Four members of Cherokee County School District’s Department of Special Education received top honors during the district’s annual Special Education Staff of the Year Awards ceremony.
The four award winners are: CCSD Occupational Therapist/Physical Therapist of the Year Amy Peart; CCSD School Psychologist of the Year Laura Killen; CCSD Special Education Facilitator of the Year Kortney Dempsey; and CCSD Speech Language Pathologist of the Year Stacy Irwin.
“We know that our students overcome obstacles and make progress thanks to the dedication and care of these honorees and their fellow Special Education colleagues,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement. “We’re so proud of you and grateful for all you do to support our students and their families. Congratulations!”
Peart joined the Cherokee school system from Cobb County School District in 2015. She provides occupational therapy services to students with fine motor and sensory needs and has served students at CCSD schools including Carmel Elementary School, Boston Elementary School, and Woodstock Middle School. A colleague said she provides “amazing therapy and classroom support,” but most importantly, she shows that she cares deeply about all students.
Killen has served CCSD for 11 years, with seven of those years as school psychologist. She has worked with students and teachers at Dean Rusk Middle School, Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy, Macedonia Elementary School, Mountain Road Elementary School and Woodstock Middle School, and additionally has acted as the Innovation Zone psychologist contact for the Creekview Zone for the past two years. She “truly cares for each student and the parents and teachers working to help and support them,” according to a colleague.
Dempsey began her education career with CCSD in 2006. She taught special education students for eight years at Woodstock High School, where she was also the head softball coach. For the past eight years, she has served as a special education facilitator at numerous schools, including Tippens Education Center where she earned its 2020-21 Support Staff Employee of the Year Award. Dempsey will work as a CCSD Special Education lead facilitator starting next school year. A colleague described her as someone they work to be like: “knowledgeable, professional and models a meeting well even in difficult situations.”
Irwin started her career with CCSD in 1999 but later relocated, and rejoined the district in 2016 when her family returned to the community. She has provided speech language services to students with communication needs at Liberty Elementary School, Teasley Middle School and Cherokee High School. Irwin also provides speech language pathology coaching and mentoring to colleagues. One of her mentees said Irwin “always makes us feel supported, loved, and encouraged,” and “keeps us organized and never fails to check in with all of us.”
Each winner received an engraved plaque and a $200 Visa gift card from Credit Union of Georgia. The school board and Hightower will honor the winners with a virtual recognition during the board’s meeting Thursday.