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Board Briefs: School Board Recognizes Retiring Leaders

Posted On: Friday, February 15, 2019

retirees and appointments - board meeting 02 14 19

From left to right, top row: retiring leaders Chief Mark Kissel and Principals David Childress and Cindy Crews; second row: retiring Principal Tammy Sandell, and newly appointed Coordinator Jennifer Garland and Director Sarah Kessel; and bottom row: newly appointed director Dr. Michael Manzella.

NOTE: Click here for photos from the meeting.

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 recognized retiring Principals and the School District’s retiring police chief and approved appointments to fill several leadership vacancies for next school year. 

The monthly personnel recommendations made more news than usual due to the announcement of retirements of several longtime leaders and the naming of two Office of Curriculum & Instruction directors and a coordinator for 2019-20 operations.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, following the School Board’s approval of the recommendations, took time to recognize the retirees and introduce the new leaders.

School Police Chief Mark Kissel, who established CCSD’s Police Department upon his hiring in 1999, was commended for his successful career and the foundation he built for future generations.  Under his leadership, the Department grew from a vision to a 23-member team of POST-certified officers and staff that is one of only five statewide recognized as a Certified Law Enforcement Agency. 

A 49-year veteran of law enforcement, Chief Kissel, in his role with CCSD, developed a national reputation in the field and established the Georgia Association of Secondary School Law Enforcement Executives, for which he also has served as president.  A Georgia POST Council senior instructor and Georgia State University adjunct faculty member, Chief Kissel also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees during his successful career.

“He carved out the School District police force from the ground up,” Dr. Hightower said of Chief Kissel, a third-generation law enforcement officer, who was saluted by the audience with a standing ovation. “We’re very proud of the work he has done.    

The three retiring Principals recognized Thursday are David Childress of Woodstock Middle, Cindy Crews of Sixes Elementary and Tammy Sandell of Knox Elementary.  They all will continue their service through the end of the school year and help their successors, who will be named as soon as next month, with their transition into the role.

“After many years of great service to public school children, they are retiring, and we want to honor their careers,” Dr. Hightower said, as he recognized each retiree to rounds of applause from the audience of students, parents and educators.  “Thank you and congratulations!”

Principal Childress joined CCSD in 1998 as a math teacher and coach at Etowah High School, advancing to assistant principal there and then at Macedonia Elementary and E.T. Booth Middle prior to his appointment as Principal of Woodstock Middle in 2015.  A former All State Baseball Coach, Principal Childress’s accomplishments in his current role include three consecutive years of recognition as a “Greatest Gains” school by the Governor.

Principal Crews began her education career in 1992 as a first-grade teacher at Boston Elementary and then at Bascomb Elementary prior to earning an assistant principal spot at Sixes Elementary, where she was named Principal in 2014.  Her long list of education awards includes not only Teacher of the Year for Bascomb Elementary, but also CCSD Teacher of the Year in 2003, as well as Georgia Master Teacher and National Board Certification honors. 

Principal Sandell started teaching in 1990, with her first classroom at Boston Elementary, followed by tenure at Buffington Elementary and then an appointment to assistant principal at Woodstock Middle.  She returned to Buffington in 2004 to serve as Principal, then was appointed to the same role at Mountain Road Elementary and finally, at Knox Elementary in 2013.  Her many accomplishments include earning the Phi Delta Kappa Teacher of the Year and being nominated for the PTA Outstanding Principal Award, but she may be most proud of the kickoff this school year of the #BeKind initiative at Knox. 
The two leaders tapped to serve as curriculum directors are Dr. Michael Manzella, currently Principal of E.T. Booth Middle, who will oversee middle and high school programs; and Sarah Kessel, who will oversee elementary and comes to CCSD from Cobb County Schools, where she serves as its K12 Supervisor.  

The newly minted doctor of educational leadership began his career in his alma mater district 14 years ago as a paraprofessional at Liberty Elementary.  Dr. Manzella then taught for seven years at Cherokee High, advanced to assistant principal at Woodstock High, and was appointed to his current post in 2017, where he was named the PTA’s County and District 13 Outstanding Middle School Principal of the Year.  Ms. Kessel’s more than 20 years of experience include classroom teaching, as well as roles as a Gifted instructor and math coach, and she has earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in education fields.

Dr. Hightower introduced both leaders to the School Board, as well as Jennifer Garland, who will serve as CCSD’s new coordinator of curriculum support for literacy, another position opened by retirement.  A 19-year educator, Ms. Garland has worked for the last four years in CCSD’s professional development office following roles as an academic coach and classroom teacher.

“We’re so proud to have these leaders in these roles with us,” Dr. Hightower said.

During the meeting, School Board Member Clark Menard brought up an issue long advocated for by the Board: bringing back a two-diploma system in Georgia to provide greater opportunities for students interested in entering the workforce or a technical college rather than a four-year university.

Mr. Menard applauded State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Woods for raising the issue during a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees.  Woods, in his remarks, noted that 88% of Georgians support high school jobs skills and career classes, “even if it means students spend less time in academic classes.”

“I hope in the next four years we can really see some movement on that,” Mr. Menard said of reinstituting a job skills and career-focused diploma track.

The School Board also:

• Recognized Creekview High School Principal Dr. Mark Merges as a finalist for the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals' Principal of the Year;

• Recognized Cherokee High School Athletic Director Jeremy Adams as Region 4-7A Athletic Director of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD’s 2018-19 STAR Students and STAR Teachers;

• Recognized 2018-19 Middle School County Academic Bowl Team Champions Freedom Middle School;

• Approved a resolution recognizing Feb. 28, 2019 as PTA Day in CCSD;

• Approved monthly financial reports;

• Approved out-of-state travel and out-of-state and overnight field trips;

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report; and,

• Approved special lease agreements.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, 2019

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