Sixteen CCSD Students Selected for Georgia Governor’s Honors Program!

Sixteen CCSD Students Selected for Georgia Governor’s Honors Program!

Governors Honors students

Sixteen Cherokee County School District students have been selected for the competitive Georgia Governor’s Honors Program.

The four-week summer instructional program at Berry College for rising high school juniors and seniors is designed to provide students with academic, cultural and social enrichment “necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders.” Students live and study on the campus in Rome from June 17 to July 14.

Students apply for a specific area of study and are screened and interviewed locally and at the State level as part of the selection process for the prestigious program.

The CCSD students selected for this honor, with their area of study noted, are:

Cherokee HS
Jacqueline Johnson, Communicative Arts

Creekview HS
Adam Morrison, Theatre
Riley Ortega, Music
Nathanael Seman, Music

Etowah HS
Keirra Dodd, World Languages
Megan Oglesby, World Languages
Katherine Slacanin, Dance

River Ridge HS
Lillian Dammann, Social Studies
Alicia Mazzurra, Communicative Arts
Billie O’Bryant, Social Studies

Sequoyah HS
Brae Davies, Mathematics
Olivia Goss, Communicative Arts
Marko Petrovic, World Languages

Woodstock HS
Ella Elbeck, Science
Zakwan Khan, Social Studies
Eliza Ndow, Social Studies

They will be recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Board’s meeting on Thursday.


CCSD Hosts New Leaders Reception for School Board

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, right, is introduced by Dr. Catherine Head to her family at the reception. Dr. Head, currently the Little River ES instructional lead strategist, has been appointed to serve as CCSD’s Coordinator of Curriculum.

The Cherokee County School District hosted a New Leaders Reception on Thursday, April 19, 2018 for the School Board to meet the educators recommended by the Superintendent of Schools for School District and school leadership roles including Assistant Principals.

School Board Member Patsy Jordan, left, greets Dr. Julie Dutko and her daughter, Kori, at the reception. Dr. Dutko, currently the Holly Springs ES STEM Academy instructional lead strategist, will serve next school year as an Assistant Principal at Teasley MS.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a CCSD Partner, sponsored the reception at CCSD’s Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, which gave School Board members the opportunity to better get to know the leaders before approving their new roles for next school year.

The 14 new leaders and their families enjoyed networking, refreshments, and a gift from Children’s Healthcare. This is the second reception of its kind for CCSD, following the inaugural event in March that welcomed the majority of new Principals for next school year.


School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman, left, speaks at the reception with LaToya Gray, CCSD’s newly appointed supervisor for special education, and her husband, Russell. Currently Principal of Summit Hills ES in Fulton County, Ms. Gray previously worked for CCSD as a special education facilitator and speech language pathologist.

School Board Member Patsy Jordan, right, congratulates Valerie Lowery at the reception on her appointment as Principal of Boston ES. The longtime CCSD educator currently serves as an Assistant Principal at Canton ES STEM Academy.

School Board Member Rick Steiner, left, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower thank Janet Read Welch of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a CCSD Partner, for sponsoring the reception.

School Board Vice Chair Mike Chapman and CCSD School Operations Executive Director Beth Long, center, laugh with Jennifer Jones and her baby, Liam, at the reception. Ms. Jones, a Cherokee HS teacher, will serve as an Assistant Principal at Etowah HS next school year.

Janet Read Welch of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta gives sponsor remarks at the reception, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower looks on.

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

Cherokee County School Board Appoints New and Reassigned Assistant Principals and Administrators

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, April 20, 2017, approved the appointment of new and reassigned assistant principals and other administrators for the 2017-18 school year.

The list of appointments is the final piece in the School District’s three-month process to fill leadership positions due to retirements, promotions and growth.

Dr. Hightower praised School Operations and Personnel Management staff for their diligence and dedication in completing the significant hiring and promotion effort. The group of new leaders, he said, is “simply phenomenal.”

The new and reassigned administrators approved Thursday are:

• Dr. Amanda Ruiz: Supervisor, Middle School/High School Curriculum
• Steven Payne: Coordinator Curriculum Support (Social Studies/Career, Technical and Agricultural Education)
• Joy Silk: Coordinator Curriculum Support (Digital Content)
• Angie Goff: Transportation Coordinator of Routing
• Lt. Jay Baker: Lieutenant, School Police Department
• Connie Henderson: Coordinator of Payroll
• Angela Greene: Assistant Principal, Arnold Mill ES
• Michelle Calkins: Assistant Principal, Boston ES
• Lauren Roach: Assistant Principal, Canton ES STEM Academy
• Rachel Wasserman: Assistant Principal, Carmel ES
• Susan Bruno: Assistant Principal, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy
• Kerry Estep: Assistant Principal, Hickory Flat ES
• Jennifer Landry: Assistant Principal, Indian Knoll ES
• Tammie Anderson: Assistant Principal, Knox ES
• Emily Spira: Assistant Principal, Knox ES
• Patricia Nay: Assistant Principal, Macedonia ES
• Yolanda Torres: Assistant Principal, Woodstock ES
• Leah Bleisath: Assistant Principal, Creekland MS
• Nicholas Zomer: Assistant Principal, Creekland MS
• Dr. Dianne Steinbeck: Assistant Principal, Dean Rusk MS
• Leigh Rogers: Assistant Principal, E.T. Booth MS
• Lawrence Gluckson: Assistant Principal, Freedom MS
• Dr. Lea Campos: Assistant Principal, Woodstock MS
• Charles Ingham: Assistant Principal, Cherokee HS
• Dr. Judy Wright: Assistant Principal, Cherokee HS
• Ken Nix: Assistant Principal, Etowah HS
• Cassandra Mathious: Assistant Principal, Etowah HS
• Stephanie Barber: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Stephanie Norris: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Mike Santoro: Assistant Principal, River Ridge HS
• Heather Phillips: Assistant Principal, Sequoyah HS
• Chris Bennett: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Dan Gagnon: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Nancy Henson: Assistant Principal, Woodstock HS
• Lori Etheridge: Teacher on Special Assignment, Mountain Road ES
• Nate Cline: Teacher on Special Assignment, R.M. Moore ES

During the meeting, the School Board also heard a positive report from Citigroup Global Markets, which was approved to issue and sell bonds for voter-approved Education SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) uses, and from Davenport & Co. financial consultants.

