Skip To Main Content

Logo Image

Logo Title

2019-20 Special Education Staff of of the Year Awards

CCSD 2020 Special Education Staff of the Year 5 19 20

The Cherokee County School District is celebrating four of its outstanding special education team members!

Four members of the Department of Special Education received its top annual honors during a ceremony on Monday held virtually online.

They are: Special Education Facilitator of the Year Wendy McDaniel, Occupational Therapist of the Year Liz Gama, School Psychologist of the Year Bene Austin, and Speech-Language Therapist of the Year Brandi Wood.  Special education teachers and paraprofessionals are eligible for recognition through other CCSD awards programs.

Each of the honorees received a $200 Amazon gift card and plaque sponsored by CCSD Partner, Credit Union of Georgia.

“We believe that every student can achieve goals with the support of our educators,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Our Special Education team helps our students overcome obstacles every day so they can do their best.  We’re incredibly proud of Wendy, Liz, Bene and Brandi for all they accomplish every day to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.  Congratulations and thank you!”

Ms. McDaniel, who joined CCSD more than 18 years ago when she began her education career, works with students, families and teachers at Ball Ground ES STEM Academy, Teasley MS and Etowah HS in her role as a special education facilitator.  A Superintendent’s Leadership Academy graduate, Ms. McDaniel previously served as a teacher and department chair at Cherokee HS and Teasley MS. 
As a colleague shared: “Wendy is passionate about her job and responsibilities to children with disabilities and the School District; she has integrity in that she is sincere in her work ethic to do what is right and not what is easy; she is an effective communicator; and she does this all with the humility that it takes to be a great leader.”

In her role as an occupational therapist (OT), Ms. Gama serves students at Arnold Mill ES, Creekland MS, Creekview HS.

As a colleague shared: “Liz has gone above and beyond with digital learning.  She has assisted all of her mentor group in setting up the Canvas page and is sharing her lessons that she creates every week for her students.  She has had a great attitude and is always willing to help her fellow OTs.”

Bene Austin, a 10-year educator, serves as a school psychologist for the Woodstock Innovation Zone, which includes Woodstock HS, Woodstock MS and its feeder elementary schools.  She also has worked in CCSD at Etowah HS, E.T. Booth MS, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy and Boston ES.

As a colleague shared: “I value her insight and approach.  Bene advocates for students by working with the educational team members to better understand the student’s strengths and weaknesses and then work together to problem-solve and develop a plan.  Bene is an asset to the District.”

Brandi Wood joined CCSD eight years ago and serves as a speech-language pathologist for Avery ES and provides assistive technology support.

As a colleague shared: “Ms. Wood is a huge asset to the Cherokee County School District.  She always goes above and beyond for her students and colleagues.”