Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Brian Hightower surprised Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Owen with his Superintendent’s 2019 Game Changer Award for Instructional Leadership during a meeting of senior staff Wednesday.

“Very few school districts can be reassured in knowing their CFO actually understands curriculum, but if you know Ken, you know he began his career in that office working in grants,” Hightower said, as he presented Owen with the award. “He supports curriculum and instruction and, ultimately, he knows where we should be fighting for critical funds to be spent – and that’s in the classroom. We’re very fortunate to have Ken: he gets it, he leads, and we’re so proud he’s a part of our organization.”

Owen, who was appointed to his current role in 2014, brings more than 30 years in accounting and finance to the role, including previous experience as CCSD’s director of grants accounting, internal audits and budgets and director of grants management, as well as serving as financial aid director for Reinhardt and Piedmont Colleges.

Hightower, during the award presentation, made specific note of Owen’s dedication to supporting instructional excellence outside of his CFO role by volunteering as a judge and helper at CCSD academic competitions and by serving on community boards, including the Cherokee County Educational Foundation and the Waste Management CCSD Scholarship Committee.

“This is certainly a highlight of my career,” Owen said after accepting the award, noting he felt both honored and “shocked” given the caliber of his colleagues also eligible for the award. “I have so many great teammates, and we all work together to do the best we can for our kids.”

The Instructional Leadership honor, which is awarded to a CCSD principal or administrator, is one of the four categories of the third annual Game Changer Awards Hightower describes as CCSD’s “premier awards.”

The presentation follows the surprise announcements last month of E.T. Booth Middle School teacher Amy Loiselle as the Game Changer for Instructional Excellence, and Joy Silk, CCSD’s Supervisor of Digital Learning, as the Game Changer for Instructional Support. The one remaining 2019 Game Changer Awards, is for Instructional Advocacy, which recognizes an employee or community member, and will be presented later this spring.

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