Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Wins International Organization’s Award for STEM Education!

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Wins International Organization’s Award for STEM Education!

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy has received an international organization’s top honor for excellence in technology and engineering education!

The school has been named the Georgia winner of the 2017 Program Excellence Award presented by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) and Paxton-Patterson.

Principal Joey Moss

“Through the review process, it was recognized that our school’s technology and engineering education program is truly exemplary among other programs in our state,” Principal Joey Moss said. “Our students are the ones who will have richer lives as a result. Not many endeavors are more important than helping students become technologically literate and learn more about the world around them.”

ITEEA praised the school for the “tremendous amount of work and dedication that is required to design, maintain, and improve quality programs like yours.”
This news follows two consecutive years of top accolades for the school: in 2015, it earned the prestigious State STEM Certification… only the 11th elementary school in Georgia to earn this commendation, and the first in Cherokee County; and last year, the school was recognized as a finalist for the Technology Association of Georgia’s STEM Certified School Outreach Award.

“Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy is an outstanding example of innovative academic school choice,” Dr. Hightower said, noting the school is one of CCSD’s six award-winning Cherokee Academies open to all CCSD elementary school students. “Not only does Clark Creek soar like its RedHawk mascot among schools statewide, these achievements are especially remarkable given its Title I status due to the economic challenges many of its students and their families face. We’re so proud of this continued success!”

Principal Moss said the support of the entire school community — including business partners — made the ITEEA recognition possible, and she especially appreciates the efforts of Teresa Bailey, the school’s Odyssey Lab teacher, who prepared the award application and fifth-grade teacher Cindy Reeves.

Teresa Bailey

Cindy Reeves

Ms. Bailey and Ms. Reeves will join Principal Moss in presenting at the ITEEA Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas from March 16-18, 2017, and they will be recognized at the Conference’s Program Excellence Ceremony. They will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower at the April 20 School Board meeting.

Five More CCSD Schools Earn National Recognition for Digital Education

Five more Cherokee County School District schools have earned national recognition for digital education initiatives!

Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy, Knox Elementary School, Mountain Road Elementary School and Teasley Middle School all have been named Common Sense Certified Schools for Digital Citizenship by Common Sense, a national nonprofit organization dedicated “to helping kids and families thrive in a world of digital media and technology.”

The schools earned the recognition by “taking a whole-community approach” to preparing students to use digital media safely by avoiding dangers such as plagiarism, loss of privacy and cyberbullying.

“We applaud the faculty and staff of these schools for embracing digital citizenship as an important part of their students’ education,” said Jessica Lindl, Head of Common Sense Education. “These schools all deserve high praise for giving their students the foundational skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and participate ethically in society at large.”

In addition to certifying both schools as a whole, Common Sense also announced that Ball Ground ES STEM Academy Media Specialist Hollen Pope, who coordinated her school’s certification process, has been certified individually as a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Educator, as has Holly Springs ES STEM Academy Media Specialist Stephanie Gauthia, who coordinated her school’s certification; Knox ES Media Specialist Leslie Hicks, who coordinated her school’s certification; Mountain Road ES teachers Alexis Basel, Kristin Day, Kelly Gilstrap and Frank Graham; and Teasley MS teacher Lee Banks, who coordinated her school’s certification.  Mountain Road ES Media Specialist, Shelley Sheldon, who coordinated her school’s certification process, was awarded individual certification last month.  Both schools and these educators will be recognized for the accomplishments by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board meeting on Jan. 19.

Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship resources were created in collaboration with Dr. Howard Gardner of the Good Play Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  The free resources teach students, educators and parents skills related to Internet safety, protecting online reputations and personal privacy, managing online relationships and respecting creative copyright.

Johnston Elementary School in 2016 became the first CCSD school to earn the certification.

Hollen Pope

Leslie Hicks

Frank Graham

Alexis Basel

Kelly Gilstrap

Kristin Day

Stephanie Gauthia

Lee Banks

Shelley Sheldon


CCSD Educator Wins Georgia Education Technology Innovation Grant!

A Cherokee County School District educator has won a 2016 Georgia Education Technology Innovation Grant from the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium!

Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy media specialist Madeline Hall is one of only four winners to earn the $2,500 grant.


