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

Mill Creek MS Earns Digital Citizenship Certification

Common Sense logoMill Creek Middle School has earned national certification for digital citizenship!

Alicia Davis

The school has been named a Common Sense Certified School 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 school earned the recognition by preparing students to use digital media safely by avoiding dangers such as plagiarism, loss of privacy and cyberbullying.

School Counselors Alicia Davis and Jamie Vecsey coordinated the school’s certification process and will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Board’s meeting on Thursday.

Jamie Vecsey

“Mill Creek Middle School and its staff deserve high praise for giving students the foundational skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and participate ethically in society at large,” said Liz Kline, Vice President of Education Programs for Common Sense Education.

Woodstock HS Engineering & Technology Students Win Statewide Awards & Office!

Woodstock HS students show off some of the trophies they won at Georgia’s Technology Student Association State Conference.


Woodstock High School engineering and technology Career Pathway students recently won statewide honors and office and are advancing to Nationals!

Thirty-five Woodstock HS students competed at Georgia’s Technology Student Association State Conference, at which this year 2,700 students from across the State competed in technology and engineering contests. Students who place are invited to attend the National Conference, at which students from the U.S. and other countries including Turkey and Germany come to compete; this year, Nationals will be held in June in Atlanta. Also during the State conference, Woodstock HS junior Greg Carroll was elected the State Vice President and sworn into office.

Woodstock HS junior Greg Carroll, right, is sworn into office as State Vice President of Georgia’s Technology Student Association at the State conference.

Woodstock HS students who placed and move on to Nationals are:
first place, Biotechnology: L.T. Heber, Malachi Brewer, George Saunders, Walter Saunders and Drew Mathena; and third place, Animatronics: Anna Mitchell, Colton Clanton, Sam Skillman, Corey Darko and Matthew Tressler

Three Woodstock HS teams placed in the TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Math, and Science) competition, which includes a multiple-choice test, an essay, and a problem solving challenge. The 11th- and 12th-grade Team A took first place in the State, while Team B took third place. The 9th- and 10th-grade Team took first place in its division. By placing in the top three, all three earned a spot to compete at Nationals.

Team A members are: Preston Alsup, Gregory Carroll, Andy Jiang, Julia Litrel, Reese Mallory, Dylan Mason, Toral Patel and Katelyn Provost. Team B members are: Jack Bortle, Nayeli Perez-Soto, Anna Mitchell, Kyle Pederson, Colton Clanton, Maeve Levreault-Lopez and Matthew Garcia. Ninth- and 10th-grade team members are: Felipe Duque, Abigail Halls, Briston Green, Hayden Johnson, Valerie Cournoyer, Carly Henderson, Owen Mason and Elizabeth Mitchell.

Teacher Karen Zayance is the team’s sponsor and recently was elected to the TSA Board of Directors. In her new role as a Board member, she will assist in the planning and production of the TSA’s four State conferences held annually. The Board works with TSA’s staff by establishing policy, direction and managing competitive events.  She and her students will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s May 3 meeting.


Woodstock HS TEAM competition members who placed at State and are headed to Nationals include, from left to right, front row: Nayeli Perez-Soto, Toral Patel, Julia Litrel, Anna Mitchell, Katelyn Provost, Dylan Mason, Preston Alsup, Reece Mallory, Maeve Levreault-Lopez, Andy Jiang; back row: Valerie Cournoyer, Greg Carroll, Carly Henderson, Jack Bortle, Felipe Duque, Abi Halls, Briston Green, Hayden Johnson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Colton Clanton, Matthew Garcia, Owen Mason and Kyle Pederson.

Sequoyah HS Students Win at State Technology Skills Competition!

Category : CCSD

Sequoyah High School Automotive Technology SkillsUSA Team members Jacob Allred, left, and Spencer Mann placed at State competition.

Two Sequoyah High School Automotive Technology SkillsUSA Team members placed at State competition, with one named State Champion!

Spencer Mann was named the State Champion for Automotive Service Technology at the Georgia SkillsUSA statewide competition and now is headed to the National competition in June in Louisville, Ky.  For the contest, students proceeded through 10 challenges that tested their knowledge of skill areas and proper procedures.  The scenarios presented as part of the challenge were a surprise to the students.  The students were judged by trainers from BMW, Subaru, Honda, and Mercedes Benz.

