2017- 2018 Carmel Elementary School Teacher of The Year – Heidi Sansone!

2017- 2018 Carmel Elementary School Teacher of The Year – Heidi Sansone!

Congratulations to our 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Heidi Sansone!

2017 Carmel ES Teacher of the Year Heidi Sansone pictured with her family and Carmel ES Administration. We are thrilled to announce that Mrs. Heidi Sansone has been selected by her peers as the 2017 – 2018 Carmel Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Sansone shared the following regarding her nomination.

I am honored and humbled to represent Carmel Elementary School as their Teacher of the Year.  This is my 10th year working as a teacher.  I earned a B.A. degree in Economics and Computer Science at S.U.N.Y. Cortland College. After graduation, I enjoyed two very successful careers.  I worked in the retail management industry for three years, then, changing gears, I moved to Wall Street, which had always been my dream.  I was a successful, well-valued and respected employee at one of the top five investment banks in the country.  That was the job I had always wanted, but in one striking moment, I realized that there was something very important lacking in my thriving career.

I vividly remember sitting in the corner of my living room, watching my three-year-old daughter, Emily, sitting on the floor next to her baby sister, Madeline.  In Emily’s hands was the book Go Dog Go by Dr. Seuss.  For a moment, I thought I was hearing things, but I listened closer and realized that the sounds were real.  My little girl was reading!  No, she was not a child prodigy who was able to read at three years old, but rather a bright, enthusiastic child who loved to listen to stories.  I had read her the story so many times that she was able to recite it, page by page, front to back.  She had learned to recite that story.

Looking back on that day, I realized that what had been missing from my successful career was a real sense of fulfillment.  The feeling I had when I heard her utter those words was priceless.  I had taught her how to recite that story and I realized at that moment that not one of my professional successes had ever left me so fulfilled.  I saw that I had the ability to teach and that I had made a difference in her life.  I never imagined that this little girl would learn so much, so quickly.  I had completely underestimated the creativity and ability that a child possesses at such a young age.

Within the next few months, I enrolled in graduate school at Long Island University in 2005 and resigned from “Corporate America” in 2007 to complete my student teaching.  I graduated in May, 2007 with a Master’s degree and  dual certification in Childhood Education and Literacy.  Within 6 months of graduation, my family relocated to Georgia for my husband’s job.  After three years of long-term substitute teaching, I was fortunate enough to be hired as a Carmel Colt.  Over the last 10 years, I have had an opportunity to teach in classrooms from Kindergarten through fifth grade.  I have been a first grade teacher for the past four years, where my passion lies.

I put my heart and soul into my students every day.  I challenge them to be better than “good enough”, and I encourage them to be better than they were yesterday. I teach them to measure themselves, and not to measure themselves against someone else.  My top priority is making sure that every student in my classroom has an opportunity to feel successful and to provide them with activities that allow them to recognize their own growth and accomplishments.

Over the years, I have come to know that I possess the characteristics necessary to be a successful teacher: patience, determination, resilience, strength, ambition, and, most of all, the desire to make a difference.  My previous career accustomed me to long hours, hard work, and great challenges, and allowed me the opportunity to realize that I wanted more from my life’s work than a paycheck. Rather than saying “I have a job,” I say with the greatest enthusiasm and pride, “I am a teacher.”  I want to be able to look back on my life and know that I made a difference.

Mrs. Sansone will be celebrated in December with the other CCSD Teacher’s of The Year at the annual CCSD TOTY Banquet.

Daughters of the American Revolution American History Essay Contest

The Fifth Grade students participated in the Daughters of the American Revolution American History Essay Contest. The topic was “Celebrating a Century: America’s National Parks”. We are very proud of our 5th graders winners.  The  award ceremony will be March 7, 2017 at Freedom Middle School at 6:30 PM.

Essay winners pictured in the 5th grade hallway

2017 DAR Essay Winners

Carmel’s Winners:

Ms. Gazaway – 1st period  

1st- Jacob Price

2nd- Ace Conner

3rd- Hailey Biles

Ms. Gazaway – 2nd period  

1st – Mia Terrado

2nd – Haley Wilson

3rd – Petra Fuentes

Ms. Newton – 1st  period   

1st – Cross Morgan

2nd – Samaiya Jennings

3rd – Owen Schaferling

Ms. Newton- 2nd period   

1st – Hayleigh Wright

2nd – Aldo Ferretiz

3rd – Michelle Vu

Ms. Tucker- 1st period    

1st – Blake Schappert

2nd – Caroline Powell

3rd – Emma Beggs

Ms. Tucker- 2nd period    

1st – Leann Cwieka

2nd – Eowyn Ordones

3rd – Katelyn Hawkins

Ms. Tucker- 3rd period   

1st – Jackson Warren

2nd – Saul Silva-Garcia

3rd – Emanuel Torres

Carmel Cares for Others

This Holiday Season, Carmel ES students, staff and parents continue to serve the community in many ways.

  • 4th Grade Students conducted a Food Drive for those in need, collecting 864 Pounds of Food.
  • PTA Trivia Night collected jackets, coats, underwear, socks and hats for the Clothing Closet at Heritage Presbyterian Church.

Clothing Closet Donation


Clothing Closet Donation

Clothing Closet Donation












  • Ambassadors, Safety Patrol, Beta Club and AIM Students are collecting toys for the Must Ministries Toy Drive – For more information check out this flyer: Toy Drive
  • Carmel PTA Blood Drive on December 5th
  • December 16th is Pajama Day for Relay for Life – for a $1.00 donation students can wear their pajamas to school and support a wonderful cause.

