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2020 Teacher of the Year

Last Updated: 2/5/2021 1:55 PM

Beginning on Dec. 9, 2019, each week we'll be adding a profile and photo of a school-level winner here!

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Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy teacher Barry Dalton reacts to the surprise announcement at the 2020 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration that he is CCSD’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

More photos online here!

The Cherokee County School District rolled out the red carpet and shone the spotlight on superstar educators tonight at the 2020 Legacy Makers: CCSD Teachers of the Year Celebration.

Befitting the event’s Oscars-inspired theme, with the opening of an envelope … Barry Dalton of Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy was surprised with the news he is the CCSD Teacher of the Year! 

“Barry really impresses me with his dedication to the kids.  He was ‘all in’ with Social and Emotional Learning long before we started talking about it as a CCSD initiative,” Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “He teaches his kids grit and resiliency.  He shows them he cares about them, their success and, most importantly, their happiness.  Barry makes me proud to serve as his superintendent.”

Coach Dalton, who is in his 12th year as an educator and teaches health and PE at Hasty, will advance as CCSD’s nominee for the Georgia Teacher of the Year competition. 

In his remarks, Coach Dalton thanked his mother, Vickie Dalton, for her inspiration as an educator; his father, Edde; his wife, Heather; his current colleagues and his former colleagues at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy.

“I’ve recently learned about an Aristotle quote ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,’” he said. “I don’t believe students will truly learn in our classrooms until we have built the relationships and trust needed to make them feel comfortable.”

Principal Rodney Larrotta praised Coach Dalton for possessing a unique combination of extraordinary traits: “great teacher, fantastic coach, amazing instructional leader and a mentor.”

“I believe in superheroes,” Principal Larrotta said.  “Coach Dalton, you are a superhero.” 

The Legacy Makers event held at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center in Canton honored the Teacher of the Year for every CCSD school and four Finalists, including Coach Dalton, who was named the winner at the event’s close.  The dinner, 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.

New to the event this year, the Cherokee County Council of PTA set up a special welcome with a red carpet surrounded by parents and students who cheered on the Teachers of the Year as they arrived.

Dr. Hightower and the School Board recognized every Teacher of the Year during the event, which also was attended by the guest of each honoree’s 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.   

“As Robert Marzano said: You are the most important factor in improving student outcomes,” School Board Chair Kyla Cromer said during her remarks.  “That is the influence you have.  We are so proud of you.”

The three other Finalists, who received additional gifts and recognition at the event, are: Tracie Galvis of Cherokee High School, Karen Garland of Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, and Ansley Sand of River Ridge High School.

All school Teacher of the Year winners each received a $175 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors; a $50 restaurant gift certificate from Shottenkirk; a portrait by Lifetouch National Schools Studio; an engraved plaque; and a tote bag filled with supplies and gifts from sponsors. 

The finalists, in addition to these gifts, also each received: a $500 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors; $160 gift certificates from Practically Perfect Day Spa; $100 gift cards and $50 gift baskets from Kroger; $100 gift cards from Bojangles’; and other gifts.  The finalists also each were provided with a table at the dinner, so they could bring additional family members or other guests.

Mr. Dalton, in addition to these gifts, also received: 
• A one-year lease of the vehicle of his choice from Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Canton;
• A $1,500 Microsoft Surface 2 from Southern Computer Warehouse; 
• A $1,000 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors;
• A $275 Day Spa Package from Practically Perfect Day Spa;
• A $200 gift card and a gift basket from Kroger;
• A $200 gift card from Bojangles’;
• A compact laser printer and $50 Visa gift card from Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE);
• A $75 Amazon gift card from Canvas; 
• A Fitbit from Follett School Solutions; and more.

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: HP, Inc.; Imaan International Inc., Kroger, Lifetouch National Schools Studios, Poole’s Insulation, Practically Perfect Day Spa and Southern Computer Warehouse; 
• Silver sponsors: Bojangles’, Cherokee Education Association, Cherokee Lanes, Cobb EMC, Fforg, Inc.; NearPod, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Path & Post Real Estate, Walden University; and,
• Bronze sponsors: ACME Property Group, LLC; AMC Theatres, Canvas, Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County, ContentKeeper, DataON Storage, Follett School Solutions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NOVA Engineering & Environmental, Roly Poly of Woodstock and zSpace, Inc. 

“We’re so thankful for our sponsors and the PTA for making this event as special as our Teachers of the Year,” Dr. Hightower said.  “Their support speaks volumes about our community and how much we all care about teachers and the work they do to educate our emerging generation.” 

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CCSD Surprises Four CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalists!

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The Cherokee County School District today surprised four teachers with the news they are CCSD Teacher of the Year Finalists!

(For photos, see the gallery here)

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. 

“We’re so proud of our ‘Final Four,’” Dr. Hightower said, noting that the committee of retired educators and community leaders who make up the judging committee had a tough job in selecting them from a pool of CCSD’s finest.  “As I read their applications, what struck me was how they not only are excellent educators, but they also go above and beyond to show their students how much they care about them.”

The finalists are: Barry Dalton of Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy, Tracie Galvis of Cherokee High School, Karen Garland of Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, and Ansley Sand of River Ridge High School.

The CCSD Teacher of the Year, who is one of these four finalists, will be announced during the Legacy Makers celebration next month.  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.

