CCSD GaDER Award Winners

L-R - Mike Warner, Associate Director of Fleet Maintenance, Rick Grisham, Executive Director of Transportation and William Cook, EPD Environmental Engineer and Manager of the GaDER Program

Cobb County Schools was honored last month at the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation’s (GAPT) 50th Annual Conference & Trade Show at Jekyll Island, when the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) presented Cobb County Schools with the GaDER Gold Award.

The GaDER Gold Award is awarded to school systems that have reduced emissions in 26-74% of their school bus fleet through: Early Replacement, Installation of Emissions Control Equipment and/or the Use of Alternative Fuels. Rick Grisham, Executive Director of Transportation and Mike Warner, Associate Director of Fleet Maintenance, Cobb County School System accepted the award.

EPD representatives attended this year’s GAPT Conference to present the Georgia Diesel Emissions Reduction (GaDER) Awards to school systems who reduced diesel emissions pollution in school bus fleets.  Emissions reductions are achieved through the early replacement of older buses, the use of alternative fuels, or by installing emissions control devices on the buses. The GADER School Bus Program assists Georgia school systems by offering grants, technical assistance and education. You can learn more about the GaDER Program by visiting

William Cook, EPD Environmental Engineer and Manager of the GaDER Program says, “Older diesel buses emit a high amount of particles in the exhaust.  New buses and those that have been retrofitted with diesel particulate filters reduce these particulates by more than 85%, which results in a significant improvement in the air quality inside and around the school bus.   Transportation Directors and their staff who receive a GaDER award should be celebrated for their hard work and dedication to ensure that school children are riding in the safest and cleanest buses available.”

GAPT is a professional organization comprised of school transportation associates throughout the State of Georgia whose vision statement is as follows:  “GAPT will serve as the leading resource for pupil transportation professionals in the State of Georgia and inspire a culture of continuous improvement.” The organization’s mission statement has become their focus: “GAPT will build capacity in pupil transportation professionals by providing information, promoting innovation and serving as an advocate for those professionals while they partner with their community to meet the needs of their students.” This year’s conference celebrated the organization’s 50th year.

Cobb Mentoring Matters (CMM), Cobb County School District’s flagship school-based mentoring program, celebrated the conclusion of their 2nd year of operation at Laurel Park in Marietta.  As part of an ongoing effort to meet the standards of best practices for mentoring, the event brought together Mentors, their Mentee, and family members for a day of fun, games and fellowship.  Training and support is one of the key elements in developing and nurturing the match relationship. This event was an effort to show our appreciation and recognize the mentors for their contributions to the students in the Cobb County School District.

Approximately 90 mentors and mentee’s participated in the festivities which allowed family members and parents the opportunity to talk and share experiences with their child’s mentor. CMM provided Certified Trainer and Success Coach Larry Lipman ( to facilitate an exciting morning filled with activities for the purpose of building relationships, handling change, developing trust and so much more.

The highlight of the day was announcing “The Mentor of the Year” presented to Gary Fader. Mr. Fader will be entering his 3rd year with the program. A retired Nuclear Engineer, father and grandfather, he has given so much of himself to his 10 yr. old mentee Neil and to the program. He has provided inspiration not only to his mentee but also to the sustainability of CMM.

In addition, CMM announced Aaron’s Inc. as the Corporate Champion for the 2013-2014 school year. Aaron’s generous contribution enabled CMM to build the program’s capacity for the upcoming year. In the fall,  Aaron’s will demonstrate their continued support by placing counter top displays in a number of their retail locations in Cobb County to assist with recruitment of additional mentors in our schools.

CMM was able to place matches in 51 schools. Next year we hope to increase those numbers, as we ask our schools to help with recruiting staff, family members and friends to give one hour a week to one student for one year.  Mentoring Works!

Mentors and Mentees

Mentors and Mentees

"Mentor of the Year" Gary Fader and his mentee Neil

"Mentor of the Year" Gary Fader and his mentee Neil

Teaching as a Profession (TAP) Program Coordinator, Casey Roberts, would like to introduce you to Kearstin Martin and Kristen Stoll. Both are 2009 graduates of North Cobb High School who completed the TAP Program, and are true success stories!

