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2018 Superintendent's Game Changer Awards

Last Updated: 3/18/2019 2:39 PM

2018 Game Changer Awards

Please watch this brief video celebrating the 2018 honorees!

Instructional Leadership: Dr. Lisa Turner, Principal of Avery Elementary School

game change turner

Dr. Hightower presents the first 2018 Game Changer Award of the year to Avery Elementary School Principal Dr. Lisa Turner.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower today presented the first of his annual awards for instructional excellence!

The surprise presentation of a “Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award” was made to Avery Elementary School Principal Dr. Lisa Turner before a room full of her fellow Principals and District leaders.

“She is a young leader, but already an inspiration to others,” Dr. Hightower said of Dr. Turner, who is in her third year as Principal at Avery ES.

Dr. Turner thanks Dr. Hightower for the award and praises her colleagues in her remarks.

He praised her courage and work ethic, noting her willingness to partner with the Office of Curriculum & Instruction and the Office of School Operations on pilot programs to improve teaching and learning.

“She exhibits strong instructional leadership, and is very deserving of this honor, which I consider my premier award,” Dr. Hightower said.

Dr. Turner was recognized for Instructional Leadership – one of the four categories of the “Game Changer Awards” that Dr. Hightower began last school year and are presented annually in the spring.

The other categories, for which one award each will be presented later this month, will recognize a classroom teacher for Instructional Excellence, an employee with a support role for Instructional Support and an employee or community member for Instructional Advocacy.

Dr. Turner, who received a standing ovation from her colleagues, said she was overwhelmed by the honor.

“It’s about the people we serve,” Dr. Turner said as to what drives her commitment to instructional excellence. “I hope I can be all that you want me to be and the leadership that Cherokee County expects. I’ve been all over the country, and I’ve never seen leadership like I’ve seen in Cherokee. It’s such a privilege to serve.”

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turner surprise

Dr. Turner, left, is surprised by the honor, as colleagues including Bascomb ES Principal Kathleen Chandler cheer and then stood for a standing ovation.

 

Instructional Excellence: Kelly Burke, Woodstock HS AP Physics teacher

Burke surprise

The crowd of colleagues rises to applaud Ms. Burke as she makes her way to the front of the auditorium.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has surprised the third 2018 winner of his annual awards for instructional excellence!

Dr. Hightower presented a “Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award” for Instructional Excellence to Woodstock High School Advanced Placement (AP) Physics teacher Kelly Burke during the school’s faculty meeting, which erupted in cheers and a standing ovation for the longtime and celebrated educator.

“You know her career, you know her history and how much she truly cares about her job and the kids,” Dr. Hightower said of Ms. Burke, who among her many honors, is a past Cherokee County School District Teacher of the Year and Top 10 Finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year and the current Cherokee County STAR Teacher.  “It takes a lot of commitment, dedication and smarts to do what Kelly does.”

Dr. Hightower and Kelly Burke

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower honors Woodstock High School teacher Kelly Burke with a 2018 Game Changer Award for Instructional Excellence.

The Instructional Excellence honor, which is awarded to a classroom teacher, is one of the four categories of the “Game Changer Awards” that Dr. Hightower began last school year presenting annually in the spring and which he describes as CCSD’s “premier awards.”

The other categories are: Instructional Leadership, which recognizes a Principal or CCSD administrator and was presented last week to Avery ES Principal Dr. Lisa Turner; Instructional Advocacy, which recognizes an employee or community member and was presented last week to School Board Chair Kyla Cromer; and Instructional Support, which recognizes an employee with a support role and is still to be presented.

Ms. Burke, who is retiring at the end of the this school year, thanked her Woodstock High colleagues for their many years of support; she has taught at the school since it opened in 1996.

“It’s overwhelming!” she said of the surprise honor, which some of her family was brought in to witness.  “We have so many outstanding educators, K-12, in our system!  How do you choose just one for this?  I am deeply honored… it’s an indescribable feeling.”

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Instructional Support: Dr. Julie Dutko, Instructional Lead Strategist, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy

Dr. hightower surprises Dr. Julie Dutko

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Holly Springs ES STEM Academy instructional lead strategist Dr. Julie Dutko with his Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award for Instructional Support.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has presented his final award of the year for instructional excellence!

Dr. Hightower surprised Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy instructional lead strategist Dr. Julie Dutko with his Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award for Instructional Support during a meeting Tuesday with her colleagues, who cheered her on as she accepted the honor.

“This particular award is given to an employee who is not an everyday classroom teacher, but someone who supports teaching and learning every day,” Dr. Hightower said as he recognized Dr. Dutko, who earlier this spring was tapped to serve as an Assistant Principal next school year at Teasley Middle School. “She did a great job as an academic coach and a classroom teacher, and, this year, as an instructional lead strategist. We believe in the job you’ve done!”

Dutko surprise

Ms. Dutko reacts as she hears Dr. Hightower name her as the award winner, as her colleagues cheer.

The Instructional Support honor, which is awarded to an employee with a support role, is one of the four categories of the annual awards Dr. Hightower began last school year and describes as CCSD’s “premier awards.” Dr. Dutko is an instructional lead strategist, or ILS, a teaching coach position that provides classroom teachers assistance in creating lessons, meeting curriculum standards and implementing new initiatives, such as the Balanced Literacy approach to reading in the primary grades.

“I was completely taken back when Dr. Hightower called my name, as I looked around the room at all of the ‘real game changers,’” she said to her colleagues upon accepting the award. “I am so proud of all that Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy teachers have accomplished this year. These are your game changers, right here. I’m extremely honored to have even been considered, yet alone chosen, for this award.”

The three other Game Changer Awards are: Instructional Leadership, which recognizes a Principal or CCSD administrator and was presented to Avery ES Principal Dr. Lisa Turner; Instructional Advocacy, which recognizes an employee or community member and was presented to School Board Chair Kyla Cromer; and Instructional Excellence, which recognizes a classroom teacher and was presented to Woodstock HS teacher Kelly Burke.

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Instructional Advocacy: Kyla Cromer, School Board Chair

 

kyla surprise

Dr. Hightower presents Ms. Cromer with the 2018 Game Changer Award for Instructional Advocacy, as the audience rises for a standing ovation.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower on Thursday night surprised the second 2018 winner of his annual awards for instructional excellence!

Dr. Hightower presented a “Superintendent’s 2018 Game Changer Award” for Instructional Advocacy to School Board Chair Kyla Cromer during the Board’s regular meeting, which came to a halt as the audience rose for a standing ovation.

“She’s all in for public education,” Dr. Hightower said of Ms. Cromer, as her presented her with a special plaque and a bouquet of roses.

He praised Ms. Cromer, now in her fifth year on the School Board and her fourth year as its countywide-elected Chair, for treating the part-time role as a full-time passion. She not only leads Board meetings, but is a regular presence (and cheerleader) at CCSD and school events and celebrations, meets with Dr. Hightower and senior staff to stay informed of CCSD progress and education trends, advocates for CCSD and public education at the State level and is ever willing to listen to her community. A former classroom teacher and longtime PTA leader, Ms. Cromer is known and respected for her understanding of best instructional practices and support for continuous improvement of the teaching profession.

Ms. Cromer listens as Dr. Hightower praises her service.

“The kids, if they could see it all, would be amazed by her advocacy. She gives for them,” Dr. Hightower said. “We’re so proud of her leadership.”

Ms. Cromer won the Instructional Advocacy award, which can be earned by a CCSD employee of community member. It’s one of the four categories of the “Game Changer Awards” that Dr. Hightower began last school year presenting annually in the spring and which he describes as CCSD’s “premier awards.”

The other categories are: Instructional Leadership, which recognizes a Principal or CCSD administrator, and earlier this week was presented to Avery ES Principal Dr. Lisa Turner; Instructional Excellence for a classroom teacher; and Instructional Support for an employee with a support role.

Ms. Cromer, who said she was surprised and honored by the award, thanked CCSD’s students and employees for their dedication and successes and thanked her fellow School Board members for their support.

“I work with the best Board in the State of Georgia and maybe the nation,” Ms. Cromer said. “I’m proud to represent you.”

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