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CCSD Celebrates Outstanding and Retiring Leaders

Posted On: Wednesday, May 4, 2022

CCSD GameChanger Dr Nicole Holmes 5 4 22

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, presents the 2020-21 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Dr. Nicole Holmes, CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer, for her many outstanding efforts over the past year, but especially her role as the lead for preparing for CCSD’s recent successful renewal of its accreditation and the achievement of the school district’s highest ever accreditation score.  The presentation was made in front of her colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

The Cherokee County School District this week celebrated two district award-winning administrators and recognized retiring district and school leaders.

The recognitions were made during the school year’s final monthly Principals’ meeting, which was attended by all CCSD school principals and district leadership staff, as well as by School Board Chair Kyla Cromer.  The meeting included breakfast and lunch, which were sponsored by CCSD partners Credit Union of Georgia and First Baptist Church of Woodstock.  

GAME CHANGER AWARDS
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, as part of the meeting, presented two Superintendent’s Game Changer Awards, which he gives annually to recognize instructional excellence.  Four awards are presented each year: Instructional Excellence to a classroom teacher, Instructional Leadership to a school or district leader, Instructional Support, to an employee who serves in a support staff role, and Instructional Advocacy to a non-CCSD employee.

Dr. Hightower presented both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 awards for Instructional Leadership.  He had postponed presentation of the majority of the 2020-21 awards due to the pandemic’s impact on operations.  The remaining awards will be presented later this spring.

The 2021-22 award was presented to Dr. Nicole Holmes, a longtime CCSD teacher and past Principal of Liberty ES who now serves as CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer, overseeing curriculum, instruction, Special Education and staff and professional development among her numerous roles.  

Dr. Hightower praised Dr. Holmes for her many outstanding efforts over the past year, but especially her role as the lead for preparing for CCSD’s recent successful renewal of its accreditation and the achievement of the school district’s highest ever accreditation score.

“She knocked it right out the park,” Dr. Hightower said of CCSD’s accreditation renewal preparation.  “The reviewed called us back and said they were so impressed with the system she used to organize our data and documentation that they want to use us as a model for other districts across the nation.”

The 2020-21 award was presented to Andy Hall, a longtime CCSD teacher and past River Ridge HS assistant principal who now serves as Principal for i-Grad Virtual Academy, CCSD’s new permanent online learning choice.  It opened last year for Grades 9-12, and next school year will expand to Grades 4-12.  

Next school year, Principal Hall’s role will expand to leadership of the ACTIVE Academies campus, which also includes ACE Academy, CCSD’s daytime alternative high school; Transition Academy, a vocational and life skills program for young adults with special needs who recently completed high school; and the Cherokee College & Career Academy, which offers Career Pathway choices, like cybersecurity and next year’s aviation programs, in addition to the numerous choices at CCSD’s six traditional high schools.

“You know what it takes to create something from nothing, and that was his charge,” Dr. Hightower said of Principal Hall’s success in opening i-Grad.  “We appreciate his energy and the skill he brings to the game.”

The room of educators gave each of the Game Changers a standing ovation and followed suit when retirees were recognized.  

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, presents the 2020-21 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Andy Hall in recognition of his work as Principal for i-Grad Virtual Academy, CCSD’s new permanent online learning choice.  It opened last year for Grades 9-12, and next school year will expand to Grades 4-12.  The presentation was made in front of his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, presents the 2020-21 Superintendent’s Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership to Andy Hall in recognition of his work as Principal for i-Grad Virtual Academy, CCSD’s new permanent online learning choice.  It opened last year for Grades 9-12, and next school year will expand to Grades 4-12.  The presentation was made in front of his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

RETIRING DISTRICT AND SCHOOL LEADERS
Three retiring school district leaders were recognized: Chief Support Services Officer Bill Sebring and Professional and Staff Development Supervisor Jackie Miller, who both are retiring at the end of the school year; and Office of Human Resources Executive Director Dr. Adrian Thomason, who retired earlier this school year.  Two retiring Principals were recognized: Liberty ES Principal Doug Knott and ACE Academy Principal Dr. Richard Landolt, who both are retiring at the end of the school year.

“We are all writing a story,” Dr. Hightower said, as he thanked the retiring educators for their service.  “There are so many people who are interwoven in our story, and it’s a privilege to have served with these folks.  Thank you!”

Each of the retiring leaders was invited to share a few words after they were thanked and presented with a plaque.  

Mr. Sebring, a 35-year educator and administrator, began his career as a teacher in Florida, joining CCSD in 1989 as a Special Education and PE teacher and coach at Sequoyah High School.  He advanced to serve as an assistant principal and athletic director at Woodstock High School, and in 1999 began his tenure as Principal of Cherokee High School.  Mr. Sebring began leading Woodstock High School as its Principal in 2006, and started his current district role in 2013.  

