It’s School Board Member Appreciation Week, and we’ll be shining the spotlight this week on each of our representatives to thank them for their service… check back here for a new recognition each day this week!
School Board Vice Chairman Mike Chapman, left, serves up lunch in Captain America costume to students on School Lunch Hero Day along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower.
Canton businessman Mike Chapman has served on the School Board for an impressive 13 years, with four as chairman!
Mr. Chapman has been elected five times by his fellow Board members to the Vice Chairman post, including this school year.
Many successful initiatives in CCSD have occurred due to his support, including the nationally recognized Cherokee Academies program developed in response to Mr. Chapman’s call for more educational school choice in our community and the expansion of CCSD’s safety and security program. Mr. Chapman is known as an advocate for fiscal conservatism and transparency and supported the development of the Open CCSD webpage, which includes hundreds of public records including video of School Board meetings.
His strongest passion may be for career education, fueled by his own successful business career as plant manager for Morrison Products in Canton and longtime membership with numerous civic clubs and community boards of directors, and his wife’s expertise as a career education teacher. Mr. Chapman, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, not only champions this cause and supports it with his votes as a Board member, he also opens his workplace for school field trips and visits classrooms to talk about career choices.
“Our School District would not be as successful as it is today without the support of Mr. Chapman… he’s the definition of a model School Board member, and we greatly appreciate his service,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “He has represented the Board at the State level for many years through the Georgia Education Coalition, and he’s just as eager to read to a classroom of kindergarteners or to jump in the cafeteria line – in a Captain America costume – to serve meals on School Lunch Hero Day.”
School Board Chair Kyla Cromer of Canton welcomes community members to the dedication of the new School Board auditorium.
Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer of Canton has dedicated her life to education, both as her vocation and as her passion.
She earned her degree in elementary education and worked as a classroom teacher and learning center director; later, as a stay-at-home mom to two, Ms. Cromer found herself drawn back to school to volunteer.
Ms. Cromer became an active PTA member and School Council member and, after great success in leading at the school level, felt called to the School Board. Now in her fifth year on the School Board and her fourth year as the countywide-elected Chair, Ms. Cromer is well-respected locally and statewide for her knowledge of curriculum and instruction and dedication to continuous improvement of teaching and learning.
While the role is not defined as full-time, Ms. Cromer devotes herself to the post of School Board Chair as if it is, spending many hours visiting schools to engage with students and staff, listening to the community’s citizens, and representing CCSD at the state level to identify opportunities for further improving public education.
“Ms. Cromer may no longer work in the classroom, but the classroom still is in her heart,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “You can hear it in her comments when voting on an issue: she’s focused on what’s in the best interest of each of the children we serve. She couples that with a deep understanding of school district operations and her role as a policy maker and responsible steward of taxpayer resources. That combination is a rare find, and we’re so fortunate and appreciative to have her as our Board’s chair.”
School Board Member John Harmon of Hickory Flat congratulates a graduating senior at the commencement ceremony for Sequoyah High School.
After John Harmon recognized the positive difference he could make in the lives of Cherokee County youth through coaching baseball and basketball and serving on the Hickory Flat ES School Council, he decided in 2014 to try a larger playing field as a School Board member.
Mr. Harmon is hitting home runs there, too, as a leader known for his focus on the impact School Board decisions will have on children and families.
A Hickory Flat businessman and father of three, Mr. Harmon does his research before School Board meetings, asking the Superintendent of Schools for more information on decisions ranging from approval of the annual budget to new School Board policies governing operations. He’s a strong advocate for parents becoming more involved in their child’s school, such as by volunteering through PTA, serving on School Council, or participating in CCSD’s new VILLA parent academy program that he helped launch last year.
While he’s just as comfortable speaking in the boardroom as he is visiting a classroom, it’s clear that Mr. Harmon’s favorite part of being a School Board member is engaging with students, especially reading to elementary school classes and congratulating graduating high school seniors at commencement.
“Mr. Harmon uses his knowledge and experiences as a business owner, a community volunteer and a dad to three CCSD students when making important decisions as a School Board member, and that’s a very valuable triple play for our organization,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “His leadership style is collaborative and thoughtful, and that willingness to listen to others and value their opinions, along with the joy he experiences in supporting our students, makes him such a pleasure to serve alongside.”
School Board Member Patsy Jordan creates a pinhole projector to show students at Creekland Middle School, where she viewed the eclipse last year. Ms. Jordan used her CCSD business card to make a projector.
Public schools have been a daily part of life for School Board Member Patsy Jordan of the Yellow Creek community for nearly all of her life.
She attended school here, found her first job here as a school custodian, went on to drive a school bus and then became one of our teachers – and a Teacher of the Year – before retiring and coming back in 2012 to serve as a School Board Member.
Her peers elected her Vice Chair last year for a one-year term, and the community re-elected her last year to a second four-year term.
