Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes, center, is congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, and Sequoyah Principal Elliott Berman.
Watch a video from the surprise presentation:
When Brian Carnes reflects on his successes, he humbly jokes: “not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”
“Chicken farmer” has been a nickname for the poultry industry leader-turned-science teacher at Sequoyah High School since he made the career change 12 years ago.
Today, Nov. 4, 2016, he earned a new nickname: Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.
Or “best chicken farmer teacher ever” for short.
Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah High School.
“I was very surprised and excited just be to named Sequoyah High School’s Teacher of the Year… it’s such an excellent school. I know all of the great teachers we have in Cherokee County, so this,” the Cherokee County native said after being surprised with the CCSD honor by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, “this is just kind of overwhelming to me.”
The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year. The school winners are selected by their peers. Mr. Carnes will be honored in December at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia. He also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.
“He teaches with a lot of heart,” Dr. Hightower said, as he congratulated Mr. Carnes, who he calls “a super-teacher,” in front of one of his AP (Advanced Placement) Chemistry classes. “Besides having tough academics — I know he pushes you — he cares about you. I know he helps you all along the way. And that’s what we’re about.”
Mr. Carnes, who attended Buffington Elementary School and graduated from Cherokee High School where he was active in FFA, began his career in the poultry industry. With degrees in agriculture (bachelor’s from University of Georgia) and quality systems technology (master’s from Southern Polytechnic State University), Mr. Carnes succeeded in the industry for 15 years.
But his heart began to whisper of another plan for him: teaching children to love science.
He talked to mentors, like his former agriculture teacher Dr. Dwight Pullen, and his family and friends. And then he flew the coop.
Principal Elliot Berman said he’s proud to say he hired Mr. Carnes in 2004. Mr. Carnes began teaching special education, then moved into science and then took on AP Chemistry. Along the way, Mr. Carnes earned certifications, endorsements and awards… like the Delta Kappa Gamma International Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, STAR Teacher and, last year, the valedictorian picked him as her “outstanding teacher” for CCSD recognition.
“Mr. Carnes has taught some of the most challenged to some of the most gifted, yet they were taught with the same compassion,” Principal Berman said. “Positively impacting lives is what Mr. Carnes was destined to do, and that is what he continues to do here at Sequoyah.”
Not only is Mr. Carnes beloved for the care he shows students in the classroom as their teacher and outside the classroom in roles such as Student Government Association sponsor, he also delivers when it comes to making challenging materials comprehensible and guiding students to success on demanding AP exams.
“He honestly does care about his students and their grades and wants to develop a relationship with them,” junior Zach Davis said. “In my opinion, he really is the most deserving teacher.”
Mr. Carnes and his wife, Pam, President & CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, have two daughters, Sarah, a Sequoyah HS and University of Georgia graduate now studying for a master’s at Georgia Tech, and Rebekah, a Sequoyah HS junior. In addition to his many roles at school, Mr. Carnes also has coached his daughters’ softball teams and volunteers with his church, Canton First United Methodist.
“My most notable accomplishments are witnessed through the many students I have impacted throughout my career,” he said. “Each example is meaningful whether it be a special education student who overcame great obstacles to become a productive member of society or my many AP students who have been inspired to pursue careers in the sciences as doctors, engineers or physicists; not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Sequoyah HS chemistry teacher Brian Carnes with the news he is CCSD’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.
Sequoyah HS Chemistry teacher Brian Carnes, center, with AP Chemistry students shortly after he is surprised with the announcement he has been named CCSD’s Teacher of the Year for 2017.
Mr. Carnes’s AP Chemistry class gives a round of applause for their outstanding teacher.
Mr. Carnes hugs his wife, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Pam Carnes, after the surprise announcement.
The Carnes family celebrates his award; from left, Sarah, Brian, Rebekah and Pam.