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Superintendent’s Game Changer Awards

Last Updated: 12/14/2022 8:31 PM

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The Superintendent of Schools' "Premier Awards" Annually Recognizing Instructional Excellence

2022 Awards

Instructional Excellence: Brandon Grummer

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, today presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence to Sequoyah HS Career Pathways teacher Brandon Grummer.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, today presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence to Sequoyah HS Career Pathways teacher Brandon Grummer.

A Sequoyah High School teacher has earned a top award for instructional excellence from the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools!

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower today presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence to Sequoyah HS Career Pathways teacher Brandon Grummer.  He made the surprise presentation to Mr. Grummer, who leads the school’s engineering drafting and design and architectural drafting and design programs, in front of his peers during a faculty meeting.

Four Game Changer awards are presented by Dr. Hightower each year: Instructional Excellence to a classroom teacher, Instructional Support, to an employee who serves in a support staff role, Instructional Leadership to a school or district leader and Instructional Advocacy to a non-CCSD employee.

Mr. Grummer designed a successful architecture and drafting Career Pathway program at Etowah High School, building it with experience from his first career working in the industry.  He earned Etowah’s 2018 Teacher of the Year and Golden Apple honors and later joined the staff at Sequoyah High School, where he again has crafted a successful program for future architects and engineers.

“Brandon is a tremendous teacher, who is admired and respected by his students, his colleagues and the industry professionals he has built partnerships with to benefit his students,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that Mr. Grummer’s students last spring won honors in Georgia’s American Institute of Architects High School Design Competition, considered the top event for high school architecture students.  “Students learn valuable professional skills in his classes and know that they are valued by their teacher because of the great care Brandon shows each of them.”

Instructional Support: Denise Lewis

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, second from left, congratulates Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy media specialist Denise Lewis on earning the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Support.  Joining in the celebration are her husband, Mark, and Principal Penny Valle.

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, second from left, congratulates Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy media specialist Denise Lewis on earning the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Support.  Joining in the celebration are her husband, Mark, and Principal Penny Valle.

A school library media specialist has earned a top honor from the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools!

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower this week presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Support to Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy media specialist Denise Lewis.

Four Game Changer awards are presented by Dr. Hightower each year: Instructional Support, to an employee who serves in a support staff role, Instructional Excellence to a classroom teacher, Instructional Leadership to a school or district leader and Instructional Advocacy to a non-CCSD employee.

Dr. Hightower thanked Ms. Lewis for her contributions to student learning, especially her role in helping lead the school in its recent successful transition from a Fine Arts Academy to a STEAM (STEM plus the arts) Academy.

“Media specialists play an important role in our schools, and Denise is an outstanding leader among them,” Dr. Hightower said.  “She excels in her daily responsibilities, such as running the library, teaching students about literacy, research and technology and supporting teachers with resources.  What makes her a Game Changer is that she not only does all that and more with excellence, she also took on additional responsibilities to help achieve the school’s transformation to a STEAM program.”    

Ms. Lewis, a 22-year educator and past Innovation Zone Media Specialist of the Year, also was praised by Principal Penny Valle for her leadership in developing a 21st century media center and earning Common Sense national digital citizenship certification for the school.

Instructional Leadership: Rodney Larrotta

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, today presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Principal Rodney Larrotta.

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, today presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Principal Rodney Larrotta.

The principal of Cherokee High School has earned a top honor from the Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools!

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, today at his monthly meeting with all principals, presented the 2022 Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Principal Rodney Larrotta.

Four Game Changer awards are presented by Dr. Hightower each year: Instructional Excellence to a classroom teacher, Instructional Leadership to a school or district leader, Instructional Support, to an employee who serves in a support staff role, and Instructional Advocacy to a non-CCSD employee.

Dr. Hightower praised Principal Larrotta, who was celebrated by his colleagues at the meeting with a standing ovation, for his dedication to Cherokee High and its entire community.

“When you talk about leadership, when you talk about this leader, you think passion, you think care,” Dr. Hightower said as he revealed Principal Larrotta as the winner by describing his character.  “You think accountability balanced with grace.  You think vision and being able to get into the weeds and work on the details … Rodney has done everything we’ve asked him to do and so much more.  I’ve been amazed by the type of person he is.” 

Principal Larrotta, who has led Cherokee HS since 2020, previously served as principal at Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy, an assistant principal at Cherokee HS and as a Woodstock HS teacher during his more than 20 years of service with CCSD.  Prior to joining CCSD, he served as a teacher in Florida and has worked as an instructor for Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia Virtual School and Kennesaw State University.  A graduate of the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy, Principal Larrotta has earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages, master’s in education degree, specialist in educational leadership degree from Kennesaw State University, as well as a certificate in social and emotional learning from Rutgers University.  

Instructional Advocacy: Pam Carnes

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presents the 2022 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Advocacy to Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Carnes.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presents the 2022 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Advocacy to Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Carnes.

Cherokee County’s Superintendent of Schools has honored a local business leader for supporting the Cherokee County School District.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presented the 2022 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Advocacy to Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce President Pam Carnes.  He made the surprise presentation before a room filled with local business and community leaders attending the chamber’s monthly Good Morning Cherokee breakfast on Thursday.

Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Carnes for her longtime support of CCSD through her role with the chamber, including through such longtime programs as Partners in Education and Teen Leadership Cherokee.

“Pam understands the important role a school district has in the success of a business community, and she has helped both flourish in Cherokee County,” Dr. Hightower said.  “Local businesses need our graduates as future employees, and our school district’s reputation attracts families who will become local businesses’ customers.  Local businesses that partner with our schools and share their time, talent and treasure with our students and teachers make an important positive impact on student success.  We’re thankful for Pam’s support and leadership and look forward to many more future collaborations.”  

Ms. Carnes, as she accepted the award, gave thanks to the school district for the role it has played in her life.  Both her daughters are CCSD graduates and her husband, Brian, is a Sequoyah High School teacher and past CCSD Teacher of the Year winner.

“We believe in education,” she said.  “We believe in all students, including those who need an extra push to succeed.  Every child needs that chance.” 

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2021 Superintendent's Game Changer Awards

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2019 Superintendent's Game Changer Awards

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2017 Superintendent's Game Changer Awards