CCSD Celebrates Teachers of the Year at Legacy Makers Banquet
Beginning on Nov. 9, 2018, each week we'll be adding a profile and photo of a school-level winner here!
CCSD Teacher of the Year Dana Towsend of Mill Creek MS gets a hug from her dad, James Tanner, as the announcement is made she's the overall winner.
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The Cherokee County School District honored extraordinary educators with a dinner, tributes and gifts at the 2018 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration on Thursday night... with a new twist: the surprise announcement of the CCSD Teacher of the Year at the event.
With the creation this year of a new Finalist level of recognition, also came the decision to make the announcement of the overall winner a surprise at the dinner, and Mill Creek Middle School PE and health teacher Dana Townsend received the exciting news at the end of the program!
“Dana is an inspiring teacher and coach,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said of Ms. Townsend, who as CCSD’s Teacher of the Year now will represent the School District in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition. “What’s even more impressive, to me, is the care she shows for each student. This care is so great that, this school year, she developed a program to ensure every child at Mill Creek has a mentor. We’re so proud of you, Dana.”
A 22-year educator, Ms. Townsend uses her experience teaching reading, writing, science and social studies to expand upon traditional PE and health class coursework and collaborate with colleagues. Among her many other roles at the school, Ms. Townsend this school year began a mentor program to ensure students feel supported and have a caring adult to turn to in times of need.
“Every student deserves a community that supports their physical, mental and emotional health,” said Ms. Townsend, who has earned specialist and master’s degrees from Brenau University. “To be a teacher is to have the daily opportunity to change lives. It’s really a blessing to be able to do this every day.”
Principal Matthew May said Ms. Townsend’s dedication and enthusiasm puts her in a class of her own.
“Ms. Townsend is adored by her students, respected by her peers, and appreciated by her administration,” he said. “She is a positive example for students and teachers. She is an outstanding teacher and a deserving candidate for Teacher of the Year.”
The Legacy Makers event, held at the Cherokee County Conference Center, and the long list of gifts presented to the honorees all were made possible thanks to the generosity of sponsor donations including Presenting Sponsors: Cherokee County Educational Foundation, Credit Union of Georgia, Northside Hospital Cherokee and Shottenkirk Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram of Canton.
Dr. Hightower and the School Board recognized Ms. Townsend and the three other Finalists and all school-level Teacher of the Year winners during the event, which also was attended by the guest of their choice and their Principals. The Finalists and CCSD Teacher of the Year are selected by a panel of community leaders who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year; school winners are selected by their peers.
“Renowned educator Robert Marzano said: ‘The teacher is the single most important factor in improving student outcomes.’ I agree, which is why this evening is so special to me and our School Board, as we celebrate our most extraordinary teachers,” Dr. Hightower said.
The three other Finalists, who received additional gifts and recognition at the event, are: Tabatha Box, math teacher at Etowah High School; Jama McCartney, art teacher at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy; and Karen Reynolds, first-grade teacher at Little River Elementary School.
All school Teacher of the Year winners each received a $175 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors; a $100 restaurant gift certificate from Shottenkirk; a portrait by Lifetouch National Schools Studio; an engraved plaque; and a tote bag filled with supplies and gifts.
The finalists, in addition to these gifts, also each received: a $500 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors; a $250 Best Buy gift card from Imaan International; $100 gift card and $50 gift basket from Kroger; a $50 Visa gift card from the Professional Association of Georgia Educators; and a $25 Panera Bread gift card donated by zSpace. The finalists also each were provided with a table at the dinner, so they could bring additional family members or other guests.
Ms. Townsend, in addition to these gifts, also received:
• A one-year lease of the vehicle of her choice from Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton;
• A $1,000 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors;
• A laptop from Southern Computer Warehouse;
• A $250 Best Buy gift card from Imaan International;
• A $200 gift card and a gift basket from Kroger;
• A $100 Amazon gift card from Follett;
• A Compact Laser printer and $50 Visa gift card from the Professional Association of Georgia Educators;
• A Google Home Hub and Home Mini smart speaker, both with Google Assistant, from CommScope; and,
• A $25 Panera Bread gift card from zSpace.
Sponsors who made all of the gifts possible are:
• Presenting Sponsors: Cherokee County Educational Foundation, Credit Union of Georgia, Northside Hospital Cherokee and Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton;
• Gold sponsors: Emtec, Guaranteed Gutters, Hewlett Packard, Kroger, Lifetouch National Schools Studios, Poole’s Insulation and Southern Computer Warehouse;
• Silver sponsors: Cherokee Education Association, Clifford Chester Concrete, Kajeet, NearPod, Path & Post Real Estate, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, zSpace; and,
• Bronze sponsors: AngelTrax, Chick-fil-A of Canton, Cobb EMC, Commscope, Follett, NOVA Engineering & Environmental, and Roly Poly of Woodstock.
