Henry County Governments, School System & Civic Organizations Honored by ARC
During a special ceremony on July 10, the Atlanta Regional Commission presented Henry County with a CREATE Community Award for Educational Excellence for its E2: Economics & Education Initiative.
The Atlanta Regional Commission developed the “CREATE Community Awards” in 2004 as a way to recognize local government leadership, excellence and innovation in five categories: Community Involvement and Collaboration, Regional Prosperity and Economic Development, Environmental Sustainability, Application & Innovation in Technology, and Educational Excellence.
Henry County received an award for Educational Excellence, which recognizes local government programs or processes that make education a priority through city/county policies and practices and/or collaboration with educational institutions to affect positive change and quality of life in the community.
“A quality education system affects all of us, whether we have children in school or not” explained Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth ‘B.J.’ Mathis. “I am thrilled that we were recognized for these achievements, but this kind of collaborative, outside the box thinking is going to make Henry County a better place for students, families, and ultimately, for businesses, and that is what is most exciting about the E2 Initiative.”
During the awards presentation, Emerson Bryan, Director of Support Services with the Atlanta Regional Commission, praised all the winners, saying “All of you have looked for ways to say ‘yes’ and move forward, rather than say ‘no’ and offer excuses. You are creating a culture of innovation in your communities.”
The E2: Economics & Education Initiative is a comprehensive community-wide collaborative that was designed to improve and expand educational opportunities for all residents, and thereby elevate what is already a good public school system over the top to become a great public school system. Participants of the 2010 Henry County Intergovernmental Retreat adopted the following education and workforce development goals addressed in the E2 Initiative:
1. Increase High School Graduation Rates
2. Improve Academic Rank Among Top GA School Systems
3. Secure a Technical College / Increase Dual Enrollment
4. Become a Certified Work Ready Community
5. Improve School Readiness
By working to achieve these goals through this initiative, Henry County will be able to affect our community’s economic and social prosperity by cultivating a skilled workforce and assisting in the recruitment and retention of business and industry.
“While many communities can readily identify the challenges faced by their public school system, few have come together in a community collaborative to find solutions to those challenges,” explained Kay Pippin, President of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, which has spearheaded the initiative. “The E2 Task Force brought together leaders from multiple government and civic agencies and businesses who collaborated for months and, in the end, not only identified goals and recommended action steps, but are taking it one step further by assisting our school system in the strategic implementation of the recommendations.”
Pippin also pointed out that the E2 initiative has been accomplished without the help of outside consultants, without any funding sources whatsoever, and solely through the efforts of dedicated and caring volunteers.
Dozens of volunteers, in fact.
As an outcome of the 3rd Annual Henry County Intergovernmental Retreat (August 2010), the
E2 Task Force comprised of over 100 community stakeholders, including civic and business leaders, parents, students and educators, was organized. A Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the Henry County Board of Commissioners, Mayors of our four cities, the Boards of Education, Development Authority, Hospital Authority, Water & Sewerage Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, was also established to guide the work of the Task Force. The Task Force worked for 10 months researching the above referenced goals and identifying specific strategies through which the community, parents and schools could help achieve those goals. These strategies are outlined in the E2 : Economics & Education Action Plan for Education & Workforce Development. A new group of volunteers are now working to implement these strategies.
In fact, a number have already been implemented. The 10-yr. high school graduation rate and standardized test score benchmarks are being achieved. A Communities in Schools program has been established. The School System has opened the Academy for Advanced Studies and is meeting the benchmarks for dual high school/college enrollment. Phase I of the new Southern Crescent Technical College is currently under construction and officials are already working toward Phase II. Henry County was designated a Work Ready Community in 2011, with over 2,300 Work Ready Certificates earned. A survey of businesses has also been completed to identify workforce skills that are needed. In addition, the K-12 mentoring program has been expanded, and many other programs are in the process of being implemented.
A copy of the document is available on the Chamber’s website, www.henrycounty.com under Education.
Cutline 1: Tad Leithead, Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission (far left) presents the ARC CREATE Communities for Educational Excellence to Henry County. Accepting the award, from left to right, were Kay Pippin, President of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, June Wood, Chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, Danny Brown, Chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Elizabeth 'B.J.' Mathis, