ADMINISTRATION

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Beth and Ron Black

Founders, Chairmen of the Board

Beth's Bio

Prior to founding Cherokee Creek Boys School, Beth was a marketing, training and communications professional. She began her career by working for over a decade with the Walt Disney World organization. She fondly embraces this time as foundational for all her subsequent work in the area of corporate culture building and customer service excellence. Additionally, Beth was the co-founder of Advantage Training, a consulting firm focused on service excellence training and strategic marketing. As the Director of Healthy Community Initiative, Beth used the research of Search Institute to create a community campaign to address the challenges of teen drug use in Orlando.

“The founding of CCBS was truly the response of a calling – something I could not NOT do. Each job I’ve had has contributed critical knowledge and experience to help build and grow our ‘small school with a big heart’. I love every moment I spend living the mission of Cherokee Creek!”

Beth's Middle School Story

“When I was in middle school, I lived in Winnetka, Illinois. I had a mad crush on the minister’s son who, alas, didn’t know I was alive – sigh. I got to be in the town play as The Cowardly Lion in the ‘Wizard of Oz’. I was the tallest person in my class except for Bill Sampson, bless him. I was proud to be a Girl Scout, the Beach Boys were my favorite music group and my Dad got transferred for the 7th time… this time we moved to Greenwich, Connecticut.”

Ron's Bio

In addition to being a founder, Ron serves as Vice President and General Counsel for Cherokee Creek Boys School. He is a native of Waco, North Carolina where his family still resides.

Ron received his Jurist Doctorate from Wake Forest University and his undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina in Political Science.

He has been practicing law as a sole practitioner in Orlando, Florida for the past 40+ years. He is currently engaged in real estate law and is also privately involved in real estate development. He is an avid golfer and if Beth ever lets him retire, he will be found on the links nearly every day!

Ron's Middle School Story

“I grew up on the family farm where the biggest action in town was watching the train go by and going to Slick Earl’s Gas Station for a ‘Co-Cola’! In middle school, I was caught by the teacher throwing dice behind the locker room with a group of friends. We all ended up getting paddled for lying to him about what we were doing… and what I feared most was having to tell my father! Farm life meant getting up at 5:30 a.m. to feed the calves… and hurrying home after school to do more chores. When there was free time, I loved to go down to the cabin my brother and I built at the creek to fish and hang out with friends.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Therapeutic Schools for Boys

Beth’s Personal Perspective

In the early 1990’s, my husband, Ron, and I found ourselves parenting a son struggling with learning challenges, ADHD, and adoption issues. For years, we looked for help. Our efforts seemed futile and led to no significant solutions or improvements.

Finish Beth's and Ron's Journey

In fact, as the years wore on, his behaviors spiraled downward. Our home had become a battlefield. We were heartsick, and felt helpless, discouraged and, ultimately, despair.

We remember our tremendous relief when we finally found a therapeutic program in Northern Idaho designed for families like ours. The help our son and our family received impacted us deeply. After years of frustration, we had hope again!

It has been over ten years since our son graduated and I can reflect that the decision to send him to a therapeutic program changed our world. He grew, our daughter healed from the challenges of living in a “war zone” and my husband and I could laugh and experience joy again.

Our experience led directly to the dream of founding Cherokee Creek Boys School to help other families through the difficult times of parenting a struggling child.

Our vision is to provide healing and hope… one family at a time. We hope you will consider being a part of this powerful process. Ron and I – and the entire CCBS team – look forward to the opportunity to serve you and your son.

Warmly,

Beth Black, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | David LePere | Executive Director

David LePere

Executive Director

Joined CCBS in 2007

David's Bio

David has over two decades of experience in therapeutic schools and wilderness-based education. Prior to joining Cherokee Creek Boys School in 2007, he directed Middle and High School therapeutic schools in California, Oregon and Utah. He has “grown up” in the business, holding positions as a teacher, team leader (primary) wilderness guide, as well as Program Director and Executive Director.

In addition to his work with therapeutic schools, David helped start a wilderness program sponsored by Houghton College that serves teens in western NY. He was also part of a group that developed and led a leadership camp program through Perm State University in Perm, Russia. Teenagers were selected from all over Russia after winning a national competition that named them as future leaders for the country.

David has been a member of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council. While on the council, he participated in research projects that measured the short- and long-term impacts of therapeutic use of the outdoors on teens and young adults who are in out-of-home care.

David is an active member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP). He has served on a variety of committees, chaired the Best Practices Committee, and is currently serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors.

David has presented at NATSAP regional and national conferences, as well as Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) conferences.

David enjoys all things outdoors, but especially climbing, biking, skiing, and backpacking. He has been a certified mountain, rafting, caving, experiential activities, ropes courses, and primitive living skills instructor and taught all of the above plus canoeing. He has also been a mountain climber for nearly 30 years, and is a certified AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) guide who has led groups of students climbing all over the US and Canada. Living in our region, David has been making a switch to kayaking so he can spend more time with our students and his three sons on the wild rivers of the Southeast!

“My professional mission statement is to serve students and families through inspired leadership. The opportunity to lead at Cherokee Creek is an honor and privilege. Every level of our school, from the board to our teachers and counselors, operates from the values of Safety, Quality, Creativity and Fun! I am always excited to collaborate with our excellent staff, our committed parents, and most importantly the energetic, wonderful students of Cherokee Creek Boys School.”

David and his wife, Janine, met while working as counselors at a therapeutic boarding school. They have been married since 1994 and, along with their sons Riley, Cole and Dylan, enjoy living in the Southeast near their parents and family.

David's Middle School Story

“When I was in Middle School, I had the ultimate pair of bell-bottoms. Those pants perfectly complimented my feathered back hair and CHiPs-style sunglasses! My love of the wilderness began back then at summer camp. Even though I was set on fire (accidentally) by my camp counselors, those early wilderness experiences taught me how to make friends and be better prepared for my school years and beyond.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Shaler Black Cooper | Senior Director of Marketing & Admissions

Shaler Black Cooper

Senior Director of Marketing & Admissions

Joined CCBS in 2010

Shaler's Bio

Shaler has been part of the Cherokee Creek family from the beginning. After graduating from Elon University with a degree in Sociology and Human Services, she worked at CCBS as a counselor from 2003 – 2004 as well as in administration and finance. Shaler then spent a number of years in the corporate world where she gathered additional background in marketing, event planning, fund-raising and volunteer coordination. In 2010, Shaler returned to Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School as Admissions Director.

In 2019, Shaler became Senior Director of Marketing & Admissions. She continues to lead the admissions department while also focusing on the responsibilities of marketing, business development, strategic partnerships and special projects.

In addition to her first-hand experience on campus, Shaler brings a special perspective to her work both as the sibling of a brother who attended a therapeutic boarding school and as the daughter of CCBS founders, Ron and Beth Black. This experience is invaluable as Shaler helps to drive the CCBS vision by supporting families and helping professionals.

Shaler travels throughout the country to represent Cherokee Creek Boys Boarding School at conferences. She lives in Seneca, SC with her husband, Jason, their sons, Thompson and Rush and daughter, Libby. While not working, Shaler can be found having adventures with her family, volunteering for her sons’ schools or at the YMCA.

Shaler's Middle School Story

“I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and attended middle school at St. James Cathedral School. I know I looked adorable in my plaid skirt, middy blouse, and navy tie uniform… and shiny new braces, fluorescent head gear, and half-grown out perm! I spent the years playing volleyball, basketball, and cheerleading. Seinfeld, 90210, and “My So Called Life” were my favorites on TV. My babysitting career took off and I saved up my money for Elizabeth Arden’s ‘Sunflowers’ perfume and a new Caboodle to store my makeup! My cousin Sarah and I begged my mom to get Glamour Shots photos… and now we’ve spent years begging her to take them down and hide them!“

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Christy Swafford

Admissions Director

Joined CCBS in 2012

Christy's Bio

Christy has been part of the Cherokee Creek family since 2010. She served as a counselor with us for six months before heading off to Liberty University to obtain a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling which she received in 2013. As part of her degree plan, she completed her graduate school internship here at CCBS.