Madeline Hall

The grant will benefit the SMArTE (science, math, art, technology, and engineering) Space Ms. Hall created in the media center.  The project provides design process opportunities for students in all grades to use creativity and inventive thinking to build prototypes, explore questions, experience failure and successes and bounce  ideas off each other.  Ms. Hall works with classroom teachers to align SMArTE Space activities with curriculum and standards.

The Georgia Educational Technology Consortium is an independent nonprofit organization that also sponsors the annual Georgia Educational Technology Conference for educators and the Technology Fair student competition.


CCSD Schools Named Finalists in Technology Association of Georgia’s 2016 STEM Education Awards!


Two Cherokee County School District schools have been named finalists for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and TAG Education Collaborative’s 2016 STEM Education Awards!

Canton Elementary School STEM Academy is a finalist for the Elementary School Award, and Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy is a finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award!

This is the second consecutive year for the schools to be named to the elite list of finalists.

The awards were created, according to the Association, to recognize “outstanding efforts and achievement in supporting and promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in Georgia.”

Winners will be announced during the STEM Education Awards ceremony on Nov. 4 at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta.

“We applaud each of this year’s finalists for their extraordinary efforts to bolster awareness about the importance of STEM and for their hard work to increase student participation in science, technology, engineering and math programs,” said Michael Robertson, director of the Collaborative.  “Georgia will need to fill some 211,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018, so we are pleased to showcase so many great schools, programs and organizations that are helping to develop a strong future workforce for our state. ”

TAG is the leading technology industry association in the state, serving more than 30,000 members; TAG Education Collaborative is dedicated to developing science, technology, engineering and math initiatives in Georgia.


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.

School Board Members Tour New/Replacement Dean Rusk MS

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The new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School is ready to open for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 1.

Cherokee County School Board members recently toured the new/replacement Dean Rusk Middle School, getting a glimpse of the state-of-the-art facility that will serve more than 1,450 students when the school year begins on Monday, August 1.

The new/replacement school is ready to open on time and under budget!  Construction was funded locally through Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (Ed SPLOST) revenue, as approved by voters in 2011.

The tour on July 19 began with a welcome from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who led School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, Vice Chair Patsy Jordan and District 3 Board Member John Harmon, who represents the area; as well as senior staff and local and Atlanta media on the tour.

Dr. Hightower gave an overview of the facility and noted several of the economic efficiencies featured in the building, such as polished concrete floors that will save on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time.  He also highlighted new design features to increase safety and security, as well as technological innovations, such as the Global Learning Theatre video-conferencing classroom and Technology Lab classroom with a 3D printer, green-screen video room and Lego robotics table among its special features.

“It’s a point of pride to welcome you,” Dr. Hightower said, as he kicked off the tour.  “This school has the capacity we need, with even greater efficiencies, security and technology than our last school construction project… and it’s a beautiful building.  We can’t wait for students, staff and the community to enjoy their new school, and we appreciate the community’s support of the Education SPLOST that funded its construction.”

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Principal Cindy Cooper walks through the mobile seating area in the Cyber Café media center. All the furniture is on casters, and is equipped with handles, so chairs and tables can be easily moved for collaborative group work.


Architect: KRH Architects of Dalton designed the school using a modified version of the CCSD prototypical middle-school design utilized for the new/replacement E.T. Booth MS and Teasley MS.

Contractor: Womack, Lewis & Smith, Inc., which has constructed schools and other educational facilities statewide including numerous CCSD facilities (i.e., Little River ES, Liberty ES, Canton ES and Cherokee High Athletic Improvements), was awarded the $36.8 Million contract by the School Board in February 2014.  The site, which is adjacent to Hickory Flat ES, had been in the CCSD inventory for many years and became available for construction after the extension of sewer lines to the campus freed up previously unusable land.

Size: The building is 255,037 square feet, and the campus is 25.6 acres.

Capacity: The new two-story facility, with a capacity of 1,600 students (an increase of 400 from the former campus), allows for the standard middle school configuration of Grades 6-8 on one campus… which provides sixth-graders with greater opportunity for academic rigor, fine arts and career electives and athletic and extra-curricular activities, as well as 30 additional minutes of instructional time each day, compared to an elementary schedule.  Projected enrollment when classes begin on Aug. 1 is 1,476 students: 476 sixth-graders, 505 seventh-graders and 495 eighth-graders.  Dean Rusk MS draws students from Hickor0y Flat, Holly Springs STEM Academy, Indian Knoll and Mountain Rd Elementary Schools.

