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Board Briefs: School Board Hears Update on Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

Board Briefs: School Board Hears Update on Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

The School Board, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower and Service League of Cherokee County leaders recognize the winners of CCSD’s first-ever Anti-Vaping Student PSA Video Contest: overall winner Chloe Feibus, a seventh-grader at Creekland Middle School; and runner-up Casten Augustine, an eighth-grader at E.T. Booth Middle School. Not pictured: runner-up Alicia Mazzurra, a senior at River Ridge High School.

NOTE: A gallery of photos from the meeting is online here. [CONTENT_REVIEW InternalLink]

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019 heard an update on CCSD’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) initiative, including projects underway to increase counseling services and create a “parent university” program for providing parents more information to help their children’s safety and well-being.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who lobbied for a strong focus on SEL efforts to improve the lives of students and employees, said the initiative “is moving like it’s strapped to a rocket” due to its important mission.  He asked Dr. Debra Murdock, who is heading the mission up, to debrief the School Board, and her full report is online here.

She highlighted several accomplishments so far, including the start of a pilot program at six CCSD schools to reduce non-counseling duties for school counselors “to prioritize counseling services and support for students exhibiting signs of mental health issues, self-harm, or suicide ideation.” 

Another significant lift in progress is the development of a “Parent University,” in collaboration with the CCSD School Police Department, Cherokee County Council of PTA and Highland Rivers Health.  These free programs for parents will be presented at every high school, and open to the entire community, with a focus on what parents can do to support their child’s well-being and safety.   

Dr. Murdock also shared that a committee has been formed to begin the development in January of a “redemption practices” system through which students can reduce the disciplinary actions they face by completing positive behavior requirements.

“We’ve really been ‘all in’ as it relates to these efforts,” Dr. Hightower said.

The School Board also received an update on work by the Office of Curriculum & Instruction to develop a “Profile of a Future Ready Graduate,” which is a snapshot of the skills and qualities CCSD wants to instill in all students by the time they graduate.  The six key traits of the Profile, which is online here, are: Thinker, Communicator, Contributor, Learner, Collaborator and Leader.   

The School Board on Thursday unanimously approved its 2020 Legislative Partnership Priorities, which is posted online here.  This list, which the School Board develops and publishes annually, makes clear its stand on education issues anticipated to come up for a vote before the State Legislature.

As legislation proposed in the last session carries over to the 2020 session beginning in January, the issues strongly opposed by the School Board that likely will come back up include: using State tax dollars for private school and home school vouchers, and reducing Teacher Retirement System benefits for future educators.

As part of its approval of the monthly human resources report, the School Board accepted the retirement announcement of Randy Evans, who has served as CCSD’s supervisor of maintenance since 2004, and retires with 27 years of school maintenance experience. 

A Past President Georgia School Plant Maintenance Association, Mr. Evans leads a 40-person team, and many of them attended the meeting to congratulate him and stood, along with the entire audience, to applaud his service. 

The School Board, as part of the human resources agenda item, also approved two leadership appointments: Lisa Rich as assistant principal at Dean Rusk Middle School, and Trey Moores as director of maintenance. 

Ms. Rich, a CCSD graduate who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, has served with the District for the last nine years including as a paraprofessional, special education teacher and instructional lead strategist. 

Mr. Moores, a Harvard University graduate with 23 years of construction project manager experience, has worked on numerous large projects including construction of Mercedes Benz Stadium, remodeling Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport gate modernization.     

Dr. Hightower, during his announcements, also shared news he learned that morning: the School Board earned the Georgia School Boards Association’s inaugural Leading Edge Award for its VILLA program.  The School Board will accept the award at GSBA’s annual conference in December.

The School Board also:

• Heard School Board member Patsy Jordan's recognition of Free Home ES for its recently held successful 100th anniversary celebration, and watched a video about the school’s history;

• Congratulated CCSD School Nutrition Director Tina Staff and her staff on their successful competition of the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition audit;

• Announced the winners of CCSD’s first-ever Anti-Vaping Student PSA Video Contest: overall winner Chloe Feibus, a seventh-grader at Creekland Middle School; and runners-up Alicia Mazzurra, a senior at River Ridge High School, and Casten Augustine, an eighth-grader at E.T. Booth Middle School.  Chloe received a $500 Visa card sponsored by the Service League of Cherokee County, and Alicia and Casten each received $100 Amazon gift cards, sponsored by CCSD Partners.  Their winning videos are posted on the CCSD YouTube Channel here;

• Recognized River Ridge High School senior Callie Goins and junior Maya Osborne for achieving perfect ACT scores;

• Recognized E.T. Booth Middle School Assistant Principal Kathie Monti as the 2020 Georgia Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year;

• Recognized CCSD Teacher of the Year Barry Dalton of Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy;

• Recognized Georgia High School Association State and Regional Champions: Sequoyah HS Volleyball;

• Recognized CCSD staff who earned Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA) Publication Awards;

• Recognized CCSD VILLA Program Class of 2019 participants upon their graduation from the annual parent academy program;

• Approved the renewal of partnership agreements with March of Dimes and Northside Hospital Cherokee;

• Approved the monthly financial reports;

• Approved out-of-state travel and out-of-state and overnight field trips;

• Approved the monthly capital outlay projects report; and,

• Approved special lease agreements.

Next meeting: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.