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Henry County School system gets major grant funding


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  Ongoing research, development and implementation of a personalized learning plan for the Henry County School System is getting a financial boost thanks to a well-known source.

  The Next Generation Systems Challenge is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal of assisting school districts with their personalized learning efforts. Henry County was awarded $100,000 last fall in the first phase of the grant, for which the 200 largest school districts in the United States were eligible but only 20 were chosen. Henry County was the only Georgia district selected.

  This money allowed school system officials to undertake a more in-depth study of personalized learning models across the country and develop a comprehensive vision and strategic plan for implementing personalized learning in the district. Parents, principals, teachers and central office staff worked together to develop that plan, according to a spokesperson.

  For the second phase, the school system has recently been awarded $313,000 to give six schools the opportunity to “engage in strategic planning and redesign centered on personalized learning,” officials said. Six other school districts in various states were similarly funded.

  “We are appreciative of the support given through this grant from the Gates Foundation,” said Superintendent Rodney Bowler. “The work our district has embarked on resonates with what the Foundation sought through their grant selection process; a district focusing on providing relevance and rigor for its students through a relational and personalized approach. The opportunities the grant will afford our district will help us further uphold our mission of ensuring success for each student. Our school community stands to benefit greatly from the support this grant will provide in our efforts of personalizing learning.”

  Through Henry County Schools’ application and selection process, schools in the district had an opportunity to be a part of the inaugural group of schools tasked with being the torchbearers; other schools will start the same process in a tiered rollout over the next five years. The six schools were chosen by a review panel and will begin their own research, visioning and strategic planning process during the 2014-15 school year.  Their goal is to open the 2015-16 school year with unique learning models aimed at personalizing education for their learners.

   The schools selected for the district launch are Luella High, Luella Middle, Locust Grove Middle, Henry County Middle, Hampton Middle and Hampton High.

  Hampton High School will open its doors during its first school year with significant elements of a personalized learning school in place. The research and development has been underway for this school since ground was broken in 2012.

  To gain feedback and help answer any questions teachers, parents, and community members at-large, Henry County Schools has held informational sessions for the community and will continue to host such sessions regularly until the start of the 2015-16 school year.

  Henry County Schools’ vision for personalized learning is that learners must play an active role and be given significant choice related to what, when, where, and how they learn.  Learners must be active, self-regulated participants in the development and design of their learning and should be invested in the creation of their learning plans based on their interests, strengths, passions, and aspirations.

  For more information, visit



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