Congratulations to Mrs. Bussey – our 2016 – 2017 Teacher of the Year!

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Category : Accolades | Teachers

Carmel is excited to announce that our 2016 – 2017 Carmel Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Dianne Bussey.

2016-17 Teacher of the Year Dianne Bussey

Congratulations Mrs. Bussey!!

Mrs. Bussey shared the following regarding her nomination:

“I am so honored to represent Carmel Elementary, the best school in Cherokee County.  This is year 31 in my teaching career, 28 of which have been spent in Cherokee County.  In 1989 my husband and I relocated to Cherokee County and I was hired to teach at Chapman Elementary School.  When Chapman became Carmel Elementary, I became a proud Carmel Colt.   Along the way I have taught first grade, second grade, third grade, and, most recently, EIP reading and math.

Throughout my career I’ve learned some valuable lessons.  First, I had a daughter. That was an eye-opener.  Learning to view education from both the side of a parent and a teacher was a valuable lesson.  I think Anna made me a more compassionate teacher.  As a family I learned that juggling school, sports, church, etc, can be very difficult.  And while we value education in my family, I also learned that those other things help complete my child and make her the best individual possible.  It also helped me develop greater compassion for students who find school challenging.  Learning looks very different from one student to the next.  As such, I have to remember that it is my job to make sure students have more than one way to be successful.
Another lesson is that the curriculum will change. Over and over and over.  Every few years someone comes up with the next great answer for teaching students and making them successful.  The truth is student success is never a magic curriculum or presentation model.  Each student is unique.  All have strengths and weaknesses, good days and bad, accomplishments and challenges.  It is important to connect with students and learn what they need at the moment to be successful.  So many aspects of teaching go beyond what is written in the lesson plan for the day.  Each moment is a chance to ask questions and learn what a student is thinking or feeling.  Each day is filled with opportunities to pause and make a difference in a student’s life.  It may be explaining long division in a different way, providing another example of a problem, teaching a new strategy to  decode that difficult word, or just listening to a story of what happened to them last night. All are important. It means I get the chance to make a difference every day.  How wonderful, amazing, and  powerful!!  It is my hope that I remember this daily and let it guide my actions so that my students leave feeling empowered, confident, and worthy.  And if they feel that, they will learn and succeed.”

Carmel Named Promising Practices Award Winner

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Promising Practices Award LogoCarmel Elementary School has won an International award recognizing their effective strategies to develop positive character in their students.


Carmel Elementary School is among the 326 winners worldwide of Character.org Promising Practices awards.


They one of only four schools from Georgia to win the honor bestowed on schools and youth-serving organizations from across the United States, as well as from Canada, China, Colombia, and Mexico.


“These great ideas really highlight the creative efforts of amazing teachers all across America — and the world,” Promising Practices Program Director Dr. Dave Keller said. “It’s great to recognize what’s going well in the classroom.  These practices represent practical, effective ways to develop empathy, enhance conflict resolution skills, and inspire good citizenship.”


Carmel ES was recognized for its community children’s garden project.


Winning initiatives will be celebrated and highlighted at the National Forum on Character Education in Washington, D.C. in October.


This is the second Promising Practices honor for Carmel ES, which also was recognized in 2014.  Carmel ES has been previously named a National School of Character. 



Merry Willis Wins Prestigious Fulbright Award

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Category : Accolades | Teachers


A Carmel Elementary teacher has won a prestigious Fulbright Award!Picture of Merry Willis

Carmel Elementary School STEM enrichment specialist Merry Willis has been selected by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to study in New Zealand.

Recipients are selected based on their academic and professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential; Ms. Willis is one of only 45 U.S. citizens named Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant winners for 2016‐17. She will visit Wellington, New Zealand from February to June of 2017 and observe how technology impacts student learning throughout the country. Ms. Willis will focus on developing classroom resources, collaborative relationships and cross‐cultural professional development for teachers in New Zealand and the U.S. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, according to the State Department, and is “designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to “study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Prominent Fulbright alumni include: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; John Hope Franklin, noted American historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; and Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate.

Ms. Willis has received numerous honors in her education career, which she began in 2004 at Carmel ES and where she previously has taught Grades 3–5. Recent honors include being named a 2015‐16 Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert and 2015 Master Trainer, Museum of Aviation National STEM Academy’s STEM Teacher of the Year for 2015‐15, Pitsco National Teacher of the Year for 2013‐ 14, 2011 Emerging International Society for Technology in Education Leader, 2011 Carmel ES Teacher of the Year and 2009 National Mickelson ExxonMobil Teacher’s Academy participant. She is a coach for Carmel Elementary’s Science Olympiad and Academic Teams, sponsors the Technology Club, and for three years has served as lead teacher for CCSD’s STEM Cherokee professional development programs. An adjunct professor at Reinhardt University and a Cherokee County Special Olympics Swim Team volunteer coach, Ms. Willis also has served on the Regional and State Technology Fair Planning Committees, State National Educational Technology Standards for Students lesson plan development team and Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Tests Content Review and Data Analysis Teams.

Ms. Willis, who has Gifted teaching and Teach 21 technology endorsements, earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree from Kennesaw State University and Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and Educational Specialist Degree in Technology Management and Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

Congratulations to Karen Mervis – 2016 Golden Apple Award Winner

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Category : Accolades | Teachers

Picture of Karen Mervis

Congratulations to 1st Grade teacher Karen Mervis, who was selected by the staff at Carmel Elementary as the Golden Apple Award Winner. Mrs. Mervis will be recognized at a reception on May 17th.