School police deputization

Maj. Buster Cushing, right, talks with School Police Chief Mark Kissel and Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds. The school police department officers were deputized by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in 2017. Cushing was just named to replace Kissel as chief of the school’s police department.

CANTON — The Cherokee County School Board has appointed its new chief of school police, Maj. Buster Cushing, who is currently commander of field operations at the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.

Cushing takes the role effective July 1, succeeding Chief Mark Kissel, who has served as the department’s leader since it was established 20 years ago.

“Major Cushing is just the right leader to continue to legacy of excellent service by Chief Kissel,” said Superintendent Brian Hightower in a statement. “His experience, education, reputation and commitment to our community will serve our school district and community well as he takes on this incredibly important role in our organization.”

Cushing’s past roles with the sheriff’s office over the past 22 years also have included commander of criminal investigations, lieutenant of internal affairs, narcotics agent supervisor, SWAT Team leader, crime suppression team leader and uniform patrol shift commander, after beginning his career as a deputy for one year in Early County. During his tenure with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, he has earned three commendation awards.

The incoming chief is a graduate of CCSD’s Volunteer Instructional Leadership Learning Academy parent academy and has won the Guardian of Ethics Award from the Rotary Club of Canton, for which he serves as sergeant-at-arms, and the Cristal Stancil Leadership Award from the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

Cushing earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Georgia, and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State College. He was not present for Thursday’s board meeting to be officially introduced as the new chief, as he currently is studying at the FBI National Academy.

He and his wife, Christy, have a daughter, Preslie, and son, Sadler, who both are students at Creekview High School.

The district has also filled most of its administrative positions with the appointment of new and transferring assistant principals for next school year, after filling principal positions last month.

Twelve candidates are either new to the assistant principal position or new to the school district, and were recognized by Superintendent Brian Hightower at the school board meeting Thursday:

At Avery Elementary School, Amanda Schoeniger, currently a special education facilitator at Carmel Elementary School and Clayton Elementary School;

At Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy, Lee Davis, a teacher on special assignment at the school;

At Hasty Elementary School, Sandi Harrison, an instructional lead strategist at Ball Ground Elementary School and R.M. Moore Elementary School;

At Indian Knoll Elementary School, Angela Martin, a teacher on special assignment at Clayton Elementary School;

At R.M. Moore Elementary School, Adam Parker, a special education facilitator;

At Oak Grove Elementary School, Ashley Polito, an academic facilitator at Clark Creek Elementary School;

At Freedom Middle School, Dana Townsend, a teacher at Mill Creek Middle School and the district’s current Teacher of the Year;

At Woodstock Middle School, Pam Estes, the instructional lead strategist at Carmel Elementary;

At Creekview High School, Caroline Miley, an assistant principal at Centennial High School in Fulton County;

At River Ridge High School, David Dyer, a teacher at Fannin County High School;

At Sequoyah High School, Peter Vajda, an administrative assistant at Cambridge High School in Fulton County,

At Woodstock High School, Joel Roth, an instructional lead strategist at River Ridge.

Other administrators transferring to serve as assistant principals at new schools include Jennifer Johnson and Abbey Philpot at Arnold Mill Elementary School, Pam Green at Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, Christy Bowling at Liberty Elementary School, Scott Townsend at Dean Rusk Middle School, Leigh Gutierez at Mill Creek and Angela Moody at Ralph Bunche Center.

Also at the meeting:

The school board recognized Romeo Lorenzo, a fifth-grader at Johnston Elementary School, for heroism and extraordinary service to others for how he assisted and calmed his classmates when their school bus was rear-ended by another driver;

The board recognized Kelly Gilstrap, a Mountain Road kindergarten teacher, one of only two teachers in the U.S. invited by the International Center for Leadership in Education to present at its 27th Annual Model Schools Conference in Washington, D.C. in June;

The board approved a new partnership agreement with East West Bank that provides a $2,500 scholarship each year to one outstanding CCSD graduating high school senior, beginning this year with a Class of 2019 Cherokee High School graduating senior.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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