Gilmer Receives CCRPI Scores

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Charter School System has received results for 2017’s CCRPI. Releasing the following information, the schools have shown marked improvement in testing since last year.

The schools utilize this information when creating plans for next year as they see what areas need help and what areas have succeeded with current teaching methods.

These scores also indicate an above average scoring for most of the county’s schools, as well as an above average score overall for the district, which is an obvious improvement over years passed.

The following is a release from Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes:


The Georgia Department of Education released the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) 2016-2017 school year data on November 2nd.

The CCRPI is Georgia’s statewide accountability system, implemented in 2012 to replace No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress measurement (AYP). It measures schools and districts on a 100-point scale based on multiple indicators of performance.

Five of Gilmer County Charter Schools six schools saw an increase in their CCRPI scores compared to their 2016 scores.

Ellijay Elementary School (EES) made an impressive gain of 13.6 points with a 2017 CCRPI score of 81.1, compared with a 2016 CCRPI score of 67.5. Lauree Pierce, principal at Ellijay Elementary School, stated, “The data indicates that EES is heading in the right direction. To add to the excitement, changes implemented in the 2017-18 school year are sure to have a positive effect on these numbers next year.”

On Nov. 3, Pierce and her administrative staff cooked a steak lunch with homemade desserts for all EES staff to show appreciation for all their hard work.

Gilmer Middle School is comprised of fifth and sixth grades and each grade receives a CCRPI score. The fifth grade receives an elementary CCRPI score and the sixth grade receives a middle school CCRPI score.

According to the scores released, the state’s 2017 CCRPI average was 72.9 for elementary schools, 73 for middle schools and 77.00 for high schools. The state CCRPI average was 75.

For Gilmer County Charter School System, the averages for elementary, middle and high school were 74.3, 79.1 and 71. The district average is 75.2, which exceeded the state average.

EES staff are treated to a steak lunch in celebration of the hard work to get the school to a 13.6 point increase on the 2017 CCRPI.

EES staff are treated to a steak lunch in celebration of the hard work to get the school to a 13.6 point increase on the 2017 CCRPI.

The numbers are based on data from the 2016-2017 academic year. The CCRPI incorporates 50 points for achievement, 40 points for progress and 10 points for achievement gap. The score can also include additional Challenge Points.

Ellijay Elementary, Gilmer Middle and Clear Creek Middle are well above the state CCRPI average; however, there is still continued work to be done.

Gilmer High Schools’ graduation rate is well above the state average and we are working to close the gap on CCRPI performance at the high school level.

Our teachers, leaders, and staff have worked diligently to focus their efforts on student achievement and success. The hard work and dedication of each school’s team led to the improved CCRPI scores and they should definitely be commended.


Stolen Vehicle Report Leads to Three Arrests

Bobcat's Corner, News
Phillip Wayne Morris, Jr.

Phillip Wayne Morris Jr.

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Approximately 8 a.m. this morning, Nov. 6, Gilmer County Sheriff’s Deputies reportedly spotted a vehicle on North Main Street matching description of a stolen vehicle report from Nov. 2.

As deputies began to initiate a traffic stop, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson reports, the vehicle pulled into a residence and three suspects fled the vehicle on foot. These three moved in the direction of the Ellijay Primary and Elementary schools.

Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN that the two schools SROs (School Resource Officer), Officer Josh Ensley for EPS and Officer Zach Weaver for EES, heard another officer reporting a spotting of a stolen vehicle and calling for back-up. “At the call for back-up, our SRO team recognized the area as being in close proximity to our schools and notified school administration who placed the schools on lockdown,” Dr. Wilkes said.

Kristin Charlene Nunez

Kristin Charlene Nunez

As the suspects fled into the vicinity, the SROs joined the pursuit after locking down the schools. Wilkes goes on to say those same two officers were also a part of the apprehension of the suspects.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Heather Raquel Pisony, Kristin Charlene Nunez, and Phillip Wayne Morris Jr. were apprehended without incident in the area behind Ellijay Primary School.

They are currently in custody and the Sheriff’s Office states, “There is no further cause for alarm.” All three currently face charges on Obstruction of an Officer (Misdemeanor), Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer (Felony), Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (Felony), and Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime (Felony).

Dr. Wilkes also informed FYN that the schools response was “a textbook lockdown” with no incidents in either school.

Heather Raquel Pisony

Heather Raquel Pisony

Lasting 15 minutes, the schools proceeded with the lockdown according to plans. The system practices drills for lockdowns like this several times a year with more for other reasons on individual needs.

When asked about the incident, Dr. Wilkes replied, “We are truly blessed to have such outstanding law enforcement officers from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office serving to keep our students and staff safe.”



Gilmer County Announces Teacher of the Year

Bobcat's Corner, News

Ellijay, GA – Gilmer County saw recognition during October’s Board of Education (BOE) meetings for teachers selected as Teacher of the Year for each school in the system. Within 24 hours of their official recognition at the board meeting, one of these teachers would be named the Gilmer Teacher of the Year.

