has worked part-time for CCSD in recent years to assist with its implementation of the State’s new teacher and leader evaluation system. He will officially begin serving as interim principal on March 1 and continue in the role through the end of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said he and his staff will use the next six weeks to seek out and interview candidates for this principal post, as well as other principal slots and district leadership roles that need to be filled for next school year. He said he anticipates recommendations will be presented to the School Board at the March 16 meeting.

“We’ll be doing a lot of interviewing,” Dr. Hightower said. “We are committed to finding the best possible leaders for our schools and district offices.”

The School Board also:

• Heard a presentation from Jordan Mason, River Ridge High School’s Student Delegate to the School Board, on his senior project, which includes a CCSD student leadership academy on Feb. 18, 2017 at Reinhardt University and the development of senior project recognition pins;

• Recognized Etowah HS senior Nathan Baker for achieving a perfect ACT score;

• Recognized Woodstock HS Assistant Principal Tonya Sebring for being inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame and being named Region 4-AAAAAAA Athletic Director of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD middle and high school students selected for All State Band, Chorus, Orchestra and Reading Chorus;

• Recognized Region and State athletic champions;

• Approved a resolution proclaiming Feb. 16, 2017 as “PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District”;

• Approved the final reading of an amended School Board Policy regarding student records;

• Approved monthly financial and Education SPLOST reports;

• Approved out-of-state travel;

• Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report;

• Approved monthly personnel recommendations; and,

• Approved the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Superintendent’s organizational chart.

School Board Member Clark Menard was absent.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 16, 2017