After graduation, Christy became a full-time member of the team as she became our weekday 2nd shift Floor Manager. Her energy, enthusiasm and warm personality coupled with her leadership and organizational gifts were natural fits for continued growth into the Assistant Admissions Director and Family Center Manager roles.

In 2020, Christy transitioned into the Admissions Director role where she is able to continue to follow her strong passion for supporting hurting teens and families.

Christy's Middle School Story

“While I was in middle school I lived in Douglasville, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta. I went to a small private school where I played basketball in the 7th grade. I believe I played in one game. I was definitely an overachiever and liked to succeed at everything I did. However, this wasn’t completely realistic, hence I only played in one basketball game! I was very chunky for my age which led to a lot of bullying and name calling. I remember being called ‘cow’ and being ‘mooed’ at multiple times. This did not lead to a great middle school experience, but it did lead me to become very resilient!”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Amy Gunter | Family Center Manager

Amy Gunter

Family Center Manager

Joined CCBS in 2016

Amy's Bio

Amy joined the Cherokee Creek team in 2016 and has helped in a variety of areas. Her roles have ranged from working directly with the students to organizing the staff schedules, student transports and coordinating staff training. Her attention to detail, understanding of all of the moving parts in our community, and organizational abilities make her a wonderful leader for our Family Center.

In her free time, you will find her curled up on a couch with her pets, a good book and a nice cup of coffee or spending time with her husband, friends and family.

Amy's Middle School Story

“Middle school was interesting for me. I was a band geek and a bookworm. I would go to the library on Monday morning before classes and get 3 or 4 books and return them Friday afternoon in exchange for 2 or 3 more before I got on the bus to go home for the weekend. I absolutely LOVED to read (and still do!). I was involved in all of the band programs and was very involved in the youth events at my Church. A lot of my time was spoken for, and I had to be very organized with my time to make sure that nothing fell through the cracks (and that I still had time to read my books!). My parents, teachers and friends all gave me so much freedom to be my quirky little list-making self. While there are many embarrassing moments and stories that I could share, this is what I choose to remember from Middle School.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Ginelle Kohl | Executive Assistant

Ginelle Kohl

Human Resources and Compliance Manager

Joined CCBS in 2020

Ginelle's Bio

Ginelle is originally from Wyoming. She moved to Georgia in 2007 and fell in love with the South. She attended Toccoa Falls College where she graduated with a degree in Counseling / Psychology and a minor in Outdoor Leadership and Education.

Ginelle has worked with kids for over 15 years. She worked with The Adventure Youth Program (AYP) in NE Georgia for several years. Her team provided respite for 6- to 19-year-old kids in foster care from all over the state of Georgia, taking them camping and often allowing some of them to be out of the city for the first time in their lives. She was also a Program Manager for Shepherds Hill Academy / Therapeutic Boarding School for more than eight years.

It was during this time that she discovered her love and desire to work alongside teenagers in their vulnerable years, helping them cultivate healthy habits and thought processes.

“I love the quote that says your greatest strength is often your greatest weakness. In my teen years my ‘strength’ was a stubborn desire to get my way. Although it mostly worked against me in my teenage years, later in my life it ended up being a strength. I used my stubbornness to create healthy habits for myself, pursue what I loved doing and make a difference in the lives of others.”

She joined the Cherokee Creek team in the “interesting and “memorable” year of 2020 (as everyone was figuring out how to handle the pandemic). She brings great experience, perspective and heart to her role at CCBS as an executive assistant and more!

Ginelle teaches the boys how to play disc golf and other sports / activities. They practice putting on campus, she takes them on trips to local courses, and some of the boys even get to compete in local tournaments. Something you may not know about Ginelle, in 2022 she achieved a rating of more than 900, which the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) considers a professional rating! She competed in the Amateur World Championship where she came in 12th and she also came in 2nd in the US Disc Golf Doubles Championship.

When Ginelle is not at Cherokee Creek, you can find her biking, playing disc golf, swimming, reading, planning vacations, thrift-store shopping, woodworking, watching way too much Netflix or drinking loads of coffee!

Ginelle's Middle School Story

“Middle school was sort of a blur for me. I remember going from a tiny elementary school to entering the halls of a ‘giant’ middle school and feeling lost. I was fortunate to get plugged into several sports (basketball, volleyball, track and swimming) with a phenomenal coach / health teacher who completely supported and encouraged me during those awkward and insecure years.

Like many kids, I grew up and tried to find my place in the world. I got into some trouble (defiance, lying, stealing, bad friends, etc). Today, my mom and I joke that the things I used to get in trouble for, I not only learned from, but I am very fortunate to be able to use those life experiences to help others now.

I am a huge believer in people’s ability to change because I feel that I am evidence of that.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Misty Victory

RN | School Health & Safety Nurse

Joined CCBS in 2022

Misty's Bio

Misty grew up in middle Tennessee as the youngest of five. Being raised in a large family and spending time volunteering at a shelter for battered women and children helped Misty to know that she wanted a large family of her own and that she is passionate about helping people. With four children of her own, Misty is well practiced at caring for children. Misty and her family have lived in a variety of communities and settled in Northeast Georgia after her husband’s retirement from the service.

Misty’s career has included positions at the Health Department, in an addiction treatment center and in an acute care unit, caring for patients after surgeries.

Friends and family describe Misty as a kindhearted soul with core Christian values. She is quiet, humble and believes in leading by example. Misty enjoys horseback riding, kayaking, singing and spending time with family on the lake.

Misty's Middle School Story

“Coming soon!”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Mark York

Kitchen Manager

Joined CCBS in 2010

Mark's Bio

Mark joined the CCBS kitchen team in 2010 and became the kitchen manager in 2013. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the kitchen with his background in running restaurants and in owning a catering company. Mark also has an extensive knowledge of gardening which is appreciated when he shares mouthwatering treats from his garden for all to sample.

“Food has always been important to me… from ground to the plate. Nutrition is a vital element in nurturing healthy bodies and minds. Middle school boys are at an important time in their lives where their bodies are growing like never before and they can really pack the calories away. It is my role to give them the fuel they need.”

Mark's Middle School Story

“I asked my mother what she remembered about my middle school years, and she said, ‘Well, Mark, I remember that you were always working at the restaurant.’ … and I still am today, so I guess that says something about me. I have always liked being around food and obviously I knew it from an early age.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Caleb Hawkins

Athletic Director | Academic Coordinator | Registrar | IT / Technology

Joined CCBS in 2015

Caleb's Bio

Caleb joined the CCBS team in 2015 working in Direct Care and as a Secondary / Leader to the boys. He currently serves several important roles, including Athletic Director, Academic Coordinator / Registrar and he oversees IT / Technology on the campus.

Caleb grew up in France and Germany and returned to the US where he graduated from Toccoa Falls College in Georgia with a Degree in Outdoor Leadership / Education, Biblical Studies in Theology and an Associate Degree in Teaching.

He enjoys sharing his love of sports with the students by organizing all the sports activities, tools and equipment needed. “It’s heartwarming to see big grins on the boy’s faces when they try new sports, activities and clubs that they didn’t think they could ever do.” (He also admits that he is always looking for opportunities to expand the fan base of his favorite soccer team … Liverpool in the United Kingdom.)

Caleb also oversees academic advancements regarding technology allowing the boys to use technology in a positive and safe way on campus.