Recognized for Ellijay Primary School, Casey Whitley is a 14-year veteran teacher who has a Masters Degree in Special Education as well as a certification for Special Education for Pre-K to 12th grade. She has taught at Ellijay Primary School for three years. Prior to EPS, Whitley was the preschool specialist at Gilmer Head Start. She and her husband have three daughters of their own.

She says the best part of teaching is watching students progress. She has been called an advocate for her students as her Principal reports she builds engagement resources and strategies for student success.

Students and Teachers prepare for announcing the Gilmer County Teacher of the Year.

Students and Teachers prepare for announcing the Gilmer County Teacher of the Year.

Recognized for Ellijay Elementary School, Connie Dean is an ESOL teacher and Secretary of the School Governance Team. She works to support students as a leader of several student service projects.

Dean also was a part of a Grant allowing students access to the EES Media Center one day a week for most of the Summer.

Recognized for Mountain View Elementary, Arlene Bryan is a 30-year veteran of special education. Her administration nominated her due to a continuous impact on children through high expectations and her efforts as a role model for fellow teachers.

Bryan will be retiring this year from Mountain View. Administration continued to praise her humility throughout her years of service.

Recognized for Clear Creek Middle School, Adam Palmer serves as the Chorus Teacher and the Cross Country Coach. Palmer was praised for a unique ability in the school to work with all students to improve character building in daily lessons.

His administration’s nomination praised the lasting effects of his teacher-student relationships that they say have improved the school’s quality.

Recognized for Gilmer High School, Mary-Melissa May is in her sixth year of teaching at the high school where she teaches Honor Biology and coaches the Swim Team. She also serves on the GHS Leadership Team as the Science Department Chair. Constant hard work sees May researching best practices for teaching Biology and sharing in Professional Learning Communities (PLC).

Not only does she coach the GHS Swim Team, but May was reported by her administration as instrumental in starting the varsity team four years ago. She also took 10 swimmers from Gilmer to state competition last season.

Principal Larry Walker offers flowers to Shannon Goble as he announces her as Teacher of the Year.

Principal Larry Walker offers flowers to Shannon Goble as he announces her as Teacher of the Year.

As for the teacher who received prestige as the Gilmer County Teacher of the Year, recognized from Gilmer Middle School, Shannon Goble was treated to a surprise announcement early in the morning of October 17.

As she was “pulled from her classroom” for a quick word with one of the faculty, her students and fellow teachers prepared the hallway where she teaches for a warm reception for the announcement. Returning, Goble rounded the corner on her hall to a flood of cheers as students and teachers alike waved a banner of congratulations and offered flowers for her.

Shannon Goble, Teacher of the Year, stands with her students after the announcement.

Shannon Goble, Teacher of the Year, stands with her students after the announcement.

Shannon Goble is called always positive and helpful by her peers who also say she shows she cares through a friendly and kind nature. Even her students note she always smiles and is funny as she helps them with their daily lessons.

Administration says it is her servitude that shows them she is all about the people she interacts with daily.

Goble herself says she never really thought about achieving Teacher of the Year for her school, much less for the entire system. She told FYN, “There is nothing better. It let’s you know that what you are doing truly matters.”

Teacher of the Year Shannon Goble takes a moment to share with fellow teachers from Gilmer Middle School.

Teacher of the Year Shannon Goble takes a moment to share with fellow teachers from Gilmer Middle School.

Goble said she never doubted her students appreciated her as they share their happiness with her, but it is something more to also know her colleagues think so highly of her.

With over 20 years of educational experience, Goble worked in the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) prior to teaching. She has been teaching 5th grade for most of her years at GMS.

Speaking of the award, Goble said she wants to continue her efforts as she has been for all of her years. Saying that just like the kids she has to continue learning new things and improving every day, Goble commented, “I think of myself as a big kid.”


Experience does matter and that is why you should vote Scott C. Chastain as your next Probate Judge

Election, Politics

A word to the voters from Scott Chastain (paid for by Campaign to Elect Scott Chastain)

I keep hearing “experience matters” and I agree with that. I have the experience and education necessary and will be ready on day one to do my job as your next Probate Judge. Contrary to what you have heard or been told, due to our population here in Gilmer County the state of Georgia does not require you to be an attorney in order to perform the duties of the Probate Judge. To my knowledge, Gilmer County has never had an attorney serve in this position. The Probate Judge does need to have common sense, common courtesy, respect, fairness, compassion and the ability to research. I believe my years in business dealing with the public, managing employees and preparing budgets combined with the attributes I have listed above, make me the best choice for Gilmer County’s next Probate Judge.

