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Chelsea Leming, a fifth grade teacher at Indian Knoll Elementary School, is the 2021 Cherokee County School District Teacher of the Year.

A teacher from Indian Knoll Elementary School is the Cherokee County School District Teacher of the year.

The district named Chelsea Leming, a fifth grade Indian Knoll teacher, the CCSD Teacher of the Year at its annual Legacy Makers banquet Thursday night, the district announced in a news release. The district also recognized all its school-level Teachers of the Year and the four finalists for the district winner.

The banquet, usually held in the fall, was delayed this year due to the pandemic. Safety measures at the banquet at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center in Canton included limiting the number of guests.

“This evening is so special to me and our School Board, as we celebrate our most extraordinary teachers, especially this year of all years,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said Thursday. “In times of uncertainty, they have been a source of security and stability to the students and families of Cherokee County. They have adapted to all that was asked of them this past year, while maintaining the success of our students, and we are grateful.”

Hightower opened an envelope at the event’s conclusion to announce Leming as the 2021 CCSD Teacher of the Year.

“Chelsea is a visionary who puts so much care into teaching and making connections,” Hightower said, noting her leadership in promoting social and emotional learning programs at her school. “She makes me proud to serve as her Superintendent.”

Leming, who is in her 12th year as an educator, will advance as CCSD’s nominee for the Georgia 2022-23 Teacher of the Year competition.

“I’ve never been more proud of my profession,” she said upon receiving the award, adding that she, like Hightower said in his remarks, sees teachers as “front-line heroes.” “It is my absolute honor to represent this army of courageous, passionate, hard-working teachers who represent the #CCSDfam.”

Sponsors for the event included presenting sponsors: Cherokee County Educational Foundation, Credit Union of Georgia, Northside Hospital Cherokee and Shottenkirk Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram of Canton.

Leming will receive a free one-year lease of the vehicle of her choice from Shottenkirk, dealership general manager David Booth announced. Leming told him she plans to drive a Jeep Wrangler like in the movie “Clueless.”

The three other finalists, who received additional gifts and recognition at the event, are: Cherokee High School theatre teacher Dr. Jodi Burn, E.T. Booth Middle School sixth-grade social studies teacher Cathy Fernandez, and Boston Elementary School fourth-grade digital learning teacher Brenna Lloyd.

The finalists and CCSD Teacher of the Year are selected by a panel of community leaders who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year; school winners are selected by their peers.

The finalists, in addition gift cards and other prizes given to all school Teachers of the Year, also each received: a $500 Visa gift card; $100 gift cards and $50 gift baskets from Kroger; $100 from Grace Ed Technologies (GET) LLC; $50 from AngelTrax; $50 from Professional Association of Georgia Educators; and other gifts.

Leming, in addition to these gifts, also received:

♦ A $1,399 Microsoft Surface Duo (128 GB) from Southern Computer Warehouse;

♦ A $1,000 Visa gift card purchased with donations from sponsors;

♦ A $275 Day Spa Package from Practically Perfect Day Spa;

♦ A $200 gift card and a gift basket from Kroger;

♦ A $200 Amazon gift card from Ecolab; and,

♦ A compact laser printer and $50 Visa gift card from Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

School Board Chair Kyla Cromer congratulated and thanked the honorees on behalf of the board. She quoted poet Amanda Gorman: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

“Thank you to each and every one of you for being brave enough to see it and brave enough to be it – to the 42,000 students we serve in this District,” she said. “There is a lot of light in this room tonight.”

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Shannon Ballew is the managing editor at the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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