CCSD Earns Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Award

CCSD Earns Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Award

First Sgt. (Ret.) Thomas “Randy” Hardin, left, presents the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriotic Employer award to CCSD Office of Human Resources Director Dr. Adrian Thomason and Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu. Teasley Middle School Assistant Principal John Carter, right, serves as a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve and nominated CCSD for the award.

The Cherokee County School District has earned a National honor for its support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.

The School District was nominated for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriotic Employer Award by Teasley Middle School Assistant Principal John Carter. The Award recognize employers for “policies and practices that facilitate employee participation in the Guard and Reserve.” Mr. Carter serves as a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve, and is a member of the 313th Army Band supporting the 81st Regional Support Command.

“I immensely appreciate CCSD’s support of my military service,” said Mr. Carter, who prior to beginning his service as a school administrator worked for CCSD as a school band teacher and director. “Last school year, as well as throughout my career with the School District, I have been met with nothing but support from this county. I know for a fact that many of my fellow soldiers do not enjoy the same level of support” from their employers.

The award recently was presented to CCSD by First Sgt. (Ret.) Thomas “Randy” Hardin, representing the Georgia Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. It was accepted on behalf of CCSD by Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu and Director Adrian Thomason.

They will be recognized for this honor by the Superintendent and School Board at the Jan. 18 School Board meeting.

“We want every student to learn about our great Nation’s history and the important role our military has played and continues to play in securing and preserving freedom at home and around our world,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, a former history teacher. “Our employees who have served our country’s military, and those like Mr. Carter who continue to serve, play an important role in making these lessons real for our students. We appreciate our veterans and service members and are honored to employ them and humbled by this recognition.”


Ball Ground ES STEM Academy Reunites Military Dad with First-Grade Daughter in Veterans Day Surprise


Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy first-grader Olivia Givens is surprised to be reunited with her dad, U.S. Army First Lt. Christopher Givens during the third-grade’s Veterans Day program. He just returned from serving for nearly a year in Afghanistan.

Watch the video here:


Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy’s Veterans Day celebration on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 honored one veteran in an extraordinary way.

After a small group of first-graders from onstage led the audience in The Pledge of Allegiance, a teacher asked if any of them knew a veteran.

Olivia Givens spoke up.

“My dad is in the war… in Kabul,” she said into a microphone that made her tiny voice a little bit bigger.  “It’s a far place away.”

Suddenly, a loud voice rang out: “Spartan!”

And across the stage marched a man wearing U.S. Army fatigues and a big grin.


U.S. Army First Lt. Christopher Givens surprises his daughter, Olivia, during Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy’s Veterans Day program. She had not seen him since he departed nearly a year ago to serve in Afghanistan.

Speechless, Olivia looked on in awe.  It was her Daddy, who she missed so much for the past year that she slept with a “Daddy doll.”  A doll with a photo of her Daddy’s face, which her grandmother hears Olivia talk to every night as she falls asleep.

First Lt. Christopher Givens scooped her up in a hug, as the veterans, their families, students and teachers filling the cafeteria rose to their feet, clapping, laughing and crying.

“See you all later,” 1st Lt. Givens said, as he carried Olivia offstage… a smile on her face so wide it stretched from pigtail to pigtail.

The reunion was orchestrated by teachers at the school and Olivia’s grandmother, Judy Givens.

“If I could give her a special surprise, this would be one of them and to have her daddy hug her and tell her that he loves her,” Mrs. Givens said before the surprise reunion.  “Nannie and Paw Paw have waited what feels like a lifetime for this day… I can look down in those big blue eyes and say we gave her the best present she has ever wanted.”

For 1st Lt. Givens, who has served for 13 years including stretches in Korea and Egypt, this was his first long tour of duty away from Olivia since her birth.  After several months of train-up away from home, he headed to the NATO base at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served for nine months as a medical logistics officer and the person-in-charge.

After the shock of the reunion turned to hugs and kisses, Olivia had time to reflect on the surprise.

“When he came out, I was a little scared,” she said, wiping a few tears away on his camouflaged shoulder. “I’m happy now.”

First Lt. Givens said his “heart was racing,” too, as he stood behind the curtains awaiting his cue.

“I didn’t know what I was going to say, but she’s my little Spartan,” 1st Lt. Givens said, noting the Spartan nickname comes from the obstacle course races of the same name that also include children’s programs.  He looks forward to them racing together again soon.

Olivia has only one plan: “I want to stay with him forever,” she said, hugging his neck as tight as a little girl can.