Jacob Allred finished third in the Power Service Technology contest, which tests students’ knowledge of small engine technology through 10 stations of challenges, with judging by Honda and Briggs & Stratton trainers.

Sequoyah HS automotive technology teacher Chuck Wilson is their coach.

They will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the School Board’s April 19 meeting.


Woodstock ES Places at State First Lego League Competition!

Category : CCSD

From left to right, front tow: Coach Debby Pinion, Coach Neha Shah, Eddie Davis, Co-Captain Carly Goble, Captain Levi Little, Lauren Hunter, Emily Craig, GE Mentor Paul Hutto; second row: Coach Cindy Mauldin, Adam Elghonemy, Sarah Ebbs, Jordan DeFazio, Coach Danielle Cosey; back row: Bennett Keel, Principal Kim Montalbano, Maddy Brown.

Woodstock Elementary School’s robotics team members placed at State competition!

The team placed first in Core Values for Team Work at the First Lego League State Competition held on Saturday at Georgia Tech. The team will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Feb. 15 School Board meeting.

The team qualified for State by placing first in Robot Design and earning a 100% on its Core Values presentation at the First Lego League Super Regionals competition.

In First LEGO League competition, each team designs and builds a robot based on the LEGO Mindstorms system. The robots are designed and then programmed by the team to solve a set of missions, which are laid out on a First LEGO League playing field with models made from LEGO bricks. Each team also completes a research project affiliated with the tournament theme (this year’s is Hydro Dynamics), where they research and analyze a problem. Awards are given for Robot Design, Core Values, Robot Performance, and Project.





Two CCSD Teachers Named Global Minecraft Mentors!

Category : CCSD

Two Cherokee County School District teachers have been selected for the Microsoft Education Global Minecraft Mentor Program!

Lisa Lougheed

Carmel ES teacher Merry Willis and Holly Springs ES STEM Academy teacher Lisa Lougheed were selected to join the elite group of 300 Mentors worldwide. The extensive application process hand-selected representatives from more than 70 countries.

“Game-based learning is gaining significant momentum worldwide, and it is great to see CCSD having a seat at the table to help steer the direction,” Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount said. “There is no doubt they will represent CCSD well.”

Ms. Lougheed and Ms. Willis will be recognized by the Cherokee County School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Board’s meeting on Feb. 15.

Merry Willis

The Program’s main objectives are to: gather expert feedback on Minecraft: Education Edition and related products; support educators on their Minecraft journey; and connect like-minded educators to push game-based learning forward around the world.

Mentors receive the following benefits: direct access to the Minecraft Education team for product feedback and support; A Minecraft: Education Edition Mentor account; advance notice about and early access to upcoming product releases; priority access and selection for webinars, speaking engagements, and other opportunities; an exclusive badge on; and other benefits.


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.

Knox ES Earns National Certification for Digital Citizenship

Knox Elementary School has been named a Common Sense Certified School for Digital Citizenship this week by Common Sense, a national nonprofit organization dedicated “to helping kids and families thrive in a world of digital media and technology.”

Common Sense logoThe school earned the recognition by 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 Knox Elementary School for embracing digital citizenship as an important part of their students’ education,” said Liz Kline, Vice President of Education Programs for Common Sense Education. “The school and its staff deserve high praise for giving students the foundational skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and participate ethically in society at large.”

Leslie Hicks

Media Specialist Leslie Hicks, K-2 Counselor Jenilee Curtis and Principal Tammy Sandell coordinated the school’s certification process.

Jenilee Curtis

“We’re honored to be recognized as a Common Sense School,” Principal Sandell said “By preparing our students to use technology safely and responsibly, we’re providing them unlimited opportunities to maximize and personalize their learning.”

They will be recognized by the School Board and Superintendent of Schools at the Dec. 14 school board meeting.

Principal Tammy Sandell

Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship resources were created in collaboration with Dr. Howard Gardner of the GoodPlay 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.



CCSD Employees Stay Busy During Summer Break

CCSD Transportation Technician Samuel Shelton inspects a brand new bus upon delivery to CCSD. The School District purchased 12 new full-size buses for the 2017-18 school year.

Summer months are far from slow in the Cherokee County School District, as employees, in addition to running summer school and meal programs, stay busy with facility maintenance, professional development and preparing operations for the new school year.

