Return to Headlines

District Announces 2020 Stars of Public Education Giving Even More (GEM) Winner

Nicci Cabaniss had no idea what had been prepared for her around the next corner. Cabaniss, in her fourth year as the bookkeeper at Mossy Creek Elementary School, was being led to a hallway filled earlier Monday morning with congratulatory signs and balloons, students, colleagues, District representatives, and even her husband, Scott.

When Cabaniss turned the corner and saw the spectacle her face told a story of shock and surprise at being named as the 2020 Aiken County Public School District’s Giving Even More (GEM) Award winner.

“This meant a lot to me,” stated Cabaniss after the big surprise. “I was very surprised and I just cannot thank everyone enough. I can’t even talk right now.”

Not only was Cabaniss surprised with balloons, posters, and gifts, but her colleagues at Mossy Creek Elementary also created a congratulatory video which included appearances by her daughter, grandson, and even her former colleagues at West Elementary School in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. 

“Things like this do not happen every day and I just appreciate everyone here so much,” commented Cabaniss. “That was so special to have my daughter and my grandson Easton on the video and the people at West Elementary will always be special to me and they will always be my very good friends. Luckily, my makeup was waterproof.”

Cabaniss says for her, giving even more means going above and beyond your duties and what is expected. It’s something she aspires to each day at Mossy Creek Elementary.

“That’s what I like to do. I like to do more than what’s expected and just help people,” she said.

One of the top moments in her career took place during the Covid-19 shutdown at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Cabaniss designed and planned the school’s teacher parade to be sure that every student’s home was accounted for and visited during the parade.

“It took us over four-and-a-half hours, but we made sure that we went to every student’s house,” stated Cabaniss.

Mossy Creek Elementary School Principal Jeff Matthews says Cabaniss shines in tough times.  

“That was the definition of giving even more right there,” commented Matthews on the meticulous planning for the teacher parade. “I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving for this award. Nicci has taken a big lead in doing a lot of the things that help keep us safe here, like mapping out the cafeteria and placing arrows in the hallways. She likes to be involved and is very creative. When you are having a rough day, she can make you smile.”

The 2020 GEM of the Year Honor Court members, announced in July, included Nicci Cabaniss of Mossy Creek Elementary, Jamie Busbee of Millbrook Elementary School, Brook Byers of Busbee Elementary School, Kimberly Estep of Warrenville Elementary, and Rhonda Norris of North Augusta High School.

The 2020-21 Aiken County Public Schools school-level and District-level Giving Even More (GEM) winners include Sherry Abney (Aiken County Career & Technology Center); Helen Ard-Watson (Wagener-Salley High); Melissa Barrs (North Augusta Elementary); Aisha Bey (Greendale Elementary); Regina Brock (Silver Bluff High); Lorraine Burton (Hammond Hill Elementary); Jamie Busbee (Millbrook Elementary); Brook Byers (Busbee Elementary); Nicci Cabaniss (Mossy Creek Elementary); Becky Carrier (Division of Instruction); Betsy Culler (Graniteville Elementary); Brenda Daniels (Aiken Elementary); Revonda Durham (Center for Innovative Learning); Kimberley Estep (Warrenville Elementary); Toni Fasenmyer (Jefferson Elementary); Debbie Gregory (Division of Administration & Human Resources); Cheryl Harant (South Aiken High School); Nancy Hash (Freedman Early Learning Center); Carla Hightower (Gloverville Elementary School); Donna Hilton (Schofield Middle); Stephanie House (Aiken Scholars Academy); Felicia Key (Ridge Spring-Monetta High); Nikki Kissiah (Chukker Creek Elementary); Pam Lamb (Midland Valley High); Jacqueline McKiever (Ridge Spring-Monetta Middle); Jami Mims (Redcliffe Elementary); Jackie Miller (A.L. Corbett Middle); Jody Morgan (Aiken High); Mary Morgan (North Augusta Middle); Mike Montalbano (Aiken Intermediate); Karen Nine (New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School); Rhonda Norris (North Augusta High School); Sherrie Pitts (Leavelle McCampbell); Tammy Posey (North Aiken Elementary); Sammie Prescott (Clearwater Elementary); Tracy Price (Division of Operations & Student Services); Foris Quattlebaum (J.D. Lever Elementary); Deborah Richardson (Belvedere Elementary); Dorothy Robinson (Kennedy Middle); Holly Sharpe (Oakwood-Windsor Elementary); Julie Spires (Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle); Ethel Smith (Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary); Melissa Smith (East Aiken School of the Arts); Donna Stevens (Paul Knox Middle); Melissa Thomas (Byrd Elementary); Larry Williamson (Jackson STEM Middle Magnet School); and Tonya Wizorek (Division of Finance).

Thank you to our 2020 Stars of Public Education sponsors, including Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Public Education Partners, SRP Federal Credit Union, Security Federal, Rhodes Graduation Services, H.G. Reynolds Construction, Peach State Federal Credit Union, Hunt Insurance & Retirement Services, Economic Development Partnership, East Aiken School of the Arts PTO, Greendale Elementary School PTO, Aiken High Booster Club, J.D. Lever Elementary School PTO, Busbee Elementary School PTO, Jefferson Elementary School PTO, New Ellenton STEAM Middle Magnet School PTO, Schofield Middle School PTO, Silver Bluff High School PTO, and the Hammond Hill Elementary School PTO.


ACPSD Communications Department