“Without the support of these sponsors, we would not be able to show our outstanding educators how much our community appreciates their service,” Dr. Hightower said. “We’re so grateful to our sponsors for helping make this event extra special for our Teachers of the Year.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower tells the audience about CCSD Teacher of the Year Dana Townsend of Mill Creek MS after announcing her win of the overall honor.
CCSD Teacher of the Year Dana Towsend of Mill Creek MS is surprised with the announcement she won the overall honor.
CCSD Teacher of the Year Dana Townsend of Mill Creek MS speaks to the audience at the Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration.
CCSD Surprises Four CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalists!
NOTE: More photos are posted in a gallery here, and videos are posted on our CCSD Facebook page!
The Cherokee County School District began a new tradition today by surprising four teachers with the news they are CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalists!
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower visited the four teachers’ classrooms to announce their selection, from the field of all CCSD schools’ and centers’ Teachers of the Year, to vie for the top honor.
“Our School District truly is defined by the quality of our teachers, both their classroom instruction and the culture they create as role models and leaders,” Dr. Hightower said. “With as many schools and teachers as we have, we certainly were ready to create another level of Teacher of the Year recognition. We’re so proud of these finalists; they’re not just great educators -- they’re great people.”
The finalists are: Tabatha Box, math teacher at Etowah High School; Jama McCartney, art teacher at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy; Karen Reynolds, first-grade teacher at Little River Elementary School; and Dana Townsend, PE teacher at Mill Creek Middle School.
The CCSD Teacher of the Year, who is one of these four finalists, will be announced during the Legacy Makers celebration ?on Thursday, Nov. 1. The CCSD winner will represent the School District in the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition. The Legacy Makers banquet, and the prizes to be awarded to all of the honorees, are made possible by presenting sponsors: Cherokee County Educational Foundation, Credit Union of Georgia, Northside Hospital Cherokee and Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton.
The four finalists – two from the pool of all elementary school-level winners and two from the group of middle, high and centers honorees – were selected by a committee of retired educators and community leaders. The finalist selection was based on teachers’ answers to questions about themselves and their views on teaching and education, and letters of recommendation from Principals, colleagues, students and parents.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower gives Etowah HS math teacher Tabatha Box a congratulatory hug after surprising her with the announcement that she is one of four finalists for CCSD Teacher of the Year.
Tabatha Box, Etowah High School Teacher of the Year
Tabatha Box loves teaching math, so much so that the way to her heart on Valentine’s Day was a gift of a skirt patterned with equations.
She was wearing this skirt today, as Dr. Hightower surprised her and an Etowah High School classroom full of Advanced Placement Calculus students.
The 11-year teacher said she was rendered speechless by the news she’s a CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalist, but her students were quick with praise.
“She’s not only really fun, but she really knows what she’s doing,” junior Jesse Sebring said. “She’s fair, and she helps us learn.”
Ms. Box, who teaches math classes ranging from geometry to AP Calculus, earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Kennesaw State University. She began teaching in 2007, joining CCSD in 2014.
She survived a very challenging childhood, and, as a college student fighting for custody and then raising her younger brother, Ms. Box found her calling to help children through teaching.
“I hope to inspire the desire to learn for the sake of learning, to be hard-working even when times are tough and stressful, and to respect and be kind to those around you,” she said. “These are core values I instill in my lessons day to day.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises Clark Creek ES STEM Academy art teacher Jama McCartney with the news that she is one of four finalists for CCSD Teacher of the Year, as Principal Joey Moss looks on.
Jama McCartney, Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy
As an art teacher, Jama McCartney teaches children to shape clay into pottery. Her colleagues say she’s just as gifted at shaping students into better people and her school into a better place.
“She loves what she does,” Principal Joey Moss told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, as he surprised Ms. McCartney and her students today with the news she’s a CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalist. “She bleeds and cries RedHawk Nation.”
A founding teacher at the school that opened seven years ago, Ms. McCartney over her 15-year teaching career has made crafting outstanding school climate a personal mission.
“I see the whole child,” said Ms. McCartney, who earned two bachelor of science degrees from Bowling Green State University and was honored as Teacher of the Year for Oak Grove Elementary School in 2009. “I believe my greatest accomplishment in education is providing a safe place for students to explore art, but, more importantly, feel loved and valued for who they are.”