Address and phone number: 2761 East Cherokee Dr., Canton, Ga. 30115 and 770-704-1135


Instruction: 97 instructional units… including classrooms that all feature smart boards (Dean Rusk MS is CCSD’s first school to feature all touchscreen, flat-panel smart boards), computers and additional technology; computer labs; art and music rooms; gymnasium; cafetorium; and a Cyber Café media center and Global Learning Theatre… both featuring CCSD’s new prototypical digital learning-friendly design!

Efficiency: Constructed with metal roofing, brick/block masonry and structural steel frame; four-pipe chilled water and hot water system, which also increases equipment life expectancy; variable speed pumping system; mechanical mezzanine above the second floor for servicing of equipment without disrupting classroom activities or hallway traffic; and energy management/control system.  New features incorporated into this school include tankless water heaters, electric hand dryers and T-5 light fixtures, all greatly reducing energy costs.

Safety: In addition to CCSD’s safety standards, such as an electronic front-door “buzz-in” security system, this new modified prototypical middle-school design requires all visitor traffic to flow into the front office for an additional level of check-in and verification before entering the main hallway.  The site also allows for the separation of cars and buses through the construction of an internal drive system, which allows for ingress and egress between the schools (Hickory Flat ES, Dean Rusk MS and Sequoyah HS) without entering Hickory Road or East Cherokee Drive.

Aesthetics: Following the tradition started with the new/replacement E.T. Booth and Teasley Middle Schools, this campus features the colors of its Innovation Zone high school… which for the Sequoyah Zone are black and gold.  The colors are featured throughout… including in the efficient polished concrete floors.  As part of the transition, Dean Rusk MS also redesigned its mascot in keeping with the Sequoyah HS Chiefs.

Other: This campus also will house a CCSD Hearing Testing Center, which provides a site for students to be evaluated for special services provided by the School District.  The school is named for the late U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was born in Cherokee County and served from 1961-69 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

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As part of the move, Dean Rusk MS adopted new colors, mascot and logo to align with their feeder high school, Sequoyah.


The former Dean Rusk MS is being renovated to provide additional capacity to Sequoyah HS beginning in January… much like how the former Chapman Intermediate School now is used as “Etowah East” by Etowah HS.  The District and school are collaboratively developing a plan for which programs will be housed in this facility.


July 28 and 29: Open houses and walk-throughs are: Grade 6, Noon to 2 p.m. July 28; Grade 7, 2 to 4 p.m., July 29; Grade 8, 3 to 5 p.m., July 28.  Students will participate in locker opening practice, tour of the facilities and review of their class schedules and other logistics for the new school.

August 1: First day of school; classes are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — these are new hours starting for the 2016-17 School Year.

TBD: A Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be scheduled and open to the entire community… with School Board Members, the Superintendent, CCSD and Dean Rusk MS leaders participating in the festivities.

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Brady Harmon, who will be a sixth-grader at Dean Rusk MS, points out some cool features in the technology lab to his dad, School Board member John Harmon, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, looks on.


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From left to right, School Board Vice Chair Patsy Jordan, Chair Kyla Cromer and Assistant Principal Catherine Holman examine pieces manufactured with the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Dean Rusk MS features CCSD’s first Global Learning Theatre, a classroom with movable furniture and six touchscreen flat-panel displays for video-conferencing and other online applications. Assistant Superintendent for Technology Bobby Blount, center, explains the features of the theater, as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring and Principal Cindy Cooper look on.

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Dean Rusk MS Principal Cindy Cooper demonstrates one of the touchscreen flat-panel screens in the Global Learning Theatre.

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Assistant Principal Catherine Holman shows Brady Harmon the 3D printer in the Technology Lab classroom.

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Walking down a hallway during the tour are, from left to right, Principal Cindy Cooper, Superintendent Dr. Brian V. Hightower, architect Kenneth Harless, Assistant Principal Catherine Holman, Director of Facility Construction Phil Parrot, and Assistant Superintendent for Support Services and Facilities/Construction Management Bill Sebring. In the foreground you can see the polished concrete floor, which saves on maintenance and cleaning costs, paying for itself in a year’s time