One of his favorite things about working at Cherokee Creek is “Our team / staff feels like a family – and we make it a priority to work with the boys’ families to ensure that they feel a part of the CCBS family.”

Caleb enjoys reading and collecting Hawaiian shirts (his extensive collection currently includes 98 shirts … and it’s still growing!). He is a proud dad to three awesome kids and is grateful for the support of his lovely wife, Anna.

Caleb's Middle School Story

“The majority of my middle school years were spent at a boarding school in Germany. I lived in a dorm in a town separate from the main campus of school with dorm parents a bit more strict than your typical dorm parents. After a particularly rough day at school and a stressful conversation with said dorm parents, I went to my room and out of anger punched a hole in the wall by my bed. Not wanting to get in large amounts of trouble, I told my RA at the time … who I had good rapport with … about what happened and they helped me find a cork board to cover the hole. To this day, I do not believe the dorm parent ever found out about said hole and upon my last visit years later, the hole was still there.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

BOTO … the CCBS Bear

Official Campus Greeter and Mascot

Joined CCBS in 2021

The Story of BOTO

BOTO joined the CCBS team in 2021 as the official Mascot and Greeter for the school. As you arrive on campus and approach the porch of the lodge, BOTO greets you with a wave and a smile! He says, although it can be difficult on rainy and cold days, he loves his job because he helps students, staff, guests and visitors feel welcome … while adding a smile to their day. Bonus!

CCBS Founder and Owner, Beth Black, shares the story about how BOTO came to be the CCBS mascot.

“Over 20 years ago, before the school was open, as we were dreaming the dream of Cherokee Creek, I said to our headmaster, ‘We need to choose a mascot for our school … something purposeful, something that supports our hopes and vision for the school and the boys.’

The next morning he called to say our mascot had ‘presented’ himself … the paw prints and other evidence of a Black Bear appeared on the driveway in front of the lodge during the night.

We soon discovered that the Bear’s ‘medicine’ was exactly what we wanted for our boys. Bears represent introspection, healing, change, solitude, wisdom and transformation. While he doesn’t appear often, our Black Bear friend still lives in the vicinity, and he has been spotted a few times over the years watching over us.”

So it came to be that the Black Bear chose us and blesses our work at Cherokee Creek with his powerful Bear Energy … and BOTO embodies that spirit daily at CCBS.


BOTO said the number one question people ask him is how he got his name? What does it mean? So he often tells the BOTO story …

“Years ago a CCBS team member, Andrew, arrived at work with a t-shirt that said “# B.O.T.O.” on the front. Everyone was curious about it. Andrew finally revealed that it stood for Be Open to Outcome, the guiding principle of the TEACHER and the value of WISDOM on our medicine wheel.

‘BOTO’ quickly became the mantra for boys, families and staff as we all have learned the wisdom in letting go of the need to control in order to embrace curiosity and flexibility and become open for new possibilities to emerge.”

BOTO is so much more than just the greeter and mascot. He is a symbol of hope and possibility for all those who cross the Cherokee Creek threshold.

BOTO's Middle School Story

We asked BOTO if he wanted to share a middle school story and he said:

“I must confess I never went to middle school, so it is an honor to work at this wonderful, special, and unique school! I love being a part of this great CCBS team who cares about the boys and families and I do my best to be the best greeter and mascot ever.

Oh, and one of the most fun parts of this job is that I have become a bit of a celebrity. People often line up to get their picture taken with me … and that makes me feel very special and appreciated!”

“My professional mission statement is to serve students and families through inspired leadership. The opportunity to lead at Cherokee Creek is an honor and privilege. Every level of our school, from the board to our teachers and counselors, operates from the values of Safety, Quality, Creativity and Fun! I am always excited to collaborate with our excellent staff, our committed parents, and most importantly the energetic, wonderful students of Cherokee Creek Boys School.”

– David LaPere | Director

ACADEMICS DEPARTMENT

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Calvin Croxton | Academic Dean

Calvin Croxton

Academic Dean

Joined CCBS in 2019

Calvin's Bio

Prior to Cherokee Creek, Calvin taught in Greenville, SC and at Tri-County Technical College as adjunct professor. His initial teaching experience was in the Navy where he taught orienteering, combat arms and First Aid / CPR. Calvin is married to Debbie, a teacher as well, and has four children ages 23 to 12. Calvin enjoys teaching social studies in the style of a tour guide and taking the students on “travels through history.” Cherokee Creek is fortunate to have Calvin guiding the academic department as well as sharing his love of social studies with our boys.

Calvin is a recently-retired Navy Veteran with over 23 years of service. While in the Navy, Calvin served as Training Lead Petty Officer, leading the training for more than 450 Seabees in preparation of and through a deployment to Iraq.

Calvin's Middle School Story

“My first competitive sports experience was in Middle School basketball. At first, I did not get much playing time but during the middle of my first season, we played an away game at one of our key rival schools where I finally was able to get into the game near the end of the fourth quarter. One of the main reasons I was put in was for my rebounding skills. Imagine my horror when I managed to snag a rebound with two minutes left and started back up for a shot, only to realize halfway up that I was about to shoot into our opponent’s net. Panicked to pass it off mid-shot, I saw no one and had to land and take the traveling call – a rookie mistake for a dependable rebounder.

Though middle school wasn’t the greatest experience, it did prepare me for future success in high school, college and the military. And thankfully, I was also able to build off that mid-air mistake and parlay quick-thinking skills into a successful high school basketball career.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Cameron Kerr | Teacher | English | Language Arts

Cameron Kerr

Teacher | English | Language Arts

Joined CCBS in 2014

Cameron's Bio

Cameron joined the Cherokee Creek team in 2014 supporting students with afternoon, weekend and sports activities. He transitioned to the Academic department where he has served as Registrar, Substitute Teacher, Tutor and Academic Coordinator. This position allowed Cameron to create and execute special learning events for our students, including our Festival of Nations, Boxcar Derby Competition, and other experiential field trips. Cameron then entered the classroom full-time as our English Language Arts Teacher.

Cameron is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College, has Orton-Gillinham training and is participating in the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) program.

Cameron believes that every student can find joy in reading! He feels that even the most reluctant readers just haven’t yet picked up the right book! He reflects: “When I was in middle school, I was a difficult student to reach with reading! It wasn’t until I found Eoin Colfer and his Artemis Fowl series that I found out that reading is fun!” Using his training in the Orton-Gillingham method, Cameron assists struggling readers through multi-sensory instruction. This is particularly helpful for our students who may have dyslexia, dysgraphia and visual / auditory processing disorders.

Cameron knows that students have more success and confidence when they have the right academic support with a creative and engaging curriculum and classroom. Using tools such as graphic organizers, Cameron helps students organize their thoughts and create quality writing pieces. His years of supporting our students outside of the classroom provides Cameron with an understanding and skill set to support the whole student in our integrated program.

While working with each student’s individual needs, Cameron ensures that state and national standards are met for each grade level. He prides himself on creating a safe and positive classroom environment and is known for always finding ways to incorporate ‘fun’ into his work.

Cameron's Middle School Story

“Middle school was an interesting time for me … as it probably was for everyone. Most people tend to recall their time in their early teens with embarrassment, and I am one of those people. A few friends of mine, for no other reason than being boys of that age, began to fight with sticks. This was a play fight, but we worked at getting good at blocking strikes and avoiding blows. This went from an only occasional occurrence to entire weekends spent planning out and executing large battles with our now meticulously crafted wooden sabers, two-handed long swords and dirks. The marks and scars on my knuckles will always remind me of this time. I would much rather claim I got them from working construction but I think now I can say that I was a typical kid with a sense of adventure and imagination during a time when boys are testing their manhood.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Nick Linscott | Teacher | Mathematics

Nick Linscott

Teacher | Mathematics

Joined CCBS in 2004

Nick's Bio

With more than fifteen years of service, Nick is our longest tenured staff member at Cherokee Creek. His background in science, biology, teaching, outdoor recreation, scouting and work with children have made him an excellent addition to the teaching staff at Cherokee Creek Boys School.