Fourth-grader Kaiden Cribbs said she’s done just that.
“I love her,” Kaiden said, after giving Ms. McCartney a big congratulations hug. “She teaches me technique, she explains, and she encourages me.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower surprises first-grade teacher Karen Reynolds with the news that she is one of four District finalists for CCSD Teacher of the Year.
Karen Reynolds, Little River Elementary School
Every day is different in Karen Reynolds’ classroom at Little River Elementary School, and not just because she’s taught curious kindergartners, and now first-graders, for 24 years.
It’s different because Ms. Reynolds puts so much creativity and care in her lessons and classroom, which when Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower came to visit today had been transformed into a campsite. As he announced Ms. Reynolds is a CCSD Teacher of the Year finalist, children peeked out of a reading tent, and adjusted their plaid flannel shirts (she wore a matching one) for photos.
“I’m very honored,” Ms. Reynolds said, and then gestured to her students, “This is why I do what I do.”
Principal Karen Carl said she wishes her children had experienced a year in Ms. Reynolds’ class, adding that when she visits the classroom for an evaluation, she “never wants to leave.”
“Her classroom is like magic, and she is the magician,” Ms. Carl said of Ms. Reynolds, who earned her education degree at the University of Tennessee and also has taught in DeKalb and Marietta.
First-grader Kate Ham clasped her hands and beamed, as she watched the presentation. “She’s a good teacher.”
Mill Creek MS Teacher of the Year and now CCSD TOTY Finalist Dana Townsend gets congratulatory hugs from students Jaiden Boyd, left, and Syriah Conerly.
Dana Townsend, Mill Creek Middle School
Mill Creek Middle School’s gym is not just a place for physical and health education when teacher Dana Townsend starts class.
The 22-year educator uses her experience leading reading, writing, science and social studies classes to teach across the curriculum, developing creative lessons in collaboration with colleagues that can engage students with varied interests in PE activities.
If that were not impressive enough, she’s added counselor to her job description as well, culminating with the creation this school year of a mentor program to ensure all students feel supported. “Every student,” she said, “deserves a community that supports their physical, mental and emotional health.”
“You mean the world to me,” the 22-year educator, who holds specialist and master’s degrees from Brenau University, told a gym full of students today upon learning she’s a CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalist.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower shared in announcing the news that Ms. Townsend is one of his former middle school students, which made the presentation even more special.
Eighth-grader Syriah Conerly was not surprised by the honor.
“She’s so caring,” she said of Ms. Townsend. “She can be goofy, but when it’s time to get to work, she’s serious. It’s tough love.”
2019 CCSD Teachers of the Year
Read their profiles here!
ACE Academy: Pete Godfrey
Arnold Mill Elementary School: Brooke McMullen
Avery Elementary School: Bonnie Smith
Ball Ground ES STEM Academy: Lisa Nations
Bascomb Elementary School: Leslie Kreiger
Boston Elementary School: Lori Moore
Carmel Elementary School: Melanie Phillips
CCSD Preschool Centers: Lauren Garcia
Cherokee High School: Ben Sosebee
Clark Creek ES STEM Academy: Jama McCartney
Clayton Elementary School: Jane Jarrett
Creekland Middle School: Laura Brown
Creekview High School: Liana Howard
Dean Rusk Middle School: Bonnie Jackson
E.T. Booth Middle School: Kara Reeder
Etowah High School: Tabatha Box
Free Home Elementary School: Keith Furstenberg
Freedom Middle School: Kate Morris
Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy: Sarah Munroe
Hickory Flat Elementary School: Corinne Snow
Holly Springs ES STEM Academy: Sonja Chapman
Indian Knoll Elementary School: Patti Nations
Johnston Elementary School: Brittany Stalling
Knox ES STEM Academy: Nicole Waldrep
Liberty Elementary School: Angie Nalls
Little River Elementary School: Karen Reynolds
Macedonia Elementary School: Leah Parrott
Mill Creek Middle School: Dana Townsend
Mountain Road Elementary School: Amy Kerwood
Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy: Amy McCravy
R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy: Alison Hughes
River Ridge High School: Katie Freeman
Sequoyah High School: Paul Peacock
Sixes Elementary School: LaTonya McGruder
Teasley Middle School: Nicholas Garcia
Tippens Education Center: April Popham
Woodstock Elementary School: Katie Grooms
Woodstock High School: Dr. Derek Engram
Woodstock Middle School: Heidi Switzer