By Johnny Jackson
Henry County Schools will have access to nearly $400,000 to help improve its student performance in math and science, according to school officials.
The school district recently announced its receipt of $382,090 in federal funding from the U.S Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership Grant Program, which helps fund professional learning for math and science teachers.
Henry is one of 37 school districts in the state taking part in the grant program, designed to improve the content knowledge of teachers and the performance of students in math and science. Funding is disseminated through the state department of education based on student population and poverty rates.
Over the next two years, the grant will be used to fund training for teachers and administrators in classroom instruction, according to school officials. Educators will receive training in various subject areas, including mathematics and science instruction for third- through fifth-grades, mathematics for sixth- through eighth-grades, and mathematics and Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) for high schoolers.
"The intent of the four teacher cohorts is to develop teacher leaders in standards-based math and science classrooms in Henry County Schools, while fostering collaboration and deeper content knowledge," said Lya Snell, secondary mathematics coordinator.
"[And] the ultimate focus of the administrator cohort," Snell added, "is to deepen our building-level instructional leaders' understanding of how to support the shift to standards-based practices."
To accomplish that goal, the district plans to partner with area higher education institutions to obtain training over the course of the grant program's two-year life span, said Greg Benton, assistant superintendent of learning and teaching services.
Benton said Henry's partnership will include Mercer University and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing. The partnership is one of 25 such partnerships statewide among school districts and post-secondary institutions.
"Partnering in the grant endeavor ... teachers will work with mathematics professors, graduate students, and consultants from Georgia Institute of Technology and Mercer, among others," Benton said.
According to school district Spokeswoman Connie Rutherford, the grant program may affect the following schools which qualify for assistance in their math or science programs: Fairview, Flippen, Hampton, Hickory Flat, Locust Grove, McDonough, Oakland, Pleasant Grove, Woodland, and Wesley Lakes elementary schools.
Rutherford said each qualifying elementary school will have a teacher participant in grades three, four, and five, as well as one special education teacher and administrator.
She said the district's middle and high schools will participate in a Science and Mathematics Institute of Lead Educators, where in math, each school will have a teacher participant in sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grades, as well as one special education teacher and an administrator.
Henry's high schools, she continued, will have four teacher participants - one for Math I, one for Math II, one special education math teacher, and one CTAE teacher - and an administrator.
"This is certainly good news in such lean economic times," said Michael Surma, superintendent of Henry County Schools. "Ensuring success for each student is our focus, and these funds will help provide professional learning for teachers and administrators to enhance standards-based mathematics and science instructional strategies."
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