Born and raised in Athens, Ohio, Nick attended Ohio University where he received a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a B.S. Ed. Degree in Secondary Science. After graduation, he taught Junior High School Science and High School Biology at New Boston High School in New Boston, Ohio.

Nick then combined his teaching skills with his love for the outdoors as an instructor at The Nantahala Outdoor Center, working with their rafting and canoeing programs in South Carolina. He was a sought-after substitute teacher during the winters and still believes that there is no better preparation for any teacher than a few winters of substitute teaching!

“I came to Cherokee Creek because I wanted to be somewhere I could use my talents, education and diversity of experience to do profoundly important work. I’ve been here for more than ten years now and I still feel joy and pride in what we do. I am inspired by the courage with which our students face and overcome the challenges they face. I believe in the philosophical tenets of our program and especially appreciate both the professionalism and the fun-loving attitude of the staff.”

Nick has been recognized by the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) as Teacher of the Year.

Nick's Middle School Story

“Middle School was a difficult time for me, but I had the good fortune of having a home and family to which I could always return at the end of the day and know that I was loved and accepted no matter what. I was an active member in a great Boy Scout troop – Troop 53. We had a Scoutmaster who was the greatest influence on me outside of my family. There was also a core of good senior boy leadership to emulate and a group of peers who helped make our troop one of the strongest in our region for many years. I still stay in touch with several of those guys.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Sam Taylor | Teacher | Science

Sam Taylor

Teacher | Science

Joined CCBS in 2015

Sam’s Bio

Sam’s love of the outdoors has been evident all his life, so he combined this love with teaching and received an Outdoor Recreation, Management, and Education degree from Georgia Southern University in 2014.

Sam initially joined Cherokee Creek as a member of our trek team, supporting our students and families in adventure programming. His education, engaging personality and experiential teaching model made him the perfect fit to step into the classroom.

Sam holds many certificates and seems to always be adding new ones to the list! These are wonderful contributions to our classrooms and community.

Sam is a Certified Science Teacher for grades 5 – 12. This covers astronomy to biology to thermodynamics!

He is certified in / or has in-depth studies in many areas of science including:

SC Adopt a Stream Certified (for Chemical, Bacterial, and Macroinvertebrate testing)

This program is run by South Carolina DHEC, SCU, and Clemson University. Being certified means Sam is qualified to conduct scientific studies of the ecosystemic health of stream ecosystems (i.e. any aquatic ecosystem with running water). He can test for chemical indicators, bacterial contamination, and species diversity of macroinvertebrates (i.e. creepy crawlies) that live in the stream. This process is used to teach our students about ecosystems, data collection, the scientific method, land management, insect biology, and multiple other environmental science concepts. It also empowers them to participate in REAL LIVING science, as opposed to repeating well worn scientific experiments.

Project Learning Tree

Project WILD and WILD Aquatic certificates (Project WET Certificate in process):

PLT, WILD, and WET are all separate organizations (despite the similar names) that have created a similar initiative. Their missions are to educate K-12 students in environmental science through experiential education, and cross cutting concepts. They provide many different lessons that cover a wide variety of highly adaptable activities and lessons. Many of these lessons incorporate language arts, math, and social studies to promote interest and show relationships between different subject areas. PLT focuses on trees and forests, WILD focuses on wildlife, and WET focuses on aquatic ecosystems.

CPR / First Aid Instructor

Wilderness First Responder Certified

Sam is currently working on his Georgia ATEEG Certification (Advanced Training for Environmental Education, a nationally-accredited program with NAAEE).

Sam is also proud of his volunteer work with Bird Banding, The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance / Botanical Guardian, and he runs the Currahee Cleanup Project.

Sam's Middle School Story

“Middle school was a particularly tough time for me. Not only was I growing up and changing, but the added pressure of having many different classes and teachers made it difficult for me to focus. Having ADHD, I struggled to stay on task and remain present in a regular academic environment. Although I did have some teachers who were understanding and helpful, many were simply dismissive. As a result, I adopted the rebellious persona of a ‘punk rocker’. I eventually grew out of that, but the experience of middle school taught me that most schools do not cater well to those of us with learning disabilities. Having gone through this will impact the way I teach and interact in my classroom.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Larry Printz | Teacher | Social Studies

Larry Printz

Teacher | Social Studies

Joined CCBS in 2020

Larry’s Bio

Larry is a 1999 graduate of Toccoa Falls College with degrees in Psychology and Christian Counseling. He went on to earn a Masters of Education degree from Clemson University. During his 16 years of public school employment, Larry worked with a wide range of students and has had varied roles. He has been responsible for test and career services coordination. Larry’s responsibilities have also included curriculum development and instruction for career courses and adventure education courses. He has also served as a counselor to 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

Larry’s passion for education and experience with middle school education helps him to connect with our students both in Social Studies class and community activities.

Larry’s Middle School Story

“I firmly believe that teachers and coaches can make a difference in a student’s life. During my middle school years, I was already behind a year by being held back in 1st grade. I was a child that was not very confident in myself, feeling like I wasn’t as smart as others, not feeling comfortable in my own skin and exhibiting what was called nervous energy. This is now called ADHD. I ended up failing 7th grade and I was starting to spiral out of control. That is when my PE teacher asked me to run cross country for him. His mentorship along with running gave me much needed confidence in myself. I became more involved in school and eventually received an athletic scholarship to a local community college. Without this teacher / coach investing his time and energy into me, I cannot imagine where I would be at this time of my life.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Chrissy Kizer | Academic Tutor

Chrissy Kizer

Academic Tutor

Joined CCBS in 2022

Chrissy's Bio

Born overseas, Chrissy primarily lived in Papua New Guinea returning home to Greenville, SC for visits and ultimately to attend high school. Chrissy then attended Greenville Technical College where she earned a Food Science Degree. She took this new skill set to the Chattooga River, working for many of the local rafting companies, providing nutrition for visiting rafters and river guides as they adventured the river. During this time, she fell in love with the outdoors, especially the Chattooga River and decided to stay!

In 1996, Chrissy and her husband opened a small café called the Green Salamander in Tallulah Falls, GA. After many years in the restaurant business, Chrissy returned to school and earned a teaching degree in Special Education at Southern Wesleyan University.

Chrissy and her family moved ‘up the mountain’ to Asheville, NC where she taught for 11 years as a Special Education teacher in Buncombe County Schools. She has worked with a broad range of needs such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia and dyscalculia as well as other Specific Learning Disabilities.

With extensive training in Orton Gillingham, Multisensory Math Teaching Program and other support modalities, Chrissy is able to offer a wide range of support to CCBS students, both individually and in small groups.

Lucky for CCBS, Chrissy and her family moved back to the Upstate area. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, paddleboarding, biking, hiking and running.

“I really enjoy working with students one-on-one and watching their self-confidence and skills flourish and grow. Nelson Mandela put it best, ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’”.

Chrissy's Middle School Story

“In 6th grade we came back to Greenville and I attended Southside Christian School. I tried out for the girls basketball team and surprisingly made it! I was so excited I asked my mom to get me white Weapon CX Converse basketball shoes because everybody else had them! She came home with Chuck Taylors instead, and I was so bummed that I did not have the cool sneakers like everyone else. Little did I know that the Chuck Taylors would be so popular several years later!”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Larry Printz | Teacher | Social Studies

Holly Hannon Hamilton

Teacher | Art

Joined CCBS in 2023

Holly’s Bio

Holly Hannon Hamilton joined the CCBS team at the beginning of 2023 as the Art Teacher.

Growing up in Greenville SC, Holly said she knew as early as first grade that she had a gift regarding art. She definitely could color in the lines and draw better than most of the other kids!

In high school, she was selected to attend the first Governor School for the Arts in Greenville, SC. The program was created for 11th and 12th graders who are gifted in the arts and humanities. After high school, she attended The Ringling College of Art in Sarasota, Florida where she majored in Illustration / Design.

After graduation, she worked as an illustrator living in Greenville, SC and later Seneca, SC where she worked as a freelancer, illustrating children’s books and educational materials with companies such as Macmillan, Scholastic and Random House. She has lived in Seneca SC since 1995, working as an Art Teacher for the local Arts Center for 10 years and The Arts Center of Clemson for 10 years teaching adult and children’s classes. And now she is proud to be the CCBS Art Teacher!

At CCBS, Art Classes include drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery and more. She strives to teach the boys that art can be therapeutic as it allows them to express their emotions. Often a project can go on for weeks, teaching them a lot about following something through to completion and creating something they can be proud of. Her goal is to help the boys see that art is not about perfection or being an expert … it’s more about learning to appreciate beauty, express yourself and learning how to see things in a new or different way.

In her spare time, Holly shares her talents in the community by working on commissioned paintings and offering training and art lessons.

Holly’s Middle School Story

“I was really happy and popular in elementary school. But then I went to middle school where I was bullied. Some kids made me help them cheat on tests or else they would threaten me. It shut me down for 10 years. So I know what it is like to be the oddball who was bullied. And although middle school was not a happy time for me … it did teach me a tremendous lesson in empathy. It made me become a super empathetic person. So as a teacher and a person, I make looking out for others a priority and letting them know they are OK!”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Thoreau

Friend | Helper | Sidekick

“The whole glorious history of animals with people is about joy and connection. It’s about loving this creature and letting this creature love you.” – Jon Katz

A Day in the Life of Thoreau

At Cherokee Creek Boys School, we know that animals and pets can have a healing and therapeutic effect on people. They can also add a sense of calm, fun and compassion … and foster a feeling of home … during a boy’s daily life on campus.

We would like to introduce you to a special member of our Cherokee Creek Team … Thoreau. As evidenced by his photo, Thoreau takes his duties quite seriously and is always available when called upon for comforting snuggles.

Thoreau joined the Cherokee Creek team at the beginning of 2022. He says his role is to be a calming presence for students and to keep them company. Some students find that sitting with Thoreau while they are in study hall or working on an English class writing assignment can help reduce their anxiety. This is Thoreau’s calling in life … his raison d’etre … his passion.

You can find Thoreau in the English Classroom, where our English / Language Arts Teacher, Cameron, gave him a home. Cameron and a team of boys work together on a daily schedule for taking care of Thoreau.

And in closing, we leave you with two of Thoreau’s favs by his most favorite author 🙂

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's Middle School Story

We asked Thoreau if he had a middle school story, to share and he said:

“My middle school story is taking place today, as I get to meet these special boys and be a part of their experiences at Cherokee Creek. I strive to help by adding a sense of calm and a feeling of home, as they are on their academic and personal growth journey. I consider myself lucky to meet so many great boys and to be on the Cherokee Creek Team.”

“At CCBS, home and school life are integrated. Everyone on the team is a teacher. We all talk to the students and have genuine connections. We can talk to the boys about lunch, sports, or where they are from, allowing the student to feel at home and connected. It’s very different than a public school that usually has 35 students to 1 teacher. This allows us build relationships with the boys and be committed to their success.”

– Cameron | English Teacher

THERAPY / CLINICAL DEPARTMENT

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Kayla Tompkins | Ed.S., LPC, NCC | Clinical Director

Kayla Tompkins

Ed.S., LPC, NCC | Clinical Director

Joined CCBS in 2009

Kayla's Bio

Kayla Tompkins is a “hometown girl” from Westminster, SC who joined the Cherokee Creek Family in the summer of 2009. Kayla spent time working as a Primary with us as she pursued her Graduate Degrees in Mental Health from Clemson University. As a student, she enjoyed researching and developing her own counseling identity that correlated with the work she was doing at Cherokee Creek. Kayla specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Systems practices, Attachment and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Kayla holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clemson University, along with both a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) also from Clemson. (Go Tigers!)

She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC).

“I find myself living the medicine wheel and using its lessons in my own life day in and day out. It gives us a foundation to work from and common language to use with our students which allows them to express themselves, discover their capabilities, identify their own values, and build character. Along the way, I see them grow into more authentic young men. I get to watch healing take place. It is a blessing to be a part of this process with students and their families.”

Kayla's Middle School Story

“When I was in middle school, my friends and I were pranksters and used to turn the clocks forward so we would get dismissed from class early. We were always into something. My senior year peers nominated me for the superlative of “Class Clown.” Humor was always one of my strongest coping skills when times were tough. Now I find myself teaching appropriate humor skills to middle schoolers on a regular basis- oh the irony!”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Nancy Terry

MA, LPC | Full-Time Therapist

Joined CCBS in 2016

Nancy's Bio

Nancy Terry is the therapist for the White Oak team at Cherokee Creek Boys School. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida and her MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Florida. Nancy continued her studies in Switzerland receiving a postgraduate Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Research, Leadership and Training in Expressive Arts Therapy. In addition, Nancy has completed postgraduate coursework in Marriage and Family Therapy. Nancy is a Board Certified Coach (BCC) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in South Carolina.

Nancy has spent over 25 years supporting adults and teens in psychiatric hospitals, the medical healthcare industry and through private practice. She is experienced in marriage and family counseling, program planning and development, and educating and facilitating groups.

Nancy is an experienced motivational speaker and is a coach for The Center for Non-Profit Coaching – helping non-profit professionals increase their capacity for leadership and service. She facilitates Transformational Presence Leadership Coaching to groups and individuals. Nancy has additional experience coaching individuals, families and teens using Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets model.

With all these qualifications, perhaps her most noted accomplishment is successfully raising two sons! Nancy is a gift for Cherokee Creek and the White Oak team!

Nancy's Middle School Story

“I grew up in a Navy family. From 6th grade to 10th grade, I attended five different schools. My involvement in Girl Scouts, church and competitive swimming made changing schools and meeting new friends easier. I loved Girl Scouts. The meetings, projects, achievements and camping introduced me to a variety of people and interests. My favorite activities were “snipe hunts” and telling ghost stories around the campfire to younger scouts. I would place a flashlight under my chin for a scary effect and delighted in telling frightening, slow-moving stories that captivated imaginations and ended with screams! One time some of us followed the ghost story with a joke worthy of cinematic acclaim! We waited until the girls were asleep, then, with amazing stealth, we snuck in and put glitter on them followed by stomping on ketchup packets to look like blood was everywhere Let’s just say that the prank produced the intended results … and the trickster in me continues.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Jane Barker | MS, LCSW | Full-Time Therapist

Jane Barker

MS, LCSW | Full-Time Therapist

Joined CCBS in 2008

Jane’s Bio

Jane Barker is the therapist for the Red Hawks team. She is a Licensed Social Worker in South Carolina and earned her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University. She then received her Master of Social Work from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1990. Jane says she first knew she would be a social worker when she was in Middle School and read the book of the dynamic social reformer, Jane Adams, and her work with Hull House. She believes in Social Work as a powerful tool to help families recognize their gifts and access their own personal internal and external resources.

Much of Jane’s work is influenced by her training in Bowen family systems theory that views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. Her love for family work came from her warm, loving and interesting connections with her personal generational family system… especially the guidance of her her parents and grandmother.

Jane served as an expert witness for the state in cases involving children who are victims of sexual trauma while she worked for our region’s sexual trauma center. She also developed camps for children in crisis to address grief, and camps for children whose parents were victims of homicide. Jane also served on the Child Fatality Committee in Anderson County whose task it was to implement strategies to reduce the number of child fatalities in the upstate of SC.

Jane has a beautiful daughter, Casey, whom she adopted at 9 years old. Jane and Casey have several dogs and cats that they see as extension of their family. Jane loves the natural world and the lessons it offers and has completed two Outward Bound courses. She and Casey enjoy camping and fishing and have explored many of the State Parks of both Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Jane’s Middle School Story

“When I was in middle school, I lived most of the summers with my father’s mother, Granny Barker. A southern summer at Granny’s house was truly a life of fun and adventure. It meant growing “organic” vegetables in the garden with all the cousins and aunts… and sitting under a grand oak tree in cane chairs with corn silk and bean hulls on my skin followed by getting in a “tin tub” with well water drawn fresh from the back porch well. There were long games of Monopoly, hop scotch and hide and seek. And making “frog houses,” fishing at the creek, climbing trees, catching fireflies and listening to the katydids while sitting on the front porch swing. And, of course, summer wasn’t complete without the joy of southern cooking. The small community knew Granny always had plenty to eat. So at meals, there were always visitors from the community who would just stop by for a glass of ice tea or Granny’s famous fried chicken.”

David Ervin, LPC-A / Therapist at Cherokee Creek Boys School

David Ervin

LPC-A | Full-Time Therapist

Joined CCBS in 2024

David's Bio

David joined the CCBS Therapy team at the beginning of 2024. He leads individual and group therapy sessions with the boys several times a week.

He was raised in Advance NC, near Winston-Salem, and moved to Tennessee where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Psychology at Bryan College. After his undergraduate years, he studied Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Richemont University in Chattanooga. He also has a graduate certificate in Trauma, is TF-CBT trained and certified, and has a Certificate in Trauma-focused Therapy specifically for adolescents.

After college, he worked in crisis intervention for two years and then moved to Asheville, where he worked in intensive in-home care before joining the CCBS team.

“Middle school can be one of the hardest times for kids. I see the boys a few times a week, both in groups and individually. I love that we incorporate nature into what we do. We can have a traditional sit-down therapy session or go on a walk or hike and talk things through! And it does my heart good to know and see how much our entire CCBS team cares about the kids.”

A few of the therapy models David frequently uses are: ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), Interpersonal Therapy, Psychodynamics, Solution-Focused Therapy and he is a Licensed Professional Counseling Associate (LPCA).

David said when he was growing up he loved being in the Boy Scouts where he reached the rank of Eagle Scout. “The scouting program gave me my appreciation for the outdoors and the role the environment can play in healing and life. Ever since then, I would be out hiking or kayaking whenever I had the chance. And if I wasn’t outside, I would be watching movies or reading … I especially loved fantasy novels.”

Today in his free time, you can still find David enjoying his childhood hobbies like reading or watching movies, but now he enjoys sharing them with his wife and their baby girl. And he still loves exploring the world by trying new hiking trails and spending time in nature!

David is happy to be on the Cherokee Creek team for several reasons: “I love that the program is based on Truth, Wisdom, Love and Courage, which are four important pieces of a Jungian principle. This allows us to explore archetypes and cultural wisdom (The Medicine Wheel) as a part of ongoing growth and learning. And although therapy and mental health are the main pillars, we also have a great academic program that strikes a wonderful balance.”

“Our beautiful wooded campus at the foothills of the mountains makes it easy to use nature for fun and healing … and, last but not least … I love that CCBS has a transition process to help the boys when they return home. When I worked in crisis / intensive home care, I would see a kid go home and get thrown back into the deep end and not be able to readjust to their old environment. At CCBS, we are committed to involving the family and helping the student get back home in a good way.”

David's Middle School Story

“Middle school was not easy for me. I was bullied throughout grade school, but middle school was probably the climax of my being bullied. I was a nerd who was into bands, fantasy books, comic books, Boy Scouts  and nature. Having dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD did not help my experience either. Many of my teachers were unable to notice me struggling. There were a few that came alongside me and mentored me like my band teacher and the school librarian.

Luckily, I made several good friends who stood by me. I found a passion for advocating for others, which in turn helped me learn to advocate for myself. I’m very thankful for my friends who gave me the support I needed to mature. I understand how important mentorship is for teenage boys. I love working with kids and using nature as a great teacher for boys to learn how to advocate, be kind and be mindful for themselves and others.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Christy Todd | MS, LCPS | Clinical Advisor

Christy Todd

MS, LCPS | Clinical Advisor

Joined CCBS in 2014

Christy's Bio

Christy Todd, MS LPCS, is Cherokee Creek’s Clinical Advisor, supporting staff, students and families in a variety of ways.

Between 2004 — 2010, Christy worked part-time at CCBS, while operating a private practice in the local community of Westminster, SC. During that time, she helped CCBS grow from 12 to 24 students. We were extremely delighted when she returned to the CCBS family in 2013 as a full-time member of our Therapy Team.

Christy grew up in the Chattanooga area. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with an international experience at Swansea University in Wales, UK. Upon completion of her Masters Degree in Educational Psychology, she became a counselor in a long-term residential therapeutic program. Since then, Christy has served in a counseling capacity in a psychiatric hospital for addictions, led a day program for the chronically mentally ill, directed a wilderness program for adjudicated youth, operated a thriving private practice and raised two children.

Christy in a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Supervisor License as well. She specializes in EMDR, Play Therapy / Sand Tray, Experiential Psychotherapy, and CBT.

Christy strongly believes in the practice of service to fulfill one’s self spiritually. She created a local coalition to improve the wellness of the local community by securing a grant to create walking trails and public health education in food deserts and often connects our students with local opportunities in the Westminster area.

“I enjoy being at CCBS and creating the intersection of therapy and wilderness again. I love being a part of a living therapy session in the woods or on the river, where I am doing more than sitting in a chair and listening, but actively engaging in real experiences and lasting change with these young men and their families.”

In her free time, Christy enjoys whitewater kayaking, gardening / beekeeping and attempting to surf whenever she’s at the beach. The past two years, she and her husband have also been experiencing two kids starting college. They live in the mountains near Westminster with their two hound dogs and two outdoor, ever-hunting cats.

Christy's Middle School Story

“I attended middle school at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN, an excellent school with high standards and ‘potato sack’ uniforms. Every year on Valentine’s Day, the rotunda, or entrance gallery, would become filled with bouquets of roses. On the evening prior, I was moping at dinner and shared that I was sad because I did not have a boyfriend and would not be getting roses. The next day, a friend came running up to me, screaming in delight and very excited that ‘Pat’ had sent me roses. Well, ‘Pat’ was a cutie from the boys school and I jumped up and down that I had received a surprise bouquet by this secret admirer. Later that day, I realized that ‘Pat’ was not a secret admirer, but my wonderful, loving step-father (Pat). He had taken what I had said at dinner to heart and ordered the sweet delivery. He is a natural Healer and provided a loving gesture for a teenage girl wanting to fit in and find ‘love.’”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Kathy Taylor

Neurotherapist

Joined CCBS in 2018

Kathy's Bio

Kathy has provided Neurotherapy (Neurofeedback) at Cherokee Creek Boys School since January of 2015. She was inspired to become a Neurotherapist in 2005 after witnessing the benefits her son received from having neurotherapy. With 13 years in the field, and having had a private practice in Oconee County, Kathy now works exclusively at Cherokee Creek as an independent contractor.

Kathy has been a Registered Nurse for 40 years. She went to nursing school on the GI Bill after serving in the USAF. She has decades of experience in pediatric nursing, home health and hospice. Kathy says, “CCBS is the happiest place I’ve ever worked! Getting out of the car in the morning and hearing healthy, happy boys, laughing, playing and seeing their rosy cheeks… it’s just the best!”

Kathy's Middle School Story

“I spent 8 years in a small, parochial school. Afraid of the teachers, I aimed to please with perfectionism in penmanship and keeping the rules. I was shy and lacked confidence socially and academically. I painfully had a new best friend every school year. I nervously bit my nails and persistently suffered from headaches and stomachaches. At home I cried a lot and also endured terrible nightmares. Upon entering the 8th grade in Sept. 1963, I was afraid of growing up and what the future would hold for me.”

“All that changed in the fall of 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. I began watching the evening news. I learned more about the world, politics, Civil Rights and The Beatles. As I discovered my own passions, I felt more confident and excited about life and my future. Awake or asleep, I began dreaming big dreams. By the end of 9th grade I had developed many friendships with girls and boys from my school, other schools, and also through pen pals from around the world. We were united through Beatlemania! I began to define myself, individuate, and really grow socially, academically and emotionally.”

“CCBS is the happiest place I’ve ever worked! Getting out of the car in the morning and hearing healthy, happy boys, laughing, playing and seeing their rosy cheeks … it’s just the best!”

– Kathy | Neurotherapist

PROGRAM DEPARTMENT

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Steve Cornelius | Program Director

Steve Cornelius

Program Director

Joined CCBS in 2015

Steve's Bio

Steve joined the team of Cherokee Creek in August of 2015 and brought along great skills from across the country! He is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College with a degree in Youth Ministry. Steve spent 16 years as a youth pastor. He spent four years in Ft. Myers, FL and then moved from the frying pan to the freezer of northern Wisconsin for 12 more years of work with teens. Along the way, he managed to find time for 11 years of coaching youth volleyball!

Steve joined our team as flex staff and worked second and third shifts as needed. He was then promoted to a floor manager position where he helped to manage and facilitate the daily ins and outs of life at Cherokee Creek.

When not at CCBS, Steve loves spending time with his son, his daughter and his wife of more than 20 years, Sarah. Some of their favorite times together include cooking amazing food for friends and family and taking adventures together … whether near or far.

Steve works with the students and families of CCBS, and enjoys seeing students be stretched to achieve levels of success that they did not believe possible.

Steve's Middle School Story

“Middle school was a difficult time for me to navigate and so I have a great deal of empathy for our boys who are going through those years with us here. I remember I was a Mathlete and in the Academic Bowl, which were competitions among students from all over our county. Those competitions were always fun for me.

I played baseball in the position of shortstop. My most memorable game was the one I rolled my ankle and cracked a bone in my elbow when I fell. I loved being outside and one year we got a huge snow storm for Georgia. We got more than 10 inches of snow. This was a real treat as we ended up being off school for a whole week. The down side of the story is I fell on my knee about 2 hours into playing in the snow and had a piece of metal slice it open, leaving me on the couch for the entire week. Needless to say, middle school involved several broken bones for me.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Sam Haywood | Primary

Sam Haywood

Primary

Joined CCBS in 2015

Sam’s Bio

Sam joined the Cherokee Creek team in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Outdoor Leadership and Education. His first role was in the Treks department where he spent weekends guiding students on weekend adventures and supporting our Family Treks program. Sam grew into the role of serving as the Student and Family Treks Program Manager. His experience working with our students and their families through our Treks program provided a natural transition into the role of Primary for the Chattooga Group.

Sam is a natural leader and goal-setter. He has served as President of the Outdoor Club at Toccoa Falls and carries many safety / rescue certificates including Wilderness First Responder, First-Aid / CPR and Swiftwater Rescue PRO.

Sam’s experiences, travel and adventures have helped shaped him into a fantastic leader at Cherokee Creek. When not at work, you can probably find Sam kayaking rivers around the Southeast or leading a whitewater canoe trip!

Sam’s Middle School Story

“One of my favorite middle school memories is a camping trip with friends, and some of my first outdoor experiences. I remember setting up camp, running through the woods and just being a kid. We spent two nights in the woods on a friend’s property, building campfires, fishing in the pond and just having a good time. This was transformational for me as it started my interest in the outdoors and helped shape me into the outdoorsman I am today.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

Lacey Stone

Program Department Support Staff

Joined CCBS in 2016

Lacey's Bio

Lacey joined the Cherokee Creek team in 2016 and has served a variety of roles: working with our students, engaging with parents and families, facilitating staff training and supporting the program department’s many needs. Lacey’s warm demeanor, natural curiosity, ability to build relationships, and attention to detail and sense for adventure are a great combination for the many ways she supports our students, families and team.

Lacey is an Oconee County native and graduated from North Greenville University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, concentrating in Psychology and Christian Studies. She loves to travel and explore other cultures … and also loves calling Oconee County ‘home’.

Lacey and her husband, Jonathan, enjoy spending time outside hiking, camping, mentoring college students and gardening. Lacey hopes that one day soon her husband will appreciate their cats as much as she does!

Lacey's Middle School Story

“When I was 11, I was part of an organization called ‘People to People’ that supports student travel. I was chosen to be a student ambassador which allowed me to set off on a 2-week adventure with 30 other students to see London and Paris. This was my first international trip and also probably the first time that I experienced being homesick! This trip was a formative experience for me and helped me to learn, at a very young age, to appreciate other cultures, be curious and know the value of traveling and exploring.“

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Will Volstad | Primary

Will Volstad

Primary

Joined CCBS in 2018

Will's Bio

Will started his journey at Cherokee Creek in the fall of 2018. Prior to becoming the Primary for the Currahee group, he served as flex staff, Trek Mentor, Trek Lead Instructor and Trek Program Manager. These experiences have offered Will great growth in leadership as well as opportunities to support our students and community in a variety of ways.

Will was born in Columbia, SC and moved shortly after that to Russia. Will lived in Southern Russia and Moscow with his family, where they served as missionaries for 15 years. He returned to the states to further his education at Toccoa Falls College where he studied Sustainable Community Development and played soccer for the college.

Will carries certifications for First Aid / CPR, Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue. He is also fluent in Russian and has traveled to 26 countries in his life.

Will married his high school sweetheart in the summer of 2018 and they have two children. When Will is not at work you can find him spending time with his family and three dogs. He also enjoys woodworking, basketball, camping and hiking.

Will's Middle School Story

“Middle school was a fun period of life for me, but came with some challenges. We moved from Russia back to the US for my 6th grade year and I had to make new friends, while trying to learn life back “home”. I had a hard time at first, but through soccer I was able to make a lot of really good friends. Sports were a universal language and through them I was able to find my footing in a new environment. I knew I would be returning to Russia the following year, but was still able to form great friendships … that are strong to this day! I’m thankful that I went through those challenges and was able to overcome them. It taught me to be resilient, but most importantly, to be myself. Sports have continued to be a large part of my life and I have been able to use them as a threshold to many relationships.”

Cherokee Creek Boys School | Therapeutic Boys School | Jessica Peeples | Primary

Jessica Peeples

Primary

Joined CCBS in 2019

Jessica's Bio

Jessica joined the Cherokee Creek team in May of 2019. Prior to becoming the Primary for the Red Hawks, she served as a ‘secondary’ lead for two other student groups on campus. Her experience with supporting our students with afternoon activities, study hall, sports and weekend adventures is instrumental for her role as a Primary.

Jessica grew up in Georgia and is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College with a degree in Outdoor Leadership and Education. She was also employed by Toccoa Falls College working in the maintenance and athletics departments.

“I enjoy working at Cherokee Creek and watching students grow. The families work so hard and it is great to see how they find themselves along the way.”