Kearstin Martin

Kearstin Martin, First year Reading Teacher,

Griffin Middle School December Teacher of the Month

“The most difficult challenge I’ve faced this year has been differentiating for more than 14 levels of understanding. My students’ lexile scores are so diverse and scattered across the spectrum that I have had to put in a lot of extra effort to reach all of them. The North Cobb High School TAP Program prepared me far beyond any other program that I have participated in. Early exposure to the “real-life experience of being a teacher” ensured that I would develop concrete values and strategies to enhance my teaching. A lot of the core values that I developed in TAP, I still carry with me in my classroom today.  I am currently enrolled in a Master’s Program in Instructional Technology. I plan to continue my education and possibly move into Higher Education to pursue my personal interest in Sociology.”


Kristen Stoll

Kristen Stoll, First Year Social Studies Teacher

Smith Middle School October Teacher of the Month

“Smitha is a Title I school located in Marietta, GA. The students I work with are culturally and economically diverse. Many of the students I teach can be difficult behaviorally, but it is important to get to know each individual student personally. Through my relationships with my students, I have been able to create a better classroom environment focused on more respect for each other.  The TAP program helped me in various ways. It helped me get a better understanding of where I wanted to go with teaching. I learned from my experience in the program how to deal with some of the MANY jobs that come with being an educator. TAP helped me to gain a better grasp about the career path I wanted, helping me to focus on what I wanted and getting it done. I have several plans for the future. I would love to remain teaching at Smitha for several more years. I enjoy working with my students because I feel their pride when they get a good grade or accomplish a goal. Administration is also a goal I have in my future, but I honestly feel happy and proud to be where I am.”

Debbie Randazzo, Director of Internal Compliance for the CCSD Financial Services division, received the 2014 Pinnacle Award from the International Association of School Business Officials (ASBO).

The ASBO International Pinnacle Awards were established to recognize outstanding practices and new ideas that result in significant contributions to school entities or the profession of school business management. This is a very important achievement in that this award recognizes innovation in the area of school finance.

Ms. Randazzo successfully coordinated the implementation of the Financial Services University last year to provide an online financial tool for Principals and Administrators to utilize. The Financial Services University provides easy access to financial procedures, processes and training and is accessed from the main school district website. During the year, this university was presented to the Board and school district leadership and has received positive input from district staff and other financial organizations throughout the State of Georgia.

Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson said, “Very few individuals receive this award and we are very proud of Ms. Randazzo and the detailed accounting work that she performs on a consistent, daily basis.”

Ms. Randazzo will officially receive the honor and a award check for $1,000 during the 2014 ASBO conference this fall in Orlando, FL.

More than 7,000 seniors from Cobb County’s 16 high schools will receive their diplomas and turn their tassels during commencement ceremonies Wednesday, May 21 through Saturday, May 24. The following Class of 2014 graduates were named Valedictorians or Salutatorians for having the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) of their respective senior classes.


Allatoona – Valedictorian
Kimberlyn Nicole Hughes
University of Georgia


Allatoona – Salutatorian
Kendall Clarey Adams Uvena
University of Georgia


Allatoona – Salutatorian
Samantha Rose Stammen
Georgia Institute of Technology


Campbell – Valedictorian
Sharon Wanting Shu
Columbia University


Campbell – Salutatorian
Rachel Ann Kelley
University of Georgia


Campbell – Salutatorian
Micah James Hayden
U.S. Air Force Academy


Harrison – Valedictorian
Evan Taylor Mercer
Vanderbilt University


Harrison – Salutatorian
Zackery Daniel Bowles
University of Georgia


Hillgrove – Valedictorian
Caelan Edward Radford
Georgia Institute of Technology


Hillgrove – Salutatorian
Sydney Anne Nelson
Georgia Institute of Technology


Kell – Valedictorian
Alana Rae Archer
University of Southern California


Kell – Salutatorian
Miriam Settle
Brigham Young University


Kennesaw Mtn – Valedictorian
Melissa Rachel Downey
University of Georgia

Nedvidek_Kennesaw Mountain HS

Kennesaw Mtn – Salutatorian
Alexander John Nedvidek
Wake Forest University


Kennesaw Mtn – Salutatorian
Brexton HC Pham
Stanford University


Kennesaw Mtn – Salutatorian
Ryan Quinn Sheehan
Georgia Institute of Technology


Lassiter – Valedictorian
Savanah Lynn Jackle
University of Georgia


Lassiter – Valedictorian
Talia Laine DeBenedictis
Georgia Institute of Technology