The presentation reported that CCSD’s recently improved credit rating and already strong reputation made for a successful bond sale, noting that the numerous interested buyers allowed for the interest rate to be lowered to 2.56% overall, while yielding $21.8 Million in funding for SPLOST projects.

The School Board also heard a presentation on a new type of school bus that has been successfully piloted this school year and will be proposed for expansion next school year.

The “Type A” bus, which is smaller and lower to the ground, will be used for CCSD’s special needs preschool children. The buses are equipped with seat belts, air-conditioning, a lower first step and all standard bus safety features.

“These are built like a bus and perform like a bus,” Transportation Director Jim Georges said, noting the “Type A” buses will be easier to drive and run on regular unleaded gas instead of diesel.

The proposed order of seven buses, which will be incorporated into the recommended budget presented to the School Board for review next month, will cost $423,143 – which is $224,876 less than the same purchase of traditional buses.

The School Board also:

• Announced CCSD’s observation of April as the Month of the Military Child and Friday, April 21, as the related Purple Up Day;

• Heard presentations from Student Delegates Kayla Brader of Woodstock HS and Meghan Hines of Etowah HS;

• During Public Participation, the Cherokee Chorale, a CCSD Partner, presented $500 grants to each of CCSD’s seven middle school chorus programs, as well as a gift to the family of the late E.T. Booth MS chorus teacher Kevin White;

• Recognized Creekview High School senior Austin Miles for achieving a perfect ACT score;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School Media Specialist Amanda Graves as winner of the 2017 Georgia Library Media Association Intellectual Freedom Award;

• Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy as 2017 Georgia winner of the Program Excellence Award Presented by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association;

• Recognized CCSD Counselors of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD 2017 Spelling Bee Winner Sharon Pradeep of Little River ES;

• Recognized 2017 Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl first-place District, Regional and Divisional Winners;

• Recognized CCSD Region and State Technology Fair Winners;

• Recognized Clark Creek ES STEM Academy’s BrickMasters, a FIRST Lego League Robotics Team, as winners of the Research Presentation Award at State Finals;

• Recognized Region and State athletic champions;

• 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 special lease agreements;

• Approved the surplus of a small parking lot adjacent to the former Building B; and,

• Met in executive session to review a real estate matter and litigation, but took no action upon returning to open session.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 4, 2017; Strategic Work Session at 6 p.m.

CCSD Names New Chief Academic Officer to Lead Educational Programs Division

The Cherokee County School District today named a new Chief Academic Officer to lead its educational programs division beginning July 1.

The Superintendent’s recommendation, which requires School Board approval later this month, is to promote Dr. Nicole H. Holmes, a longtime educator and administrator currently serving as Director of School Operations overseeing CCSD’s elementary schools.

Dr. Nicole H. Holmes

“Dr. Holmes will bring to the role a deep understanding of best practices in classroom instruction and data analysis, as well as strong management, collaboration and communication skills,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “She is passionate about teaching and using results for continuous improvement, which is the perfect fit for a leader to guide this division, as it continues the important work now underway to implement Instructional Framework standards for our teachers, the Canvas learning management system and the planned introduction of new English language arts resources.”

The position, currently referred to as assistant superintendent but transitioning July 1 with other senior staff titles to a “chief” structure, currently is held by Susan McCarthy, who recently announced her plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Dr. Holmes, who has 22 years of educational experience including 14 years in leadership, earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Spelman College followed by a master’s degree in the field from Brenau University.  She earned leadership and supervision certification from Jacksonville State University and her doctorate in teacher leadership from Walden University.

After teaching in Atlanta and Cobb public schools, Dr. Holmes joined CCSD in 2002 as assistant principal of Bascomb Elementary School and continued in that role for three years.  She served as an administrator on special assignment in CCSD’s Office of School Operations for two years and then led Liberty Elementary School as its principal from 2007-2014, during which time the school won numerous awards such as the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principal’s School Bell Award and the SSTAGE State Award for its response to intervention program that assists students struggling academically.  In her current role as Director of School Operations, which she began in 2014, Dr. Holmes has achieved goals including redesigning the principal evaluation process, redefining the social worker program and creating a repertoire of best practices for school-based leaders.

Dr. Holmes has received numerous honors and special appointments during her career including being tapped for the Governor’s Education Advisory Board for Principals, winning the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Award and being named a Cherokee County “Rising Star Under 40.”

“As a leader, I believe I am organized, focused, dedicated and well-equipped as a collaborative decision-maker who continues to work to include the voice of students, staff and community to create a rigorous, nurturing and motivating environment for all students,” said Dr. Holmes, who is married with two children.  “I strongly believe that my skill set will ensure an effective operation and instructional efficiency of schools by providing support that is essential to increasing student achievement.”

Congratulations to Dr. Brian V. Hightower for a Successful First Year as Superintendent!

Congratulations to Dr. Brian V. Hightower on a successful first year as Superintendent of Schools for the Cherokee County School District!

Here’s a brief video to celebrate the occasion: