Berman takes his next step


Berman makes sure that all students are recognized for their accomplishments in the school. To show the students’ accolade, he posts newspaper articles on the wall, hangs pictures of athletes on the walls to show their success, hangs boards for academic accomplishments outside the lunchroom, and broadcasts exciting news on the school marquis outside the school.

Elliott Berman’s transition from the school systems of Florida, to Cherokee County, Georgia, was marked by a rural experience. Upon his arrival at Sequoyah, he learned that graduation had to be held in the stadium early in the morning, as the warm, spring day went on, the smell of chicken fertilizer from Cagle’s Dairy would fill the air with an uncomfortable stench, ruining the day for all involved. This is just one interesting story out of the 54 year career of Principal Berman.  

Berman is finally seeing this journey in his life come to an end. He started his teaching career in 1964 as a U.S. history and government teacher at North Miami High School. He also taught civics for two years before becoming a guidance counselor.  

“I really wanted to do something meaningful that would contribute to the kids’ quality of life and kids being successful, so I thought that [teaching] would be a good thing to do,” Berman said. 

Berman became an assistant principal in 1971, and he became principal in 1979 at Henry Filer Junior High School in Florida. He retired in Florida in 2003 before moving to Georgia to be closer to his family. 

“We wanted to move closer to our kids and our grandkids,” Berman said. “I have a daughter who lives up here, and we liked coming to North Georgia because of the change in seasons.” 

After moving to Georgia, Berman realized that he wanted to get back to work.  

“We ended up moving to North Georgia, and I did not want to sit around and do nothing,” Berman said. “So, I went around to different superintendents to see if they had any openings. They had an opening for an assistant principal at Etowah, so, in the 2003-2004 school year, I was an assistant principal at Etowah and then became a Principal here in 2004.”  

Rhonda Higgins, secretary to Berman, has many funny stories with Berman, but one sticks out in particular. 

“He once hurt his shoulder running the flag for the cheerleaders at a football game,” Higgins said. “He could not put his socks on, so I had to put his socks on for him that morning, which was a pretty funny memory.”  

Over the past 14 years, Berman has enjoyed the school community and watching each area of the school succeed. 

“[My favorite part of being principal] is interacting with the kids and the teachers, celebrating the students’ and teachers’ success, and seeing the accolades that the students win on the athletic field, in the academics and the arts,” Berman said.  

While he truly cares about every student at the school, he is also family oriented.  

“I will remember him for being very caring. His philosophy has always been that family comes first, so if there was ever a situation with a family member, that always came first,” Higgins said. “I am truly going to miss him when he retires.”  

Berman takes pride in making sure that the school remains among the best.  

“[My most proud accomplishment is] making sure that Sequoyah is one of the top high schools in the United States,” Berman said.  

He has made sure of keeping Sequoyah a high ranked academic school by being named a National Blue Ribbon school and a Goergia school of excellence. While he is proud of Sequoyah academically, he is also proud of the athletic and arts programs at the school.  

“We have won many state championships, in athletics, and the success of our other teams and organizations at a state level, such as the literary team and the debate team,” Berman said. 

Berman tries to stay up-to-date on all sports by communicating with the students whenever he can. Kristina Friedrichs, a senior who is a member of the swim team, appreciates Berman’s active interest in her sport.  

“Mr. Berman has supported me as an athlete by staying in the loop and asking about how swim is going, how my meets are, and how the team has been performing when he sees me in the hallway,” Friedrichs said. “I think it’s really great that he’s able to keep up with each of the sports as multiple ones are going on all at the same time.” 

Berman enjoys congratulating the achievements of the students at Sequoyah by displaying awards in the hallways and announcing them as part of the morning news.   

“Each year, if you receive accolades for your sport such as All-County or All-State, he posts our pictures in the halls that has all of the accolades that we have received on it, which is a really cool way to let the athletes know that they are recognized within the school for their hard work and achievements that they have reached for themselves and the school,” Friedrichs said. “Also, when you get mentioned in the county newspaper for anything, he will cut out the article and post it on the walls outside of the attendance office. I think that it is very great that Mr. Berman does this, because it is a way to let everyone know that they are recognized in the school and community, and I think that it really brings everyone together.”  

Dianne Butterworth retired from Sequoyah last year, and she was an assistant principal. She worked with Berman from the moment he became principal, and she also has many fond experiences with him. 

“My fondest memories with Mr. Berman were all the sporting events and other student activities we attended together over the years,” Butterworth said. “He truly believed in supporting our students both in and outside of the classroom.  It was always exciting to watch our students work hard as a team or an individual to win recognition for both themselves and their school.” 

Butterworth also has had many funny times with Berman while working together. 

“We had lots of hilarious times, but one of the funniest memories I have is the time he and I got lost in the basement of First Baptist Woodstock,” Butterworth said.  “We had gone to the football banquet there, and, somehow, when we tried to leave, we must have taken a wrong turn. We wandered around through deserted hallways for about 15 minutes.  We finally decided to open one of the outside doors that said an alarm would sound if opened.  We knew how embarrassed we were going to be when everyone realized we set off the alarm, but we were desperate!  We opened the door very carefully, but for some reason, the alarm did not sound!  We laughed all the way out to the parking lot thinking about how lucky we were that the alarms were off!” 

After retiring, Berman plans to adventure and spend quality time with family. 

“I plan to do some traveling and volunteer work, and just enjoy life with my wife and my grandkids.” 

Although he has enjoyed his years at Sequoyah, Berman has decided to say goodbye and good luck to every person tied to Sequoyah.  

“It was a great run and it has been a wonderful experience being at Sequoyah these 14 years that I will always cherish and remember,” Berman said. “I look forward to reading about Sequoyah’s continued accomplishments.” 

Just as graduation has moved to First Baptist, and Cagle’s Dairy no longer exists, it is now time for Sequoyah to openly accept its next principal and bid a sweet farewell to our current principal.