Barry Dalton, Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy

Barry Dalton, Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy

Today was Coach Dalton’s first day back at work after the birth of his family’s new baby.

He received more of a welcome than expected, with the surprise presentation in his third-grade PE class by Dr. Hightower.

“He’s all in,” Dr. Hightower said to the gym filled with students, as he shared with them the many attributes that make their 12-year teacher a winner. 

Dr. Hightower noted that not only does Coach Dalton make sure his students learn about health and PE, he also works to develop their resiliency and “grit” -- both in gym class and through schoolwide positive behavior and mentoring programs he helps lead.

Third-grader Adam Strawser wasn’t surprised to see his teacher honored.

“He gives us a great education.  He keeps us healthy and strong,” he said.  “And he cares about us.”

Tracie Galvis, Cherokee High School

Tracie Galvis, Cherokee High School

Tracie Galvis was decked out in cowgirl gear today for the school’s homecoming dress-up day.

It shows in a visible way how much the seven-year teacher cares about connecting with her students, and that Warrior pride wins them over, as well as their parents and her fellow teachers.

Ms. Galvis teaches Algebra to students learning English as a second language and she also heads up the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department.  Her drive to relate to students comes from a desire to help them succeed and is fueling the school’s ESOL CHOICE program, a new intensive mentoring and support initiative to help students at higher risk of not graduating on time.

“We couldn’t do what we’re doing here without you,” Dr. Hightower said of her instrumental role.  “You always put kids first.”

Her students agree: “She’s amazing,” senior Manuela Restrepo said.  “She helps us with everything.”   

Karen Garland, Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy

Karen Garland, Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy

You never know what you’re going to find when you walk into Karen Garland’s science classroom.

Somedays it’s butterflies. Somedays it’s reptiles. Somedays it’s dozens of hands covered in dirt from gardening.

But every day, it’s smiles, lightbulbs and laughter.

“You make learning fun for the kids,” said Dr. Hightower, adding that he’s known Ms. Garland since she began teaching in CCSD seven years ago after a career as an environmental educator for the Chattahoochee Nature Center and Georgia Conservancy.   

As whispers of the news spread down the hall, one by one her fellow teachers snuck in to applaud their colleague, who’s described as a real-life Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame.

Students like Mide Thomas can’t wait to tell you about their favorite teacher.

“I love how she’s all about science,” the second-grader said with great excitement, “and she can always answer almost any question about science!”

Ansley Sand, River Ridge High School

Ansley Sand, River Ridge High School

Ansley Sand teaches classrooms filled with some of the brightest students in CCSD.

They aren’t easily impressed, but she’s won them over in her Advanced Placement history and psychology classes with her skills in relating lessons to their own lives and ensuring they know how much she cares about the latter.

“She cares deeply about the subject matter, but, most importantly, she cares about you,” Dr. Hightower told the class, as he shared the news of their teacher’s honor.

Principal Dr. Kerry Martin said Ms. Sand, who was a student at Woodstock High School while she was a teacher there, has grown into a model teacher who amazes everyone with her knowledge and dedication.

“Her classroom is student-centered,” Dr. Martin said, adding that often those students are out of their seats engaged in collaborative activities.

Sophomore Brooke Scepaniak was happy to see her teacher honored.

“She pushes us forward,” Brooke said.  “She does what’s best for us in class.”   

#CCSDfam

2020 CCSD Teachers of the Year

ACE Academy: Wesley Marshall
Arnold Mill Elementary School: Casey Wheeler
Avery Elementary School: David Boggs
Ball Ground ES STEM Academy: Kellie Henson
Bascomb Elementary School: Marsha Mattson
Boston Elementary School: Annie King
Carmel Elementary School: Dawn Mathis
CCSD Preschool Centers: Gabriela Guerrero
Cherokee High School: Tracie Galvis
Clark Creek ES STEM Academy: Karen Garland
Clayton Elementary School: Katherine Dobson
Creekland Middle School: Ana Cahill
Creekview High School: Jason Hubbard
Dean Rusk Middle School: Hannah Braswell
E.T. Booth Middle School: Heather Stone
Etowah High School: David Armistead
Free Home Elementary School: Alison Johnson
Freedom Middle School: Arlene Freeland
Hasty ES Fine Arts Academy: Barry Dalton
Hickory Flat Elementary School: Meleda Vacca
Holly Springs ES STEM Academy: Cynthia Rudin
Indian Knoll Elementary School: Darlene Palmisiano
Johnston Elementary School: Rachel Maddox
Knox ES STEM Academy: Kelly Sample
Liberty Elementary School: Jessica DeLuca
Little River Elementary School: Belinda Jackson
Macedonia Elementary School: Brooke Hopkins
Mill Creek Middle School: Wendy Perez
Mountain Road Elementary School: Kelly Gilstrap
Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy: Julie McNally
R.M. Moore ES STEM Academy: Jill Mossinger
River Ridge High School: Ansley Sand
Sequoyah High School: Tiffany Weck
Sixes Elementary School: Katie Blanchard
Teasley Middle School: Scott Reece
Tippens Education Center: Melinda Meadow
Woodstock Elementary School: Dillon Scott
Woodstock High School: Isobel Mason
Woodstock Middle School: Jefferson Doyle