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CCSD Teacher Wins National Award Recognizing Inspiring Educators

Posted On: Thursday, June 25, 2020

Keith Furstenberg

A Cherokee County School District teacher has won a national award recognizing inspiring educators!

Free Home Elementary School teacher Keith Furstenberg is the Georgia winner of the national Sanford Teacher Award, which includes a $10,000 prize.  He now advances to be considered for the National title and a $50,000 prize.  The awards program is sponsored by Sanford Programs, which was established through a gift from philanthropist and businessman Mr. T. Denny Sanford.

“Inspiring is a character trait every educator hopes to hear along with their name,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “I’m incredibly proud of Keith for this award and its recognition of the care he has for each of the students he serves, as well as his colleagues and his school community.  Congratulations!” 

The winners – one from each state in the U.S. and one from Washington, D.C. – were selected from a pool of nominees based on Sanford Programs’ five key traits of an inspiring educator: Reflects on Teacher Practice to Maximize Student Engagement; Builds Student Confidence and Student Resiliency; Creates an Inclusive, Respectful Learning Environment; Maximizes Assessment Results for Student Growth and Motivates Students to Succeed; Sets High Expectations while Promoting Student Choice and Student Voice.

Sanford Programs shared a portion of the nomination for each winner, and this is what was shared about Mr. Furstenberg: “Innovative.  Passionate.  Creative.  These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of Mr. Furstenberg.  He knows each child’s name, has high expectations for his students and instills a confidence about learning within each child.  He cares about the kids and they know it.”

Mr. Furstenberg, or as many Free Home Rockets know him: Coach Furstenberg, teachers PE at the school and is its 2019 Teacher of the Year.  In addition to teaching outstanding lessons, he also has developed two before-school fitness programs – the Free Home Running Club and Tennis Time – and lead the school’s Green Team student environmental and recycling club.

He joined Free Home three years ago, but is a veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience teaching PE, art and special education.  He also earned Teacher of the Year honors from a previous school and was twice named Forsyth County’s Environmental Educator of the Year.

Principal Kim Hagood said she is very proud of and excited for Mr. Furstenberg, adding “Free Home is so fortunate to have him on the team!”


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