Given her background as an outstanding teacher, it’s an easy A to guess she’d be a strong advocate for students and educators. But she earns extra credit in the hearts of employees districtwide for being just as concerned about the “classified” workers, who prepare the meals, drive the buses and keep everything from the lights to the heat running.
Ms. Jordan is definitely in her element when the Board member role brings her to schools for special events like judging competitions and awarding honors, but her talent for teaching follows her wherever she goes, even as she speaks from the Board dais.
“Every time Ms. Jordan speaks, I learn something,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “She constantly looks for and finds teachable moments, and her care for every one of our students and employees is evident in all that she does and says. Her own love of learning, willingness to share knowledge and deeply rooted connections in this community make her an exemplary Board member and a caring friend and teacher to all.”
School Board Member visits with Woodstock High School engineering technology teacher Karen Zayance and some of her students.
If you take a dad who’s engaged with his children’s education and add in an accountant’s knowledge, a love of technology and the willingness to volunteer in his community, the result would be School Board Member Clark Menard.
The Woodstock certified public accountant, whose degree in the field includes a specialization in information systems, joined the School Board in 2015 after serving as youth sports coach and PTA volunteer for his two daughters’ schools.
His expertise in financial management and accounting systems greatly benefits the School Board and the School District. Mr. Menard regularly asks questions to further understand budget issues, and he proposes ideas to the Superintendent of Schools to continuously improve operational efficiencies.
Mr. Menard not only uses know-how from his profession to guide his service as a School Board member, but he also relies upon his experiences as a parent of two CCSD students in making policy decisions, reviewing student discipline matters and fulfilling the other responsibilities of his elected office. Career education is another key issue for Mr. Menard, who strongly supports CCSD’s efforts to increase industry certification opportunities for students while in high school.
“We’re in the envious position of working with a School Board that’s made up of leaders with varied and valuable skill-sets, and Mr. Menard brings many talents to the table including his deep understanding of finance and technology,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “As we look to incorporating more business technology into our operations and further enhancing the career education opportunities for our students, we know we can rely upon Mr. Menard’s expertise and advocacy, which we’re so fortunate to have.”
School Board Member Kelly Poole, center, tours Mill Creek Middle School with Principal Dr. Kerry Martin and CCSD Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu.
School Board Member Kelly Poole of Canton is a natural-born volunteer.
Any time there’s an opportunity for School Board Members to participate – whether it’s judging a student technology contest, cheering on Special Olympians or surprising classrooms as a Read Across America guest reader – you can count on Ms. Poole.
Her passion for volunteering, through her two children’s schools from preschool through high school and in PTA committee and leadership roles, led Ms. Poole to join the School Board in 2015.
A bookkeeper with experience in nonprofits and their audits, Ms. Poole relies upon her insights as both a parent and a volunteer to make School Board policy decisions, advocate on behalf of students and look for more ways to engage parents and the community in schools.
She’s been a longtime supporter of adopting tools like the Canvas learning management system to give parents greater opportunities to be involved in their child’s education and communicate with their teachers. Ms. Poole participated throughout the School Board-initiated VILLA parent academy program launched this school year in collaboration with the Georgia School Boards Association. She sees the program as a way to not only better educate parents about their school system, but also to encourage more parents to become active school volunteers.
“Ms. Poole is on School Board Member duty at all times,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “She understands that she can shed neither her ‘mom’ hat nor ‘School Board Member’ hat at the door, but instead has melded the two roles into an authentic and effective voice advocating for every child we serve and every one of those children’s families.”
School Board Member Rick Steiner gets a hug from student Aiden Carr during a visit to Bascomb Elementary School.
Robert Rechsteiner serves as a Cherokee County School Board member, but it’s his nickname that catches most people’s attention: Rick Steiner.
That’s because this longtime School Board member and community volunteer is renowned worldwide as a professional wrestling star under his nickname.
While today he’s wrestling the best deals he can for clients as a real estate agent, Mr. Rechsteiner has grown his fan base beyond the world of his first career to include thousands of Cherokee County students and their families who know him because of his community service.
His School Board post includes southwest Cherokee County, and that’s where he raised his three sons – who all graduated from Etowah High School – and where he became known in the community for volunteering in schools and with youth sports.
His support of schools and students is what led neighbors and friends to encourage him to join the School Board in 2006, and since then, he’s served not only as a Board member, but also as the Board’s Delegate to the Georgia School Boards Association. Mr. Rechsteiner, who earned his degree in education, is dedicated to reading up on budget and policy decisions… but his favorite part of School Board Meetings is when it’s a packed house of outstanding students there to be recognized with handshakes, hugs and words of congratulations from him and his fellow Board members.
“Mr. Rechsteiner for years has impressed me in many ways, but I’m most appreciative for his attitude of servant leadership,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “For someone so famous, he stays very humble and truly listens to and values the opinions of parents, our employees and his fellow School Board members.”