CCSD Facility Technician Eli Gibbs works on a rooftop HVAC unit at Johnston Elementary School. Projects there this summer air-conditioned the gym and upgraded the energy management system.

“Although the majority of students and teachers and other school-based staff enjoy a well-deserved two-month break, summer is a very busy time for our divisions and departments, as they complete significant behind-the-scenes work,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We greatly appreciate the time and energy our employees invest into facilities, technology and training to prepare us for a successful school year.”

Hundreds of teachers, administrators and other staff participated in summer professional development training on topics ranging from more effective classroom use of instructional technology to lesson plans centered on newly adopted reading and writing teaching resources to tools for stronger classroom and school leadership.

CCSD teachers work on a STEM activity during a summer professional development class.

All CCSD school buses were inspected and routes mapped, new technology – including the Canvas learning management system and K12PaymentCenter school meal pre-payment system – began operating, and school nutrition staff prepared to roll out new menu options like the high school grill line!

Facility maintenance crews have been among the hardest working, with a long list of repairs and upgrades scheduled when campuses are emptied for summer break. Projects have included everything from replacing lighting fixtures with more efficient LED choices and updating ceiling tiles to installing new flooring and upgrading HVAC and energy management systems.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower speaks about leadership qualities with Principals, Assistant Principals and other administrators during the Superintendent’s Leadership Symposium event, sponsored by Northside Hospital Cherokee and the Cherokee County Educational Foundation.

Thanks to community partners, Northside Hospital Cherokee and the Cherokee County Educational Foundation, the Superintendent presented a Leadership Symposium professional development program for school and district leaders at which they heard remarks from him and leadership speaker Brian Dodd and attended break-out sessions on new CCSD initiatives led by senior staff.

“We’re focused on continuous improvement in every aspect of our organization to fulfill our mission of educating the emerging generation” Dr. Hightower said. “When school opens on August 1, we’ll be ready and stronger than ever before.”

Debra Murdock, CCSD Executive Director of Administrative Leadership, engages school administrators in a session at the Superintendent’s Leadership Symposium professional development event.

CCSD Transportation Technician Brad Benton replaces an axle on a school bus. All 452 CCSD school buses were inspected this summer by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

CCSD Maintenance Technicians Tim McFarland (on ladder) and Ty Adams reroute wiring in the Hickory Flat Elementary School Media Center as one of their summer maintenance projects.

CCSD Warehouse staff Wesley Lee, left, and Fred Dubois, right, deliver updated Student/Parent Handbooks to Etowah High School.

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy Principal Joey Moss, left, and Assistant Principal Susan Bruno speak with teachers and staff about the upcoming school year and present each with a school spirit wear cap.

Clark Creek ES STEM Academy teachers and leaders show off their new spirit wear caps.



CCSD Teacher Named to Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2017!

Apple Distinguished Educator logoA Cherokee County School District teacher has been named to the Apple Distinguished Educators Class of 2017!

Woodstock Elementary School teacher Kristen Brooks is the first CCSD educator to achieve this distinguished honor, which Apple began in 1994 to recognize K-12 and higher education pioneers who use the company’s products to transform teaching and learning.

Kristin Brooks

Kristin Brooks

Ms. Brooks and her fellow Class of 2017 honorees were hand-picked from thousands of applicants and join 2,500 visionary educators and innovative leaders worldwide previously named to this elite group. Apple Distinguished Educators serve as advisors, authors and ambassadors for Apple and as advocates for their peers in the classroom.

“Our mission is to educate the emerging generation, and we must continue to advance our teachers’ technology knowledge to best prepare students for future success in our digital world,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Teachers like Ms. Brooks understand that students need to do more than engage with technology – they need to develop a sense of ownership so they can fully benefit from all these tools offer. Congratulations to Ms. Brooks, who I know will continue to share her knowledge with not only her students, but also her peers throughout our District.”

Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Brooks created and launched CCSD’s first iPad Lab at Woodstock ES. She is a 2016 Apple Educator, Apple Vanguard Certified, a Certified BrainPOP Educator, OSMO Ambassador and Seesaw the Learning Journal Ambassador, as well as winner of a 2015 PBS Digital Innovator Award.

“Kristen is a true innovator for our students, is a model for other teachers and schools, and she has been a featured speaker at national conferences,” Woodstock ES Principal Kim Montalbano said. “It is exciting to see such a tremendous recognition of her vision and hard work.”