Superintendents optimistic as year starts

August 22, 2016
Martinsville Bulletin

Warrior Tech Academy

Henry County Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton and Martinsville City Public Schools Interim Superintendent Zeb Talley said the 2016-17 school year is off to a great start.

Both superintendents visited schools in their districts during the first week of classes.

“We saw a lot of great things. I love seeing the young people, the excitement in their eyes and the teachers’ eyes. We’re glad to have them back,” Talley said. “We feel like some new, good things are going to happen.”

“The new year is an opportunity for a new start with new possibilities,” Cotton said. “There was a sense of excitement in the air, and teachers were excited to meet their new students. The students were in good spirits and several commented that they really like their new teacher.”

While Martinsville schools and the City Council have disagreed in the past on various issues, Talley said that those times are behind the school district and local government.

“Everyone’s working together. What we’re experiencing right now is a combination of City Council, School Board, administrators, parents, teachers and students all working in conjunction with each other,” Talley said.

Both school system heads beamed about innovations coming to their locales.

“We have implemented a new digital program called MyOn that provides students with easy access to digital books. Students can download these at school and they don’t have to have internet access at home to utilize this resource. We are putting several efforts in place to help students read more often and develop a genuine love for reading,” Cotton said.

The HCPS Superintendent also spoke of the upcoming Bengal Tech Academy at Bassett High School.

“This is the second New Tech Network School in Virginia – Magna Vista’s Warrior Tech was the first – and provides students with an integrated curriculum that is focused on project-based learning around relevant topics,” Cotton said.

Talley expressed excitement and hope for the future of Martinsville City Public Schools, also noting the school system’s incorporation of project-based learning initiatives.

“We’re training our students to think outside the box. We’re implementing PBL, or project-based learning, technology, STEM, and ways that students can learn outside of the normal, traditional classroom. We’re not as orthodox as what you’ve seen before,” Talley said. “Our students deserve the best education possible.”

Both Cotton and Talley commented on how communities with a strong educational system bring good jobs to an area.

“The high quality school division is essential to economic development. One of the first things future business leaders and employees ask about is the quality of the local school divisions. Certainly, this has an impact on whether they want to invest or live in our community,” Dr. Cotton said.

Talley spoke of pushing MCPS to new educational heights.

“We’re focused on getting all of our schools accredited,” Dr. Talley said. “We’ve hit the ground running. People say we’ve set the bar high. We want our children to be in the best position they can be in. It will take everybody to accomplish this goal, and we will accomplish it.”

Off to a splendid start, both the superintendent and interim superintendent felt confident about the new school year.

“This is going to be the best year yet because we are continuing to expand on best practices that we have put into place over the past several years. We have been working toward creating engaging, relevant learning environments for students and we continue to work toward this goal each year,” Cotton said.