First Student Tech Academy Participants Celebrate Completion

First Student Tech Academy Participants Celebrate Completion

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Category : CCSD

Graduates of the first CCSD Student Technology Academy.

Fifth-grade students from Sixes ES and Clark Creek ES STEM Academy recently celebrated completion of a pilot CCSD technology program where they learned advanced Microsoft program skills that they will be using in middle and high school, and beyond.


The CCSD Student Technology Academy (STA) is a pilot program that mimics an initiative known as the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) for teachers. CCSD teachers have been earning the prestigious MIE endorsement by completing a 16-hour course, which is focused on 21st-century learning concepts combined with the acquisition of new skills using Microsoft tools in the classroom.

Student Tech Academy graduates (wearing their purple Microsoft One Note capes) were able to Skype with Microsoft Product Manager Mike Tholfsen, who answered students’ questions ranging from “Do you know Bill Gates?” to “Did you like technology when you were younger?”

Now that a majority of CCSD teachers have earned this endorsement, CCSD’s Office of Technology & Information Services developed STA as a way for students to follow a similar path and learn to use the same resources by interacting with their teachers and fellow students.

Connor Gunkler of Sixes ES waits with CCSD Technology Project Specialist Sandi Adams to ask a question during the Skype session.

“The Student Technology Academy has opened many doors for our fifth grade students at Sixes,” said Sixes ES Principal Cindy Crews. “I feel confident that we are sending these students to middle school fully capable of using the many Microsoft learning tools that are provided to them by our school district.”


The first STA class learned the following skills: Office365, including a variety of online “apps” for teachers, students and employees for content storage, creation and organization; Sway; Stream (formerly Office Mix); Outlook and proper use of email; One Note digital notebooks and presentations; Skype, video conferencing; and Coding programming concepts and computer science.


The students received a CCSD Certificate of Learning for completing STA and mastering skills that will aid their success in middle and high school, and in their college and professional careers.   Heather Ivers’ class at Clark Creek ES STEM Academy participated in the STA pilot, as well as Dr. Kyle Shugart’s class at Sixes ES. Marco’s Pizza provided pizza and cake for the students at the conclusion of their final day of STA, which included a field trip to the CCSD Technology facility where they engaged in coding activities and Skyped with a Microsoft executive.


“Students in CCSD begin as early as kindergarten to develop and build on basic computing skills aligned with the International Society for Technology (ISTE) Standards for Students – which provides a framework school districts can use to educate students on technology use in learning,” said CCSD Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount. “The Student Technology Academy ensures the skills, behaviors, responsibilities and potential of effective technology use are reinforced and allows students to attain validation of their accomplishment in mastery of these resources.”


The teachers were thrilled that their students had the opportunity to get acquire skills and tools they would be using for many years.


“I have really enjoyed watching my students grow technologically,” said Ms. Ivers. “They have become experts on Office 365, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Sway, Forms, and Coding, and they took every task on without complaints or without apprehensions. It has been amazing to see them work together and help each other with each assignment.”


Student Technology Academy graduates

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

Acree, Kyleigh

Adams, Brayden

Aranda, Jairo

Bravo, Christopher

Clark, Paige

Crane, Gabrielle

Eskew, Isabella

Gibson, Emma

Gonzalez, Imanol

Harrelson, Aidan

Helms, Sean

Jaimes, Saul

Jang, Suhan

Martinez Gaspar, Maritza

Medford, Benjamin

Mierzejewski, Carson

Morquecho-De La Cruz, Paola

Nguyen, Peter

Nuckles, Dashaun

Olwana, Laika

Padgett, Halen

Pennes Castillo, Daviel

Redmon, Natalia

Reed, Emma

Reed, John

Solis, Andrea

Thomas, Audrey


Sixes ES

Ashley, Logan

Branch, Jackson

Brown, Hudson

Carter, Anderson

Collins, Kaylee

Downey, Sarah

Drees, Andrew

Dukes, Landon

Farmer, Meghan

Foley, Ireland

Forbes, Ethan

Gunkler, Connor

Helms, Isaac

Hill, Madeline

Hobbs, Summer

Letaw, Madison

McKechnie, David

Mensonides, Ashley

Meredith, Lillian

Price, Alexius

Prince, Taylor

Reale, Logan

Reeves, Conner

Rule, Jackson

Sanders, Carol Ann

Spangler, Evan

Steffers, Alexander

Toth, Lauren

Trejo Hernandez, Javier

Holly Springs ES STEM Academy Named Microsoft Showcase School!

Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy is again being celebrated as a global leader in leveraging technology to improve teaching and learning!

Showcase Schools logoThe school has been selected by Microsoft as a 2017-2018 Microsoft Showcase School in recognition of its successes in integrating educational technology in the classroom to the benefit of both students and teachers. Only 27 schools nationwide were selected as Showcase Schools!

“We’re so proud of Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy and its teachers and staff for embracing these powerful tools to increase student success in the classroom and prepare them for college and career readiness,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Technology doesn’t replace a gifted and dedicated teacher, but it’s a valuable resource for guiding innovation and exploring new ways to help students learn.”

Showcase Schools receive access to special resources and benefits from Microsoft and are tapped to share their transformational educational practices with other schools.

Principal Donna Bertram and teacher Lauren Pittman, a Microsoft Innovation Education Expert, will be recognized for their roles in achieving this honor by the Superintendent and School Board at the Jan. 18 School Board meeting.

Holly Springs ES STEM Academy during the 2014-15 school year became the first whole school ever to be Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) certified, and the following year was selected for the Showcase. In May, Ms. Pittman and her students were featured in an international Microsoft campaign promoting its educational products and their positive impact on teaching and learning.

CCSD Teacher, Students Featured in Microsoft National Commercial

Screenshot from Twitter of video still

A Cherokee County School District teacher and her students are featured in a national commercial for Microsoft!

The commercial, which was launched today by MicrosoftEdu at its “Learn What’s Next” media conference and online with broadcast to begin on major TV networks this week, features Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy teacher Lauren Pittman and her class.

Lauren Pittman

Ms. Pittman, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, is recognized for her use of the company’s learning tools to help struggling readers succeed, and the commercial features students sharing their stories of academic triumph.

“Our community knows how inspiring our teachers are and how we’re leaders in using instructional technology to educate the emerging generation… thanks to the outstanding work of Ms. Pittman and her students, now the world will know, too,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We appreciate our community’s support of our Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for technology, and we’ll continue to invest those resources to, as the commercial says, ‘empower us all.’”

Link to commercial:

CCSD Educators Selected as MIE Experts

The Cherokee County School District is congratulating nine more of its educators named Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts!

Microsoft MIE ExpertBobby Blount, CCSD Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Information Services; Sixes ES Principal Cindy Crews; Indian Knoll ES Media Specialist Jennifer Lewis; Teasley MS teacher Tammy Lafoon; Woodstock ES teacher Caitlin Crews; CCSD Technology Project Specialist Freda Williams and Instructional Technology Specialists Jim Berry, Susan Dreschel and Lee Patti are joining 4,800 educators in the MIE Expert program worldwide.

Recognized as global leaders in using technology to transform education, MIE Experts are selected by Microsoft to share ideas, try new approaches and learn from each other as a global community dedicated to improving student outcomes through technology.

Bobby Blount

Assistant Superintendent Bobby Blount

“Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts are inspiring examples of educators applying new ways of teaching and learning in their classrooms that motivate students and empower them to achieve more,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. “We celebrate and support the work they do every day!”

Eleven CCSD employees previously named MIE Experts also were invited by Microsoft to continue in the program: Sandi Adams, Jessica Hemphill, Stephanie Gauthier, Dianne Steinbeck, Lauren Pittman, Karina Bailey, Julie Key, Kimberley Forrester, Lee Coker, Lisa Lougheed and Merry Willis.

Cindy Crews

Principal Cindy Crews

The new MIE Experts will be recognized by the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools and School Board at the Oct. 13 meeting of School Board.