The Cherokee County School District today surprised the overall winners of its third annual Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards!
The awards program honors one Support Staff Employee of the Year from each of CCSD’s schools, centers and central office divisions, and one overall CCSD winner is selected for each of three categories: Elementary School; Middle School/High School/Centers; Central Office.
While the traditional recognition ceremony could not be held this year, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower announced the winners during a virtual ceremony held online this evening. The overall winners are: for Elementary School: Bonnie Schroeder, supportive instruction paraprofessional for Sixes Elementary School; for Middle School/High School/Centers: David McMickens, custodian for CCSD Preschool Centers’ Ralph Bunche Center in Canton; for Central Office: Belinda Leach, clerk for CCSD Office of Technology & Information Services. (NOTE: You can watch the ceremony online here).
“We would not be able to run our schools or our School District without our dedicated support staff,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “The honorees we recognized this evening remind us all how valuable these CCSD family members are to our community every day, and especially over this past school year. The school nurses who added COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing to their other many critical responsibilities. The registrars who managed enrollment, schedules and records for dual systems as we offered both in-person and Digital Learning. The custodians who ensured our schools were even cleaner than their already high standards. We’re recognizing those who their peers named the best, but we know there also are hundreds more who have served our community with excellence this past school year. We appreciate you and all that you do.”
The overall winners are selected by a committee of retired educators and community leaders. School and division winners were selected by their colleagues; everyone who works in a support role is eligible for the honor. Teachers, counselors, media specialists, and administrators are not eligible, as they are honored through other awards programs.
Each honoree received gifts thanks to the continuing support of event sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, the Cherokee County Educational Foundation; Platinum Sponsors, Guaranteed Seamless Gutters and Credit Union of Georgia; Gold Sponsor, Cobb EMC; and Silver Sponsor, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The three overall winners each were awarded a $300 Visa gift card funded by the sponsors, $50 gift certificate for Local on North given by Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, $50 gift certificate from Riverstone Corner Bistro, a spa package gift certificate from Practically Perfect Day Spa in Canton, $50 Amazon gift card from Centegix, $50 Amazon gift card from Nova Engineering & Environmental LLC, a Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County gift certificate, and coffee from local distributor Alma Coffee. The school- and division-level winners each received a $150 Visa gift card funded by the sponsors and gifts from ABM Industries, Allegro Business Products, Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County, Cintas, Cobb EMC, Credit Union of Georgia, Double V Restaurants, Inc. McDonald’s, Northside Hospital Cherokee, and Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
Every week, a different school or division Support Staff Employee of the Year winner will be featured on CCSD’s website and social media platforms. The winners also will be congratulated by the School Board at its March meeting with a virtual recognition.
CCSD Elementary Schools Winner: Bonnie Schroeder, supportive instruction paraprofessional for Sixes Elementary School
Ms. Schroeder, who has 21 years of service with CCSD, including 12 years in her current role, is known for the exceptional care she provides to the students she serves.
“Ms. Schroeder loves a challenge,” Principal Dr. Ashley Kennerly shared in her school’s nomination letter. “As we know, all students have different obstacles that they face. Ms. Schroeder seeks out students who are experiencing difficult times, and she builds a relationship with them. Many parents have asked personally for Ms. Schroeder to work with their child. The community has faith in her due to her long-standing dedication and high rapport with students and families.”
This school year, Ms. Schroeder experienced her own challenge: the tragic loss of her husband in a car crash. Despite her own grief, Ms. Schroeder stayed focus on her students and colleagues and how she could support them – even though the school community was focused on helping her. “The love poured out on her and her family in food and cards and assistance and prayers and gifts and so many other ways was indeed a powerful testament to this community, but also to the impact Bonnie had made on countless lives.”
CCSD Middle School/High School/Centers Winner: David McMickens, custodian for CCSD Preschool Centers’ Ralph Bunche Center in Canton
David McMickens has 36 years of service with CCSD, all in the same role as custodian for the Ralph Bunche Center. He has been part of the school’s family for even longer than that impressive tenure, as he attended the school himself as a child.
“David is a pillar of the Ralph Bunche community!” Principal Debbie Ritter said in the Centers’ nomination letter. “Because David has a long history and tie to the campus, pride in ownership is evident. Ralph Bunche has the most immaculately kept grounds and that is because David sees the school as an extension of his own home. In addition to the wonderful work that David does daily, his interpersonal relationships with both students and staff are immeasurable.”
