CCSD Connections

A Monthly Parent Newsletter - July 2019

Superintendent's Message

We know there's still more summer to enjoy, but wanted to go ahead and share some news to help kick your new school year off right.

Here are the headlines, but for more please click the image above for First Day Facts, a two-page round-up of back-to-school news.

  • Walk-Throughs & Open Houses begin July 27.
  • The first day of school is Thursday, Aug. 1.
  • The Back-to-School Gateway for online first-day forms opens Wednesday, July 24.
  • The tardy bell for elementary schools will ring at 7:35 a.m. (instead of 7:40).
  • Tougher repercussions are in place for students possessing vaping devices or oils.
  • Schools will be using Canvas for school-wide emails and text messages instead of Aspen and Remind 101. Please follow these directions to ensure your contact information is in Canvas and your notifications are turned on, so you will continue to receive school-wide messages. CCSD will continue to use School Messenger for emergency notifications and District-wide messages.
  • Parents of first- and second-graders will receive more information in their child’s backpack on the first day about our new standards-based report cards that better explain each child’s progress. A factsheet is online here.

Be on the lookout the first week of school for the Class Act magazine in your child's backpack. Thanks to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News and Cherokee Life Magazine, we're able to share more CCSD news with you through this new magazine.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer break and look forward to seeing you and your children soon (please tag your first-day photos with #CCSD1stDay)!


Dr. Brian V. Hightower

Superintendent of Schools



How Cherokee Country School District Teachers Use Minecraft: Education Edition in K-12 Classrooms

CCSD Students Mining for Life Lessons

CCSD is one of 20 school districts worldwide selected for Microsoft’s Minecraft Adoption Program to implement the educational version of the game, through which students create, innovate and collaborate in the Minecraft world while learning and developing problem-solving skills. As a result of CCSD’s successful pilot use of Minecraft: Education Edition and how it’s spread to classrooms at all levels, Microsoft, which owns Minecraft, featured CCSD in a series of videos it’s sharing worldwide... including this "case study" video.


New Roles for Four CCSD Leaders

Clockwise from top left: Dr. Debra Murdock, Dr. Mark Merges, Dr. Richie Carnes and Dr. Sue Zinkil.

The Cherokee County School Board on Thursday appointed a longtime CCSD leader to head up the new Social and Emotional Learning initiative, as well as several resulting Principal changes.

Dr. Debra Murdock, the former Principal of Cherokee High School and Georgia High School Principal of the Year, who most recently has served as the School Operations’ executive director overseeing middle and high schools, will take on the newly created role focused on developing new ways to better support students’ and employees’ emotional and mental health and well-being.

“Debbie grew up here, raised her own family here, and loves every child in our schools as if they’re all her own,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “She taught hundreds of students before advancing to serve as an assistant principal and then Principal and then CCSD leader -- and every time she was promoted, we heard complaints from the students and families who didn’t want her to leave them. In this new role, she will be focused again on our students and how we can better care for them.”

This appointment is the first step in adopting recommendations of the Superintendent’s new Ad Hoc Committee studying Social and Emotional Learning. The Committee of teachers, administrators and school counselors, nurses and psychologists developed numerous recommendations to improve supports for students and staff, which Dr. Hightower has committed to phasing in for CCSD.

"The national attention placed on Social and Emotional Learning is deserved," Dr. Murdock said. "As educators, parents, and community members, we are keenly aware that many students and staff need additional resources and support in order to optimize their success potential. I am honored to be entrusted by the Superintendent and School Board to coordinate our District’s efforts regarding the health, happiness, and wellness of our students and staff. More importantly, I am proud of our District for prioritizing the needs of our students and staff in this way!”

As a result of Dr. Murdock’s appointment, Creekview High School Principal Dr. Mark Merges has been appointed to serve in her former role as the School Operations’ Executive Director of Administrative Leadership for middle and high schools. A 25-year educator, Dr. Merges has led Creekview HS since 2016, earning recognition as a finalist for Georgia High School Principal of the Year, and previously served as an assistant principal at Sequoyah HS and Dean Rusk MS.

The Creekview High School Principal post will be filled by longtime educator Dr. Sue Zinkil, who most recently has served as Principal of neighboring Creekland Middle School. She previously led Teasley MS as its Principal, which she opened on its new campus and where she was named Georgia’s Middle School Principal of the Year.

Dr. Richie Carnes, who most recently served as assistant principal at Mill Creek Middle School, will lead Creekland Middle School as its new Principal. He brings 25 years of experience as an educator to the role, including as an assistant principal at Carmel ES and Indian Knoll ES and as a teacher at Cherokee HS.




Please check your school’s website and social media for school event information.

July 27-31: Various times and dates, All CCSD Schools, Walk-Though/Open House events.

Aug. 1: First Day of School

Aug. 10: 8 a.m., Etowah River Park in Canton, Chick-fil-A Moo’ve It 5K fundraiser for the Cherokee County Educational Foundation and Cherokee County Special Olympics.

Aug. 15: 7 p.m., School Board Auditorium at Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility, Cherokee County School Board Meeting.

Aug. 16: 7:30 p.m., High school varsity football season kicks off with scrimmages followed by first regular games on Aug. 23. Click here for the full schedule.

Sept. 2: Labor Day; all CCSD schools and offices closed.




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