Instructional Leadership: Andy Hall
The 2020 Award for Instructional Leadership was presented by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower to Andy Hall, a longtime CCSD teacher and past River Ridge HS assistant principal who now serves as Principal for i-Grad Virtual Academy, CCSD’s new permanent online learning choice. It opened last year for Grades 9-12, and next school year will expand to Grades 4-12.
The presentation was made in front of his colleagues at a Principals’ meeting.
Next school year, Principal Hall’s role will expand to leadership of the ACTIVE Academies campus, which also includes ACE Academy, CCSD’s daytime alternative high school; Transition Academy, a vocational and life skills program for young adults with special needs who recently completed high school; and the Cherokee College & Career Academy, which offers Career Pathway choices, like cybersecurity and next year’s aviation programs, in addition to the numerous choices at CCSD’s six traditional high schools.
“You know what it takes to create something from nothing, and that was his charge,” Dr. Hightower said of Principal Hall’s success in opening i-Grad. “We appreciate his energy and the skill he brings to the game.”
Instructional Support: Dr. Rouel Belleza
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower made a surprise presentation during a School Board meeting – the first of his four 2020 Game Changer Awards recognizing excellence in instruction.
He presented the Game Changer for Instructional Support posthumously to the late Dr. Rouel Belleza, which was accepted by his wife, Ellie.
Dr. Belleza, who passed away in November after a two-year battle with gastric cancer, served as CCSD’s first supervisor of student services in the Office of School Operations and, in this role, laid the groundwork for a future Virtual Academy program and was the original architect of the District’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) initiative.
“Rouel recognized early on that, while our primary mission is teaching and learning, effective instruction can’t happen if we neglect the mental health and well-being of our students and staff,” Dr. Hightower said. “His work has saved the lives of at-risk students and that’s a legacy that will live on for generations.”
Instructional Excellence: Christy Cook
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, Game Changer recipient Christy Cook, middle, and Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy Principal Penny Valle pose for picture after surprise presentation.
Dr. Hightower awarded Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy exploratory lab teacher Christy Cook with the 2020 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence before a room full of her fellow teachers and coworkers during a staff appreciation breakfast on Tuesday. Ms. Cook was her school’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Cook for her work in helping to build the STEAM (STEM plus art) program at Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy.
“Oak Grove recently received its State STEAM certification after a three year process and a significant amount of dedicated work in the area of STEAM,” Dr. Hightower said. “Ms. Cook led the charge, and her hard work has paid off.”
Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy Principal Penny Valle credits Ms. Cook with leading the school’s initiatives to transform from a Fine Arts Academy to a STEAM Academy.
“She brought the STEAM to our school,” Principal Valle said. “Four years ago, Ms. Cook moved from a homeroom classroom to lead our STEAM lab. She effectively and enthusiastically developed and facilitated a lab that integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math and lead our faculty and school community in our STEAM journey.”