An example of this focus on relationships: he know the name of every student, who all see “Mr. David” as their friend. “He will stand in the hallway, patient and smiling, while he accepts countless greetings and high-fives from our adoring preschoolers,” the nomination letter continued. “His kind and warm demeanor makes him safe and approachable to even our most timid students. Often, ‘Hi, Mr. David!’ is the first verbal greeting our new talkers will learn.”
CCSD Central Office Winner: Belinda Leach, clerk for CCSD Office of Technology & Information Services.
“While she has been an instrumental part of our team for many years, there are no words to adequately describe her commitment and performance since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring,” Chief Information Officer Bobby Blount shared in his division’s nomination letter. “To say that she went above and beyond for her team is simply an understatement.”
Ms. Leach, who has 13 years of service with CCSD, including seven in her current role, was praised especially for her work to ensure students and staff had access to technology last spring when schools were closed but teaching and learning continued online.
“While others were sheltering in place, she was at the office every day and helped take charge of new processes to facilitate the support for our teachers and students,” the nomination letter continued. “We created a Temporary Repair Center in our Training Building. After rotating some of our staff through the front desk to manage the customer traffic, Belinda took on the role of managing all incoming repair appointments. She helped schedule several hundred teachers to get new laptops while schools were closed. She even learned technical skills to help deploy software or erase hard drives.”
2021 CCSD Support Staff Employees of the Year
ACE Academy: Pam Cheever, Special Education Paraprofessional
Arnold Mill Elementary School: Betty Miller, School Nurse
Avery Elementary School: Taylor Johnson, Paraprofessional
Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy: Julie Fowler, Student Records Facilitator
Bascomb Elementary School: Shawn Lisle, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Boston Elementary School: Darlene Gaddis, Head Custodian
Carmel Elementary School: Simone Alsup, Student Records Facilitator
CCSD Preschool Centers: David McMickens, Ralph Bunche Center Custodian
Cherokee High School: Jenn Bradley, Attendance Secretary
Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy: Joy Harrison, School Nurse
Clayton Elementary School: Whitney Lofton, School Nurse
Creekland Middle School: Sunny Rae Harike, Receptionist
Creekview High School: Cindi Blevins, School Secretary
Dean Rusk Middle School: Lisa Burns, Instructional Lead Strategist
E.T. Booth Middle School: Becky Price, Student Records Facilitator
Etowah High School: Cathy Alexander, School Nurse
Free Home Elementary School: Amy George, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Freedom Middle School: Amanda Hoffman, Student Records Facilitator
Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Joanna Campos, Principal’s Secretary
Hickory Flat Elementary School: April Simmons, Student Records Facilitator
Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy: Gladys Stubbs, School Secretary
Indian Knoll Elementary School: Maria Hicks, School Nurse
Johnston Elementary School: Travis Colkitt, Custodian
Knox Elementary School STEM Academy: Allison Rhodes, School Nurse
Liberty Elementary School: Irinda Lundeen, Special Education Paraprofessional
Little River Elementary School: Annette Fountain, School Nurse
Macedonia Elementary School: Susan Grant, School Nurse
Mill Creek Middle School: Lynnette Greene, Student Records Facilitator
Mountain Road Elementary School: Melanie Parrott, Secretary
Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Sandra Fox, Custodian
R.M. Moore Elementary School STEM Academy: Nora Vizuete, Parent Engagement Facilitator
River Ridge High School: Cali Mondello, Attendance Secretary
Sequoyah High School: Erin Krantz, School Nurse
Sixes Elementary School: Bonnie Schroeder, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Teasley Middle School: Kathy Thomas, School Nurse
Tippens Education Center: Kortney Dempsey, Special Education Facilitator
Woodstock Elementary School: Ana Vescio, Front Office Clerk
Woodstock High School: Terry Vorobel, Secretary to the Athletic Director
Woodstock Middle School: Renee McClelland, Student Records Facilitator
CCSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction: Dawn Welch, Administrative Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer
CCSD Office of Financial Management: Vicki Holroyd, Executive Director Secretary
CCSD Office of Human Resources: Vicki Ross, Employee Benefits Specialist
CCSD Office of Safety & Security: Robert Williams, Emergency Communications Facilitator
CCSD Office of School Operations: Sue Hotaling, Executive Director’s Secretary
CCSD Office of School Operations – Transportation Department: John Chadwick, Vehicle Zone Foreman
CCSD Office of Support Services: Carla Cornelison, Secretary to the Director of Facility Maintenance
CCSD Office of Technology & Information Services: Belinda Leach, Clerk