CCSD Names 2023 Counselor of the Year!
From left, CCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, CCSD Counselor of the Year Kristie Sikes, Credit Union of Georgia Cherokee Manager Jason Blakey, and Creekview HS Principal Mike Santoro.
Creekview High School counselor Kristie Sikes made a positive difference in her students’ education each day as their classroom teacher.
When she took on a new role as a graduation coach, her opportunity to make a positive impact grew schoolwide. And she found a new calling, which led her to earn a second master’s degree and change her career path to high school counselor.
That decision 13 years ago was a path well chosen, as Ms. Sikes, already named the top counselor in her innovation zone earlier this school year, today was surprised with the honor that she’s the Cherokee County School District 2023 Counselor of the Year! She now advances to the statewide Counselor of the Year competition.
“I just can’t tell you how proud I am of your career, Kristie,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said as he presented the honor, sharing he has known Ms. Sikes since she was a beginning teacher at E.T. Booth MS, where he previously served as a teacher and principal. “There is no one more deserving of this award than you! We love the work that you do on behalf of our kids.”
Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner, sponsored gifts including a $500 Visa gift card and an engraved plaque for Ms. Sikes that were presented by Cherokee Area Manager Jason Blakey. A $100 Visa gift card will be presented by Credit Union of Georgia to each of the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year at the Cherokee County School Board’s April meeting. Mr. Blakey, whose children include two Creekview HS graduates and one current student, thanked her for the positive impact she made in their lives.
CCSD Chief Operations Officer Dr. Debra Murdock and Student Services Administrator Dr. Robert Shaw, Creekview HS Principal Michael Santoro and other CCSD and school staff joined in the presentation, as did Ms. Sikes’ husband and two daughters.
Ms. Sikes joined the staff at Creekview HS 14 years ago as its graduation coach after teaching at E.T. Booth MS for nine years and serving as a graduation coach at Creekland MS. She earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education and master’s in adolescent education, both from Kennesaw State University; specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont University; and a second master’s degree in school counseling from the University of West Alabama.
Principal Santoro said Ms. Sikes “takes to heart” the school’s goals of raising academic achievement and increasing on-time graduation, “cultivating a culture in the guidance department where they feel like it is their responsibility to put our students in a position to be successful.”
“You mean the world to us and to this community,” he said. “We all rely on you and count on you.”
In her role, Ms. Sikes provides guidance counselor services to individual students, including academic, career and personal counseling, and supports her colleagues through service on school and district-level committees.
“My favorite part of being a school counselor is meeting with students, whether it is individually or in groups,” she said. “They are the reason I am in this role, and I enjoy being there for them. I absolutely love listening, giving advice or giving them the information they need to flourish. I want to guide students to success, regardless of their goals, so that they feel they can make choices and be a part of the decisions that will ultimately impact their future.”
Colleagues and parents praise Ms. Sikes for her dedication to students.
As one parent shared, that dedication saved her daughter’s life. She was an excellent student, but an overachiever whose desire to be the best led to an abundance of stress and anxiety. Her mental health declined drastically during her senior year, but “Mrs. Sikes never left our side.” She instead was there to listen to the student’s fears and help her overcome them.
“Mrs. Sikes was more than my daughter’s counselor,” the mom shared. “She was our guardian angel. The compassion and the encouragement she gave my daughter and continues to give her students far exceeds her job description.”
The award process begins with each innovation zone (high school and feeder elementary and middle schools) selecting a counselor of the year. Applications from these honorees then are considered by a panel of retired educators and community leaders, who select the CCSD Counselor of the Year.
In addition to Ms. Sikes for the Creekview Innovation Zone, the other zone winners are: Cherokee: Melissa Prater of Knox ES STEM Academy; Etowah: Lindsey Pinckard of Boston ES; River Ridge: Madonna Mezzanotte of Little River ES; Sequoyah: Sandra Hude of Hickory Flat ES; and Woodstock: Marcee Smith of Woodstock HS.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Creekview HS counselor Kristie Sikes during an administrative team meeting Monday morning with the news that she has been chosen as the CCSD Counselor of the Year.
Dr. Hightower presents Ms. Sikes with a plaque as her family holds the district winner banner.
Jason Blakey, Cherokee Area Manager with CCSD partner Credit Union of Georgia, presents Ms. Sikes with a bag of celebratory prizes, including a $500 Visa gift card.
From left, CCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower; Jared Sikes and Kinley and Kolbie Sikes, CCSD Counselor of the Year Kristie Sikes, Credit Union of Georgia Cherokee Area Manager Jason Blakey, CCSD Chief Operations Officer Dr. Debra Murdock, Creekview HS Principal Mike Santoro and Dr. Robert Shaw, CCSD’s student services administrator.
CCSD Counselor of the Year Katie Sikes reacts with surprise to see her husband and daughters walk in the room as part of the announcement.