Outside of work Jessica can be found spending time with her husband, friends and family. They often go hiking, play soccer, rock climbing and find other travel adventures outside!

Jessica's Middle School Story

“My most memorable moments in middle school were playing soccer, hiking, camping and riding dirt bikes. My family has always loved soccer and time playing soccer with my family are some of my favorite sweet memories.

School work always came easy to me, however it left a lot of free time to get into trouble. I loved being the center of attention and often had the “class clown” title. I often got done with my work quickly and would find activities to entertain myself and friends … which may not have been fully supported by my teachers! Through all the troubles of school and negative attention from teachers, the most memorable people were actually the teachers that poured into supporting me. I still remember those teachers to this day!”

Elijah Smith, staff member at Cherokee Creek Boys School

Elijah Smith

Primary

Joined CCBS in 2022

Elijah's Bio

Elijah joined the CCBS team in the summer of 2022 as a Weekend Manager. In 2024 he took on the role of a Primary for the students on the White Oak Team, where he is the main contact for the family for each student on his team. He also coordinates the total care for the student through communication and updates with the therapy, academic and outdoor treks / recreation departments on campus.

Elijah shared that “the role of a Primary can be challenging. We stay on top of coordinating the student’s treatment, communicate ongoing updates, and track their progress. That said, it is also an incredible opportunity to build a relationship with the student and to be a steady part of his life and his growth. I am privileged to walk with these guys as they are going to such lengths to grow and to build trust and relationships with fellow students and their families.”

Elijah grew up in the country outside of Toccoa GA. He was home-schooled which helped accommodate his love of nature. He would spend countless hours outside where he was up for any sport or adventure. Although he was never officially diagnosed as having ADHD, Elijah says, “I had increasing self-awareness of how I processed things. I was fortunate that my upbringing and being home-schooled allowed me to figure out what helped me learn and grow, and what didn’t! I would describe my childhood years as play-and-do and go-and-run!”

Elijah attended Toccoa Falls College where he jokes he signed up for the “7-year plan” … meaning he took breaks to work or have new adventures. He took two breaks to bike across the country, which he describes as the coolest thing he has ever experienced. “The bicycle trips blew the world open for me. They changed my entire life by reminding me to always get out, do, experience, and make life colorful and vibrant.”

He admits he had two primary motives for going to college: He knew a degree in anything would help him get a job and he confessed … “I was there to play soccer … and I knew I would figure the rest of it out.” He did figure it out, eventually graduating with a General Studies Degree with a major concentration in Early Childhood Education and a double minor in Outdoor Leadership and Biblical Studies.

After college, he worked at a therapeutic boarding school for several years where he taught English, Math and Bible Studies. “I enjoyed teaching, but this reaffirmed my instinct that traditional classroom teaching wasn’t my ultimate aspiration.”

After working at the school, he took a job at a furniture store where he did a little bit of everything that it took to run the business, from sales to shipments to delivery! He enjoyed learning new things but he missed working with kids.

When he heard about Cherokee Creek he reached out to find out more and ended up becoming a part of the team.

“I love being a part of the CCBS because we help kids learn and grow in a broad spectrum of healthy ways. The boys enjoy outdoor adventures, nature and sports, as well as, music, bowling, movies, reading, and/or playing games. Our Treks program allows them to participate in adventures like backpacking, climbing and paddling where they have fun, but they are also learning and practicing social skills like teamwork and building relationships. The activities can help them build confidence by trying something they didn’t think they could do.”

“Many boys arrive with challenges and it’s awesome to see them find themselves and their niche, and start to latch on to who they are and who they want to be.”

Elijah and his wife have two boys … and a third one on the way.

Elijah's Middle School Story

“I was home-schooled so I didn’t go to a traditional middle school, but those middle school years were when I discovered my hobbies and passions. I started to figure out who I might be, and who I wanted to be. I learned I was passionate about soccer, music, playing the guitar and being in nature; and I realized I wanted to create a life that had a lot of adventure, as well as relaxation and peaceful moments.

I’m glad at CCBS that I can be a part of that stage in boys’ lives where they begin to define who they, who they want to be and we can help them start down a healthy path to accomplish their goals and enjoy their lives!”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

George Sloan

1st Shift Floor Manager

Joined CCBS in 2015

George's Bio

George joined the Cherokee Creek team in 2015. He holds a PhD in Theology and has a full resume of working in helping professions. George served in the Navy, in youth ministry and has taught school in China. George and his wife Toni are the proud parents of 2 adopted sons and have also supported many foster children over the years. In 1997-1998, George was awarded the Foster Care Review Board Member of the Year by then Governor (and 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner) David Beasley.

George brings a smile and ‘can do’ attitude to work as he manages many of the logistics and supports for our students and team.

George and Toni have recently added ‘grandparents’ to their resume, one of their favorite titles!

George's Middle School Story

“I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. When I was in 7th grade, my school principal and my father were friends. Not everyone thought it was cool that my father was a police officer, and I was bullied a lot for it. One day I made a poor decision (in response to being bullied), and got sent to the principal’s office. The principal then called the police station to contact my father and asked him to come in for a meeting. Considering I was trying to avoid being known as ‘the police officer’s son’ this made things worse when he showed up in his patrol car for the meeting. Part of my consequence from my father was to walk the 1.5 miles home from school that day, giving me more time to think about my actions. It’s hard to know what was worse: being bullied or having my police officer father called when I was in trouble.”

CCBS Founders, Beth and Ron Black

The CCBS Logo

The History Behind the Logo

A Walk Down CCBS Memory Lane

The Quest for a Logo

Our Founder, Beth Black, was on the opening team for Walt Disney World in Florida. She spent 10 years making Disney magic and training the team how to do the same.

Years later, when she decided to move forward with CCBS, she knew that the school needed to clearly define its mission and what makes it different so the right students and families could find their way to the school. And that included having a logo … an image that would represent the feeling of the school. So she picked up the phone and called Jim Cooper.

Jim was an artist and graphic designer for 25 years at Walt Disney World, who now has his own art business, Twist Top Graphics. At Disney, Jim created many important logos and images, including the EPCOT logo and the opening brochure for Euro Disney.

We went to Orlando to thank Jim for being an important part of our 20+ years and we asked him about designing the CCBS logo.

Jim Cooper, Logo Designer

Jim, how did you get involved with creating the Cherokee Creek Boys School logo?

Beth and I worked together at Disney for many years. One day she called and shared the story of her son’s journey and how a therapeutic boarding school helped him and her family. She had decided to open a school to help other boys and families have the support and care they needed. She said nature and outdoor activities would be a big part of helping the boys learn, grow, and move forward in a good direction. And, it would be a “small school with a big heart.”

Where did you start? What did you picture as the image for the logo and why?

I realized the school would require the boys to do hard work, so I thought if I was a boy coming to CCBS, I would want to know it would also be fun. I started by selecting an image that represented having fun in nature and moving forward.

Since the word “Creek” was in the name, I chose the image of two boys paddling forward peacefully in a canoe in the great outdoors.

And, with the word “Cherokee” in the name, I included a subtle connection to the Native American heritage of the area. The canoe is sitting on top of a dark blue triangle, which represents water and subtly invokes the image of an arrowhead. I also added the sun behind the canoe to bring light into the background and hopefully into their journeys.

During the process, I thought about growing up as a kid who loved art. I fondly remember teachers who believed in me and encouraged me to do what I loved and felt passionate about. I wanted the boys to feel like their journeys at Cherokee Creek would help them be their true selves and create a life that they enjoyed.

Thank you, Jim, for being an important part of helping boys and their families for 20 years!

“An amazing school with a true mission to guide boys towards positive life paths and run by incredible staff!”

– KH | Mother