Instructional Leadership: Dr. Nicole Holmes
The 2021 Award for Instructional Leadership was presented by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower to Dr. Nicole Holmes, a longtime CCSD teacher and past Principal of Liberty ES who now serves as CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer, overseeing curriculum, instruction, Special Education and staff and professional development among her numerous roles.
The presentation was made in front of her colleagues at the last Principals’ meeting of the school year.
Dr. Hightower praised Dr. Holmes for her many outstanding efforts over the past year, but especially her role as the lead for preparing for CCSD’s recent successful renewal of its accreditation and the achievement of the school district’s highest ever accreditation score.
“She knocked it right out the park,” Dr. Hightower said of CCSD’s accreditation renewal preparation. “The reviewed called us back and said they were so impressed with the system she used to organize our data and documentation that they want to use us as a model for other districts across the nation.”
Instructional Advocacy: Jason Blakey
Mr. Blakey, second from right, is congratulated by his Credit Union of Georgia colleagues and Dr. Hightower.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presented the 2021 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Advocacy to Jason Blakey of Credit Union of Georgia at a CCSD senior staff meeting, and Mr. Blakey’s colleagues from Credit Union of Georgia were invited to attend as part of the surprise.
Dr. Hightower praised Mr. Blakey for his longtime support of CCSD through his role with the credit union, a CCSD Partner that sponsors numerous special CCSD programs throughout the school year. Mr. Blakey is known by teachers and staff throughout the CCSD community for his delivery of prizes to outstanding educators on behalf of the credit union and for serving as a guest speaker in classes to help teach financial literacy. His wife, Jennifer, is the Avery Elementary School media specialist and a past Teacher of the Year; two of their children have graduated from CCSD schools, with their younger child still attending.
“It’s not just a business relationship for Jason – it goes a lot deeper,” Dr. Hightower said of Mr. Blakey’s support of CCSD. “He knows the hours our teachers and staff invest in our kids. I can’t thank him enough for all he does – he’s been a friend of ours for a long time. This honor is long overdue.”
Mr. Blakey shared thanks for the recognition, but was quick to turn the spotlight back on educators.
“I appreciate all the work you do for our kids,” he said. “It’s a thankless job, especially these days in this climate. I appreciate the hard work, the foresight, the dedication. Opening up school in person two years ago was a huge deal. I’m thankful for the sacrifices you make and the stepping out that you do and the arrows you take for it – it’s important for our community and for our state.”
Instructional Excellence: Julie Geoghagan
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, poses with 2021 Game Changer Award winner Julie Geoghagan of Sequoyah HS, along with Sequoyah HS Principal Robert Van Alstyne.
Dr. Hightower on Tuesday afternoon visited Sequoyah High School to surprise the 2021 Game Changer for Instructional Excellence winner, math teacher Julie Geoghagan, in a room filled with her peers.
“I was shocked, honored and humbled when the Superintendent recognized me for my continued efforts in striving to become a better teacher,” Ms. Geoghagan said of receiving the award. “I could not be the teacher I am without the support of the Sequoyah High School staff and the opportunities given by CCSD; I’m thankful to this district for continuously challenging me to be a better teacher!”
Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Geoghagan for being a “rock star math teacher” and engaging her students with mathematical reasoning by thinking outside the box to constantly improve and grow instruction.
Instructional Support: Tina Farmer
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower presented the 2021 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Support to CCSD School Nutrition Executive Director Tina Farmer at a CCSD senior staff meeting.
Dr. Hightower praised Ms. Farmer for her outstanding service to CCSD students over the past six years, noting the work she has done to improve the department’s meal quality and variety, finances and staff recruitment and retention. He noted her exceptional professionalism, which she models for her team daily, and her work to foster a positive culture.
“We believe her actions change the trajectory for our kids,” Dr. Hightower said, noting that students perform better academically when they have access to nutritious meals and also benefit from positive interactions with cafeteria staff. “We’re so proud of the work she has done.”
Ms. Farmer, who next school year will take on additional responsibilities overseeing procurement for CCSD, said she was surprised and honored by the award.
She previously worked for the Georgia Department of Education and made the decision to join the district after meeting Dr. Hightower at the CCSD Science Olympiad, which she attended as a mom to CCSD students. “I appreciate your support,” she said, “and the support we receive from every department.”