Indian Knoll ES Principal Kim Cerasoli asks teachers to hold up their certificates for the school's national character education award as part of today’s celebration.
Indian Knoll Elementary School today celebrated earning its first national character education award!
The school has been honored with a Promising Practices Award by Character.org, a national nonprofit organization that promotes developing positive character among students. Indian Knoll is one of only 152 schools honored nationwide and one of only four in Georgia; Liberty Elementary School, a multi-year honoree, also was among those recognized.
Dr. Arthur Schwartz, president of Character.org, said the programs recognized “demonstrate significant impact and strongly align with the principles that help schools and organizations cultivate a culture of character.” Honored schools will be recognized at the organization’s National Forum in October.
Indian Knoll ES earned the honor for its “Core Values Cultivate a Culture of Caring” initiative, through which students completed various service learning projects. The school’s core values, which share the same initials as its name, are Individuality, Kindness, Excellence and Service. The school uses a “house” system to create six teams of students and teachers, each with a combination of grade levels, that work together on positive behavior and specific goals throughout the year. For the “Core Values Cultivate a Culture of Caring” initiative, each house developed its own service project last school year to focus on a community need.
The Eagles House “Brighten Your Day” project supported local senior citizens, while the Cardinals House “Morning Motivation” project developed daily and weekly schoolwide motivations and daily encouraging quotes. The Pelicans House adopted a “Garden Beautification” project that focused on maintaining the campus gardens and supplying community members with seeds from a school exchange. The Falcons House, through “Notes for Nurses,” showed appreciation for local healthcare workers, while the Owls House “Rescue Me” project helped the county animal shelter and the Hawks House “Hawks Help Others” project supported a local memory care facility. When pandemic restrictions impacted the ability for in-person visits, the students learned to use technology tools that would allow for continued interaction and service.
“Our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support teams worked hard to incorporate our motto of service into ‘service learning’ last year and the results were astounding!” Principal Kim Cerasoli said. Not only were the projects successful, but the initiative also created a “positive ripple” in the school’s culture and greater school community, with appreciative feedback from students and their parents, teachers and staff, and community partners.
The school’s teachers and staff celebrated the award today with a visit by Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County operator Kevin Williams, author of “Irrational Kindness,” who spoke about the power of purpose. The program, which was held on the first day back at work for teachers, is “the foundation for our continued work in promoting kindness, compassion and service to others not only within our school building, but extending into the Cherokee County community,” Principal Cerasoli said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, who participated in today’s celebration, said he’s proud to see Indian Knoll Elementary earn recognition for its hard work.
“Our Indian Knoll Firebirds have soared above and beyond to serve their community,” he said. “I’m grateful for the teachers, staff and administrators for investing their time and creativity in developing this opportunity for our students. We want every student to graduate with the knowledge that they can make a positive difference in their community and world – it’s inspiring to see our elementary students already learning this valuable lesson. Congratulations and thank you!”
Celebrating Indian Knoll Elementary School’s national character education award today are, from left to right, CCSD School Operations Executive Director Dr. Mark Merges, Administrator on Special Assignment Dr. Robert Shaw, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Indian Knoll ES Instructional Lead Strategist Lauren Abrams, CCSD Chief Operating Officer Dr. Debra Murdock, Principal Kim Cerasoli, Kevin Williams and Hayden Holcomb with Chick-fil-A, and Assistant Principals Jennifer Landry and Angela Archer. The school is one of only 152 in the country to win a Promising Practices Award from Character.org, a national nonprofit organization that promotes developing positive character among students.
Above and below: Indian Knoll ES teachers and staff celebrated their national character education award today with a visit by Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County operator Kevin Williams, author of “Irrational Kindness,” who spoke about the power of purpose.
Teachers applaud Williams' message of making a difference, having fun, and putting a little extra effort into each day.
Principal Kim Cerasoli introduces Williams, who brought a toolbox of prizes and inspiring props.