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2017 Teacher of the Year

2017 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration

The Cherokee County School Board, front row, and Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, front row center, pose for a commemorative photo with Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes, left of the Superintendent, and school-level winners at the annual Teacher of the Year Recognition Banquet.

Read more here about the 2017 School winners!

The Cherokee County School District celebrated outstanding educators with an elegant dinner, tributes and gifts at the 2017 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration, thanks to the support of community partners.

The annual dinner for the CCSD Teacher of the Year and school-level Teachers of the Year was co-hosted by Credit Union of Georgia and Northside Hospital-Cherokee on Dec. 8, 2016 at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center in Canton.

Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulated CCSD 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah High School, as well as all school-level winners during the event, which also was attended by all CCSD Principals, the Superintendent’s Cabinet and the School Board.

“Our School District’s Teacher of the Year exemplifies what you can accomplish when you take a risk to follow your heart’s calling,” Dr. Hightower said of Mr. Carnes, who left behind a successful career in the poultry industry to pursue his dream of teaching high school chemistry.  “We’re so glad he listened, as are the hundreds of students who learned from him in special education, science and Advanced Placement Chemistry classes over the last 12 years.  And the many others who benefitted from his leadership as Student Government Association sponsor.”

Dr. Hightower then introduced Madison Evans, one of Mr. Carnes’s former students, who spoke about how Mr. Carnes encouraged and taught her so well, her current college chemistry classes seem easy.

Mr. Carnes in his speech spoke about how his faith in his teaching abilities, which started “as small as a mustard seed,” coupled with his family’s support, enabled him to “move mountains” and not only fulfill his dream, but also earn accolades.  He congratulated all of the school-level Teachers of the Year for their accomplishments, noting how hearing about their successes during the evening’s program made his award even more meaningful and humbling.

Dr. Hightower presented gifts to all of the school Teacher of the Year winners, including a $150 Visa Gift Card, a portrait by Lifetouch Portrait Studio and an engraved plaque and a tote bag filled with supplies and gifts.

Mr. Carnes additionally received: an XPS-13 laptop computer from Dell; a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Bundle from Southern Computer Warehouse; a Chromebook 13g1 laptop computer from Hewlett Packard; a $500 Visa gift card from the Cherokee County Educational Foundation; a $400 Visa gift card from Alcatel-Lucent; an iPad Mini 2 from Toshiba; an Amazon Echo from CommScope; a $100 Amazon gift card from  Follett; and gifts from Massage Envy and Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Sponsors who made all of the gifts possible are:

Presenting Sponsors: Credit Union of Georgia and Northside Hospital-Cherokee;

Platinum Sponsor: Cherokee County Educational Foundation;

Gold Sponsors: Dell, Hewlett Packard, Lifetouch Portrait Studio, Mark Harville Inc., Poole’s Insulation and Southern Computer Warehouse;

Silver Sponsors: Alcatel-Lucent, Center Cut Catering, Cherokee Education Association, Cobb EMC, Fforg Inc., Georgia Association of Educators, Liberty Mutual Insurance,, Path & Post, A Becky Babcock Team and Toshiba Business Solutions;

Bronze Sponsors: Chick-fil-A of Canton, CommScope, FloorCare Specialists Inc., Follett, Massage Envy, Nova Engineering & Environmental LLC, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Roly Poly of Woodstock and The Travel Store; and,

Friends of CCSD sponsors: AngelTrax, Educators First, Kroger and Quia/IXL.

2017 School Teachers of the Year

Stephen Schroter, ACE Academy

Terry Chadwick, Arnold Mill ES

Ta-Tanisha Hill-Guy, Avery ES

Chessa McGinnis, Ball Ground ES STEM Academy

Bettina Miller, Bascomb ES

Scott Lambert, Boston ES

Darby Bewley, CCSD Preschool Centers

David Cornn, Canton ES STEM Academy

Dianne Bussey, Carmel ES

Clyde Lowery, Cherokee HS

Lauren Abrams, Clark Creek ES STEM Academy

Andrea Ingham, Clayton ES

Debby Amoss, Creekland MS

Kerri Schmitt, Creekview HS

Jacqueline Allen, Dean Rusk MS

Daniele Deneka, E.T. Booth MS

Debbie Rufa, Etowah HS

Kristi Townley, Free Home ES

Brandi Shook, Freedom MS

Ashley Mounts, Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy

Erika Graves, Hickory Flat ES

Jana Cervone, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy

Shelly Brumbelow, Indian Knoll ES

Michael L’Esperance, Johnston ES

Tricia Weathers, Knox ES

Maria McCall, Liberty ES

Maureen Boll, Little River ES

Tenille Turner, Macedonia ES

Andrew McEntyre, Mill Creek MS

Tina Rogers, Mountain Road ES

Mary Kenney, Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy

Ada Rogers, R.M. Moore ES

Joel Roth, River Ridge HS

Brian Carnes, Sequoyah HS

Lori Pelkey, Sixes ES

Dr. Jennifer Reynolds, Teasley MS

Elaine Warner, Tippens Education Center

Emily Spira, Woodstock ES

Julie Crowe, Woodstock HS

B.J. Mazza, Woodstock MS

Sequoyah HS Science Teacher Named CCSD 2017 Teacher of the Year!

Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes, center, is congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, left, and Sequoyah Principal Elliott Berman.

Watch a video from the surprise presentation:

When Brian Carnes reflects on his successes, he humbly jokes: “not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

“Chicken farmer” has been a nickname for the poultry industry leader-turned-science teacher at Sequoyah High School since he made the career change 12 years ago.

Today, Nov. 4, 2016, he earned a new nickname: Cherokee County School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Or “best chicken farmer teacher ever” for short.

Cherokee County School District 2017 Teacher of the Year Brian Carnes of Sequoyah High School.

“I was very surprised and excited just be to named Sequoyah High School’s Teacher of the Year… it’s such an excellent school.  I know all of the great teachers we have in Cherokee County, so this,” the Cherokee County native said after being surprised with the CCSD honor by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, “this is just kind of overwhelming to me.”

The CCSD Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year.  The school winners are selected by their peers.  Mr. Carnes will be honored in December at the annual “Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration” sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia.  He also will serve as CCSD’s nominee for Georgia Teacher of the Year; the winner will be named in the spring.

“He teaches with a lot of heart,” Dr. Hightower said, as he congratulated Mr. Carnes, who he calls “a super-teacher,” in front of one of his AP (Advanced Placement) Chemistry classes.  “Besides having tough academics -- I know he pushes you -- he cares about you.  I know he helps you all along the way.  And that’s what we’re about.”

Mr. Carnes, who attended Buffington Elementary School and graduated from Cherokee High School where he was active in FFA, began his career in the poultry industry.  With degrees in agriculture (bachelor’s from University of Georgia) and quality systems technology (master’s from Southern Polytechnic State University), Mr. Carnes succeeded in the industry for 15 years.

But his heart began to whisper of another plan for him: teaching children to love science.

He talked to mentors, like his former agriculture teacher Dr. Dwight Pullen, and his family and friends.  And then he flew the coop.

Principal Elliot Berman said he’s proud to say he hired Mr. Carnes in 2004.  Mr. Carnes began teaching special education, then moved into science and then took on AP Chemistry.  Along the way, Mr. Carnes earned certifications, endorsements and awards… like the Delta Kappa Gamma International Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, STAR Teacher and, last year, the valedictorian picked him as her “outstanding teacher” for CCSD recognition.

“Mr. Carnes has taught some of the most challenged to some of the most gifted, yet they were taught with the same compassion,” Principal Berman said. “Positively impacting lives is what Mr. Carnes was destined to do, and that is what he continues to do here at Sequoyah.”

Not only is Mr. Carnes beloved for the care he shows students in the classroom as their teacher and outside the classroom in roles such as Student Government Association sponsor, he also delivers when it comes to making challenging materials comprehensible and guiding students to success on demanding AP exams.

“He honestly does care about his students and their grades and wants to develop a relationship with them,” junior Zach Davis said.  “In my opinion, he really is the most deserving teacher.”

Mr. Carnes and his wife, Pam, President & CEO of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, have two daughters, Sarah, a Sequoyah HS and University of Georgia graduate now studying for a master’s at Georgia Tech, and Rebekah, a Sequoyah HS junior.  In addition to his many roles at school, Mr. Carnes also has coached his daughters’ softball teams and volunteers with his church, Canton First United Methodist.

“My most notable accomplishments are witnessed through the many students I have impacted throughout my career,” he said.  “Each example is meaningful whether it be a special education student who overcame great obstacles to become a productive member of society or my many AP students who have been inspired to pursue careers in the sciences as doctors, engineers or physicists; not bad for an old ‘chicken farmer.’”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Sequoyah HS chemistry teacher Brian Carnes with the news he is CCSD's 2017 Teacher of the Year.
Sequoyah HS Chemistry teacher Brian Carnes, center, with AP Chemistry students shortly after he is surprised with the announcement he has been named CCSD's Teacher of the Year for 2017.
Mr. Carnes's AP Chemistry class gives a round of applause for their outstanding teacher.
Mr. Carnes hugs his wife, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Pam Carnes, after the surprise announcement.
The Carnes family celebrates his award; from left, Sarah, Brian, Rebekah and Pam.