“We all make a difference and that’s what its all about to me,” said Mr. Sebring, who looks forward to spending more time with his two grandsons.

Dr. Thomason began his career in Cobb County as a classroom teacher before serving for 28 years with CCSD as a teacher, assistant principal, and Principal at Dean Rusk Middle School and at Creekview High School before being appointed CCSD’s executive director for middle school and high school certified staffing in 2016.

“It was an honor to serve with people and to see what we could do together,” said Dr. Thomason, who has been enjoying retirement with his family including wife, Lori, a retired teacher.  “It was always ‘we got you’ no matter what it was, and ‘Let’s get you to the finish line.’  It was a privilege and honor to serve, and thank you.”

Ms. Miller has served as an educator for 32 years and among her many successes, she implemented numerous highly regarded professional development programs for CCSD, presented at national and international education conferences and served on four Cognia accreditation review teams as an expert in assessing other school districts.

“Thank you for all the fun we’ve had, all the growth we’ve had, all the change that we’ve been together for,” she said, thanking the group also for the positive impact they had on her children during their time as CCSD students.  “You’re doing it all for the right reasons – you’re doing it for the students, and they’re the beneficiaries for all of your work.” 

A 32-year educator, Principal Knott taught and led for 29 of those years in CCSD including as a teacher and coach, for which he earned a school Teacher of the Year award; assistant principal for Mountain Road ES; and Principal for Ball Ground ES (nine years) and Liberty ES (eight years).  His many accolades have included leading Liberty to State and National School of Character awards in recognition of its focus on character education and service learning.  

“It’s been the calling and it’s been such an honor to go through it with a team like you guys,” he said.  “Just remember: balance it.  It’s not just the whole child, it’s the whole adult, too.  Take care of those we’ve been charged with leading, so they can take care of the whole child.”

Mr. Landolt’s 35-year career includes more than 32 years with CCSD as an award-winning Principal, with service at Woodstock MS; Polaris Evening School, for which he led the school’s initial accreditation efforts; and ACE Academy, for which he led the transformation from CrossRoads.  

“I went kicking and screaming into administration, but I realized very soon, as effective as a classroom teacher as you can be, there are other opportunities in education where you can touch the lives of more students,” he said, noting he plans to continue to be involved in CCSD as his grandchildren make their way through their education.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, listens as Chief Support Services Officer Bill Sebring speaks to his colleagues.  Mr. Sebring, who is retiring at the end of the school year after a 35-year career in education, was recognized by his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, listens as Chief Support Services Officer Bill Sebring speaks to his colleagues.  Mr. Sebring, who is retiring at the end of the school year after a 35-year career in education, was recognized by his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

CCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes, left, congratulates Professional and Staff Development Supervisor Jackie Miller, who is retiring at the end of the school year after a 32-year career in education, was recognized by her colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

CCSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Holmes, left, congratulates Professional and Staff Development Supervisor Jackie Miller, who is retiring at the end of the school year after a 32-year career in education, was recognized by her colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

CCSD Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu, left, congratulates Dr. Adrian Thomason, CCSD’s executive director for middle school and high school certified staffing who retired earlier this school year after a 28-year career CCSD, which he joined after first teaching in Cobb.  He was recognized by his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

Above: CCSD Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu, left, congratulates Dr. Adrian Thomason, CCSD’s executive director for middle school and high school certified staffing who retired earlier this school year after a 28-year career CCSD, which he joined after first teaching in Cobb.  He was recognized by his colleagues at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year. Below: Dr. Thomason laughs during a tribute to him.

Dr. Adrian Thomason, who retired earlier this year as CCSD’s executive director for middle school and high school certified staffing, laughs during a tribute to him at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during the meeting.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, congratulates Liberty ES Principal Doug Knott, who is retiring at the end of this school year after a 32-year career in education.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, congratulates Liberty ES Principal Doug Knott, who is retiring at the end of this school year after a 32-year career in education.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, congratulates ACE Academy Principal Richard Landolt, who is retiring at the end of this school year after a 35-year career in education.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.

Above: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower, right, congratulates ACE Academy Principal Richard Landolt, who is retiring at the end of this school year after a 35-year career in education.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year. Below: Principal Landolt listens during a tribute to him at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.
ACE Academy Principal Richard Landolt, who is retiring at the end of this school year after a 35-year career in education, listens during a tribute to him at this week’s final Principals’ meeting of the school year.  He and other retiring school and district leaders were honored by their colleagues during the meeting.

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