By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Reporter
CHEROKEE, N.C. – In its latest meeting, the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education approved a new head football coach and hosted a conversation on mental health support at the school.
The Board unanimously approved Tim Hawkins as the new head coach of varsity football after Coach David Napert announced that he would be retiring at the end of the school year. Hawkins was interviewed and recommended by a panel that included current CCS Athletic Director Sean Ross. The Board debated postponing these decisions as Ross has announced that he will be changing positions, and CCS will need a new athletic director. The Board thought it might be valuable to allow the next athletic director to select the coaches they wished, but they were unsure when that could occur.
Given the timing of the hires and the need to replace Napert, the Board decided to proceed with the recommended hire. Human Resources Director Jo Ray said that Hawkins was the only applicant for the position that had previous head coach experience.
The largest portion of Monday’s meeting came in speaking with the Cherokee Middle School (CMS) student support team consisting of School Social Worker Dre Crowe, Guidance Counselor Shaye Ledford-Gloyne, and Licensed Clinical Therapist Chazi Blankenship. The trio was in attendance to discuss the details of their jobs and how each of their roles operates within the school and the community.
As the CMS social worker, Crowe addresses the needs of the kids in school. She offers access to additional food if that is lacking at home, clothes, and hygiene products. Crowe often deals with the first line of safety concerns and issues with behavior and mental health. Ledford-Gloyne often assists specifically with academics but is involved in several ways for emotional support. She assists with setting goals and plans for students, addresses social or behavioral problems that might be affecting students, and with short-term counseling at the school. Both Crowe and Ledford-Gloyne can write referrals for children that need more in-depth urgent assistance, and that’s when they are sent to Blankenship.
Blankenship currently sees 40 students at the middle school, though she says her workable capacity would be closer to 30. She provides support through therapy and helps with depression, anxiety, and several behavioral and mental health issues. Blankenship is the one that makes the ultimate call if a student needs additional support and should be sent to the hospital. She is the only staff member qualified to make these clinical assessments. She is also the only licensed clinical therapist at CCS.
The Board spoke with these three for over an hour about ongoing issues such as what can be done to increase support for kids, and to work through concerns about the limitations of their positions at the school. The Board voiced support for these services being available at the school, and there were mentions of increasing these services to the high school if needed. The Board pledged to continue to support and were thankful to be made more intimately aware of the work that the support team does at CMS.
The next guests to the meeting were CCS Finance Director Howard Wahnetah and Cherokee Boys Club Finance Director Rhonica Via. They said that there was nothing significant to report and that each of the budgets were on pace for this time of year. The School Board has spent 70.8 percent of their total $156,200 budget, which is below the listed target of 91.6 percent for this point of the budget year.
Another guest to the meeting was Jennifer Martens, who was present to give an update on the Strategic Innovation Plan for the school. She offered a slide presentation and showed how they modeled aspects of their plan from the North Carolina academic strategic plan. She said that the strategic plan was not set in stone, but that the team were closing in on that point.
The consent agenda was amended by pulling two resolutions and fixing a typo in another. Following that, the Board unanimously passed the amended consent agenda and put forth the following:
- Tim Hawkins was approved as the Head Football Coach for Cherokee Central Schools.
- Mary Thompson was approved to volunteer with the Travel Club this summer to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
- CHS Travel Club was approved to travel to Hawaii in the summer of 2024.
- Richard Wright III was approved to work at Summer Autism Camp School 2023.
- Holly Silvers was approved to work Summer Autism Camp School 2023.
- Michelle Galloway was approved as the HOPE Center and PreK Director.
- Scott Freeman was approved to work STEAM Camp 2023.
- The Testing and Data Management Director be made a permanent position.
- The Curriculum and Instruction Director be made a permanent position.
- Tori Teesateskie was approved to volunteer with the Lady Braves Basketball programs.
The two resolutions were pulled for clerical reasons. Resolution 23-315 was pulled to allow Board member Berdie Toineeta to abstain from the vote due to a personal relations. Resolution 23-318 was pulled to be made into separate resolutions. It was developed to approve the returning team coaches in one piece of legislation, but the Board decided to pull it to approve each coach individually later.
There were four amendments made to job descriptions, all of which were passed unanimously. The transition specialist position was changed from a 12-month contract to an 11-month contract. The other three changed minimum requirements for the following positions:
- ISS Instructor
- Head Basketball Coach
- Employment Educator
The Monday, June 5 meeting of the CCS Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Co-Vice Chairs Tara Reed-Cooper and Melanie Lambert; Secretary Kristina Hyatt; Board member Berdie Toineeta; Superintendent Consuela ‘Consie’ Girty; Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne; Tribal Council Rep. Alternate Dike Sneed; HR Director Jo Ray; and Administrative Assistant Diane Driver all in attendance. Board member Regina Ledford Rosario was excused from the meeting. Rep. Dike Sneed needed to leave the meeting early and missed the second half of the session.
The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education is set for Tuesday, June 20 at 4:45 p.m. Meetings are being held in the Administrative Offices at Cherokee Central Schools. These meetings are open to the public unless there is a call for an executive session.