By Corey Thompson

Henry County Public Schools have commenced the 2019-2020 school year. The county is proud to continue to be a “one for one” school system; meaning that every student who is enrolled has a personal electronic device assigned to them. Mostly, the devices are I-Pads, and the students generally use them for homework, electronic textbooks, and personal reading.

“Reading is a huge push for us,” said Monica Hatchett, Director of Communications & Organizational Learning. “Every Friday the teachers encourage students to download books onto their devices to read over the weekend.” All of the devices are equipped with a free application that provides the students with hundreds of titles in almost every genre that can be downloaded for free.

Unlike the technology policy and emphasis on reading, new to several schools this year is the PBIS system. It stands for positive behavior interventions and support. The system utilizes the recognition and rewarding of positive behaviors in order to reinforce and normalize those types of behaviors.

“You can still get punished for breaking the rules,” says Hatchett, “but now students can receive positive referrals to the office too.” Positive behavior can be rewarded with coupons for snacks in the cafeteria, extra credit on grades or assignments, or by other appropriate means.

The system was integrated into Laurel Park Middle School in 2017. It then expanded into Rich Acres Elementary School and Magna Vista High School last year. Currently, all schools in the Henry County system are utilizing a PBIS integrated system.

Another new addition to the school system is the Career Academy’s partnership with Nationwide homes. The company is providing access to modular homes for construction and design training. Students at the Academy now have access to hand on equipment and materials.

Overall, Henry County Public Schools are operating as usual. The students received a few surprises in the form of new sports uniforms and equipment for select schools and a visit from a WDBJ weatherman to every school. With all but one school being accredited, the administration has a positive outlook for this academic year, Hatchett said.