Above: ACTIVE Academies School Nutrition worker Crystal Williams reacts at the ceremony Thursday evening upon being announced as the overall Middle School/High School/Centers Winner of the 2021-22 Cherokee County School District Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards. Below: Cherokee County School Board members and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower congratulates the overall winners of the 2021-22 Cherokee County School District Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards announced at a special ceremony on Thursday evening, from left to right: Dr. Hightower, School Board members Patsy Jordan and Kelly Poole, Central Office Winner - CCSD Special Education Executive Director Administrative Assistant Nilda Tippins, Middle School/High School/Centers Winner - ACTIVE Academies School Nutrition worker Crystal Williams, Elementary School Winner - Knox Elementary School STEM Academy kindergarten paraprofessional Carol Dunn, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer and School Board member Robert “Rick Steiner” Rechsteiner.
The Cherokee County School District celebrated the important role of support staff at its Fourth Annual Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards on Thursday evening.
The celebration honored one Support Staff Employee of the Year from each of CCSD’s schools, centers and central office divisions. Each of the honorees was recognized by the Superintendent of Schools and School Board members, received a plaque and gifts of appreciation including a $150 Visa card funded by sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor, the Cherokee County Educational Foundation, and Platinum Sponsor, Credit Union of Georgia.
At the conclusion of the evening, surprise presentations were made to one overall CCSD winner each in three categories: Elementary School to Knox Elementary School STEM Academy kindergarten paraprofessional Carol Dunn; Middle School/High School/Centers to ACTIVE Academies School Nutrition worker Crystal Williams; and Central Office to CCSD Special Education Executive Director Administrative Assistant Nilda Tippins. These overall winners were selected by a committee of retired educators and community leaders.
“Each one of you meets an important need to help us succeed as a school district,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said as he thanked the honorees. “Your work is important. You are important. We value you. What you do matters in the lives of kids.”
School Board Chair Kyla Cromer thanked the honorees on behalf of the School Board.
“You are the backbone of our District, and the work that you do each day supports, strengthens, and improves the learning and work environment for students and staff, alike,” she said. “You are invaluable to the success of our District, and we appreciate you!”
The three overall CCSD winners received a $300 Visa card funded by sponsors; $100 gift certificate from Practically Perfect Day Spa; $100 Gift certificate to a local restaurant given by Shottenkirk Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram; Birthday-in-a-Box from Nothing Bundt Cakes, valued at $75; $50 Gift card from Riverstone Corner Bistro; $50 Visa gift card from Cobb EMC; and gifts from Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County and Alma Coffee.
All winners received additional gifts from ABM Industries, LLC; Alma Coffee; Cherokee Lanes; Chick-fil-A of Cherokee County; Cobb EMC; Double V Restaurants, Inc., McDonald’s; HP Inc.; Northside Hospital Cherokee; Nothing Bundt Cakes; Practically Perfect Day Spa; Riverstone Corner Bistro; and Shottenkirk Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram.
As part of the presentation to the three overall winners, excerpts from the nomination forms were shared to give the audience of greater sense of their value to their school and community.
Every week, a different school or division Support Staff Employee of the Year winner will be featured on CCSD’s website and social media platforms. The winners also will be congratulated by the School Board at its December meeting.
Elementary School Winner: Knox Elementary School STEM Academy kindergarten paraprofessional Carol Dunn.
Ms. Dunn, who is retiring at the end of this school year, has 38 years of experience with CCSD, including 33 years in her current role.
“Ms. Dunn is the model of support to the classroom teacher in providing educational opportunities for each student. She is a kind spirit who is willing to complete any task to meet the needs of the students here at Knox. She is a smiling face who many continue to seek out throughout their elementary career and beyond. Students know her by name and often stop her in the hallways for a quick hug. Her love for working with students is contagious as she makes everyone’s day brighter.”
Middle School/High School/Centers Winner: ACTIVE Academies School Nutrition worker Crystal Williams
Ms. Williams has nine years of service with CCSD, all in the same role.
“What makes Crystal Williams such an outstanding employee is not only the knowledge, skills and techniques she brings to the kitchen as she prepares the meals for our students … it is the heart she brings and shares with the students who come through the service line every day for their meals. Her smiles, her words of encouragement, her nods of recognition, her understanding of what a student may be going through and knowing the students by name, is what reaches out to touch their hearts and lift their spirits. She represents all that is good at ACTIVE Academies.”
Central Office Winner: CCSD Special Education Executive Director Administrative Assistant Nilda Tippins.
Ms. Tippins, who is retiring at the end of this school year, has 15 years of service with CCSD, including eight years in her current role.