The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. If you haven’t watched the debate from April 11th,  click here to watch it.  Listen very closely to the questions and the answers given. I was shocked and disappointed in a few of the answers given during that debate. The Probate Judge is required by law to do several things but performing a marriage ceremony is not one of them. Those of you that know me, know that I have always tried my best to be honest even when I knew it wasn’t going to be what some wanted to hear. I have a very good friend that told me one time that “plain talk is easily understood”. I am not saying things to get your vote, I am saying them because it’s the truth. I hope that my life has been a testimony to this and that you know that when I am elected, I will treat all of you with fairness, compassion and respect. Please vote for me on May 24th and allow me to serve you as the next Gilmer County Probate Judge.


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Election, Politics

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Gilmer Votes For…

Election, Politics

The results are in from Super Tuesday in Gilmer County.

Tallying votes totaled with just over 52% of Gilmer County’s Registered Voters turning out in the primary.

In the Democratic Party:

Hillary Clinton took top votes with 489 total.
Bernie Sanders took second with 421 total.
Michael Steinberg collected 9 votes.
Martin O’Malley collected 3 votes.

In the Republican Party:

Donald Trump took top votes with 3314 total.
Ted Cruz took second with 1327 total.
Marco Rubio collected 1152 votes.
Ben Carson collected 315 votes.
John Kasich collected 232 votes.
Jeb Bush collected 35 votes.
Mike Huckabee collected 21 votes.
Rand Paul collected 14 votes.
Carly Fiorina collected 6 votes.
Rick Santorum collected 4 votes.
Chris Christie collected 3 votes.
Lindsey Graham collected 2 votes.
George Pataki collected 0 votes.


Joshua Thermon Teague Announces Candidacy for Office of Probate Judge

Election, Politics

Joshua Thermon Teague Announces his Candidacy for the Office of Probate Judge in the Republican Primary.

To the people of Gilmer County:

Outside of 3 brief years while attending law school, I have been blessed to call Gilmer County home for my entire life. My family has been a part of this community for generations. I know many of you. I have worked with you. I attended school with you. I have worshiped with you. That is to say, Gilmer County is a large part of who I am and the people of this wonderful community have helped me to become who I am. It is for this reason that I am announcing my candidacy for the Office of Gilmer County Probate Judge.

As many of you may be aware the office of probate judge in Gilmer County has traditionally not been filled by a licensed Attorney or someone with a legal education. However, as years have progressed many new laws have been passed and our legal system has become increasingly complicated and difficult to navigate. State law requires candidates for probate judge in all large counties be licensed attorneys, and in recent elections both Fannin and Pickens county have elected licensed attorneys to serve as their probate judge. It is important to note that the probate judges in larger counties do not preside over more complicated matters, they simply have a larger jurisdiction. The Gilmer County Probate Judge is charged not only with administrating wills and elections, but with hearing contested court cases argued by Attorneys and individuals alike to determine if a will has been tampered with or was the product of fraud or coercion, hearing traffic and criminal cases such as DUI, hearings over easement use, and determining whether to grant a guardianship or conservatorship over someone and remove their rights to make their own decisions, manage their affairs, control their finances, and make their own medical decisions.

I do not believe that the level of fairness and due process you receive in Court should ever be dictated by the size of the community you live in. I believe that the people of Gilmer county deserve the same level of due process as the people of Cobb, Dekalb, Fannin, and Pickens Counties. I believe that when someone applies to be appointed guardian over their family member or loved one that they deserve to have a Judge with a legal education determine if the legal requirements are met. I believe that when someone has to appear before a judge for a traffic or criminal citation that they deserve to have a Judge who has practiced law and has been licensed by the State Bar, hear any motions they may have and preside over a trial while applying all proper legal precedents, case law, and evidentiary standards. I believe that the Judge who is charged with determining whether the document which reflects someone’s last wishes is valid, has not been tampered with, or was made under duress. The Probate Judge should be as qualified as a Judge who can grant an adoption, divorce, name change, or the attorneys who appear before them.

Currently, I am a private attorney. I have represented clients in Federal and State courts, securing guardianships and conservatorships, contesting and probating wills, defended clients charged with misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, and secured large settlements for serious injuries and wrongful death for my Clients. I received my Juris Doctorate from Florida Coastal School of Law after obtaining my Bachelors of Science in Social Science Education form Kennesaw State University. Before entering private practice I completed internships with the United State’s Attorney’s Office, Judge Roger Bradley, and Chief Judge Brenda Weaver. I serve as the choir director and young adult Sunday school teacher for Mount Vernon Baptist Church. My Wife, LeeAnn, and I have two young children, Gracelyn and Jarrett. My Parents are Jerry Teague and Robin Gates. My Grandparents are the late Thermon and Betty Teague, and Vera Culp and the late Sam Gates.

I hope to be able to be bring the same drive, experience, knowledge, and eagerness to help people that has marked my private practice to the office of Probate Judge and to the service of the people of Gilmer County. In that spirit, I look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of Gilmer County and ask for your vote and support in the upcoming Republican Primary election in May, 2016.

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