Lassiter – Valedictorian
Adrienne Grace Alderman
Vanderbilt University


Lassiter – Salutatorian
Nicholas James Lindell
University of Georgia


McEachern – Valedictorian
Amy Phung Dao
Emory U. or U. of Georgia


McEachern – Valedictorian
Christopher James Norrell
Georgia Institute of Technology


McEachern – Salutatorian
Kirsten Alexis Allen
University of Georgia


North Cobb – Valedictorian
Mary Francis McDaniel
Georgia Institute of Technology


North Cobb – Salutatorian
Jeel Shwetang Oza
University of Delaware


Osborne – Valedictorian
Modupe Ibidunni Aiyeola
University of Southern California


Osborne – Salutatorian
Raquel Henriquez
Kennesaw State University


Pebblebrook – Valedictorian
Carlos Armando Escobar


Pebblebrook – Salutatorian
Isatta Feika
University of North Carolina


Pope – Valedictorian
Eric Yue Gu
Georgia Institute of Technology


Pope- Salutatorian
Ian James Van Buskirk
Minerva University

Hassen_South Cobb

South Cobb – Valedictorian
Hassan Yassin Hassen
Dartmouth College

Hutchins_South Cobb

South Cobb – Salutatorian
Ciera Carolyn Hutchins
University of Georgia


Sprayberry – Valedictorian
Farran Morgan Bush
Georgia Institute of Technology


Sprayberry – Valedictorian
Aduraseyi Christopher Ayeni
University of Georgia


Sprayberry – Salutatorian
Christine Thao Mi Nguyen
Georgia Institute of Technology


Walton – Valedictorian
Edward Soonjae Park
M.I.T. (Massachusetts)


Walton – Salutatorian
Udai Baisiwala
Stanford University


Wheeler – Valedictorian
Anirudh Kumar Udutha
Dartmouth College

Yuanhan Pan_Wheeler

Wheeler – Salutatorian
Yuanhan Pan
Georgia Institute of Technology


Wheeler – Salutatorian
Jason Peng
University of Pennsylvania

The Cobb County School District is offering the public an opportunity to review textbooks and materials being considered for use in AP French, AP Spanish and Statistical Reasoning. These materials will be available for public review May 22 – June 5, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the following schools:

Wheeler High School
Kennesaw Mountain High School
Walton High School
Pebblebrook High School

For kids, summertime should mean food, friends and fun. But for kids who rely on school meals for their primary nutrition, summer can be a time of uncertainty about where and when they’ll have access to healthy food. Free, healthy meals are available to kids and teens at thousands of sites across the country.

To learn more go to or call 1-866-3HUNGRY, or to find a site near you text FOOD to 877-877.


Graduating twelfth graders attending the Oakwood Digital Academy presented their senior projects Tuesday, May 13th in the program’s media center. Most students opted to create PowerPoint presentations which explained their future goals and how they planned on achieving them. Students also had to create a resume and a cover letter, complete a job application, submit a college application, and obtain three letters of reference as part of their senior projects.

During the 2013-2014 school year, 107 Cobb County students completed their graduation requirements through the Oakwood Digital Academy, a support program offering an alternative, blended instructional model for students.  The program conducted a recognition ceremony for these students was held Friday, May 16, 2014 at the Oakwood campus, during which speeches were made by students, staff members, and administrators.


The District’s Library Media department has launched a book drive May 12 – June 27 to support the summer lunch program conducted by MUST Ministries. Thousands of Cobb County children receive lunch from MUST Ministries during each summer weekday. In addition, the program promotes literacy by giving each child a book on Fridays. The CCSD book drive will help support MUST and promote participation in the summer reading programs underway at Cobb County and Smyrna public libraries.

Cobb residents may donate new or gently used books for grades K-12 at the MUST Ministries Cobb County office, or at any of the following Cobb County schools or offices:

Bells Ferry Elementary
Belmont Hills Elementary
Big Shanty Elementary
Clarkdale Elementary
Harrison High
Hollydale Elementary
Kennesaw Mountain High
Lindley 6th Grade Academy
Palmer Middle
Sedalia Park Elementary

Click here to download and print a flyer for the Book Drive (PDF).

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