“Nilda Tippins provided top-notch support to the Department of Special Education. She is a highly-competent self-starter who is progressive, proactive and well-organized. She has always sought to learn as much as she could about the intricacies of special education to successfully address the needs of all stakeholders as quickly as possible. As a leader in her current position, Nilda seeks out opportunities to support her teammates in improving effectiveness, organization and efficiency. The Department of Special Education has thrived and become much more efficient due to her professionalism.”
School- and division-level honorees were selected by their colleagues, and everyone who works in a support role for CCSD is eligible for the honor. Teachers, counselors, media specialists and administrators are not eligible, as they are honored through other awards programs.
2021-22 CCSD Support Staff Employees of the Year
Crystal Williams, School Nutrition Worker
Arnold Mill Elementary School
Patti Eisenhauer, Kindergarten Paraprofessional
Avery Elementary School
Dedra Turner, Paraprofessional
Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy
Donna Mele, Principal's Secretary
Bascomb Elementary School
Linda Wilson, School Nutrition Worker
Boston Elementary School
Michelle Helvey, Paraprofessional
Carmel Elementary School
Yudy Soro, Parent Engagement Facilitator
CCSD Preschool Centers
Sara Lightcap, Speech Language Pathologist
Cherokee High School
Liz Garced, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director's Secretary
Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy
Tiffany Gilbert, Lead Custodian
Clayton Elementary School
Dan Wolfe, IEP Paraprofessional
Creekland Middle School
Maralee Tabor, Principal's Secretary
Creekview High School
Lisa Sheehan, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director's Secretary
Dean Rusk Middle School
Hector Solis, Custodian
E.T. Booth Middle School
Missy Venezia, Instructional Lead Strategist
Etowah High School
Penny Jones, Principal's Secretary
Free Home Elementary School
Amy Lathem, School Nutrition Manager
Freedom Middle School
Cassie Fainter, Instructional Lead Strategist
Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy
Christine Ruff, Kindergarten Paraprofessional
Hickory Flat Elementary School
Robert McCright, Lead Custodian
Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy
Kaitlyn Childers, Paraprofessional
Indian Knoll Elementary School
Lois Boggs, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Johnston Elementary School
Tammy Scanlon, IEP Paraprofessional
Knox Elementary School STEM Academy
Carol Dunn, Kindergarten Paraprofessional
Liberty Elementary School
Beth Major, Student Records Facilitator
Little River Elementary School
Melinda Belisle, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Macedonia Elementary School
Joan Watkins, Bookkeeper
Mill Creek Middle School
Johnny Gibson, Custodian
Mountain Road Elementary School
Dawn Patini, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy
Amy Zaski, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
R.M. Moore Elementary School STEM Academy
Jodi Henderson, Bookkeeper
River Ridge High School
Sara D'Antuono, Assistant Principal's Secretary
Sequoyah High School
Cindy Brown, Student Services Secretary
Sixes Elementary School
Teresa Foster, Paraprofessional
Teasley Middle School
Lori Duffy, Principal's Secretary
Tippens Education Center
Nikki Quinn, Paraprofessional
Woodstock Elementary School
Jennifer McInnis, Student Records Facilitator
Woodstock High School
Aura Castellanos, School Nutrition Worker and Custodian
Woodstock Middle School
Melissa Barsh, Supportive Instruction Paraprofessional
CCSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction
Nilda Tippins, Administrative Assistant to Executive Director, Special Education
CCSD Office of Financial Management
Tammie Hunter, Administrative Assistant to Chief Officer
CCSD Office of Human Resources
Mary Shea, Division Facilitator
CCSD Office of Safety & Security
Mary Hansen, Administrative Assistant to Chief Officer
CCSD Offices of Communications/School Operations/Superintendent
Anne Reed, Administrative Assistant to Chief Officers
CCSD Office of Support Services
Biff McGhee, Maintenance Facility Technician
CCSD Office of Technology & Information Services
Stefan Zimmerman, Systems Specialist
CCSD Transportation Department
David Ammons, Transportation Specialist
Above: Knox Elementary School STEM Academy kindergarten paraprofessional Carol Dunn, named the overall Elementary School Winner at the 2021-22 Cherokee County School District Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards, is congratulated by former colleague and longtime friend, School Board member Patsy Jordan, during the awards ceremony Thursday evening. Below: CCSD Special Education Executive Director Administrative Assistant Nilda Tippins reacts to the surprise announcement at the ceremony Thursday evening that she is the overall Central Office Winner of the 2021-22 Cherokee County School District Support Staff Employees of the Year Awards.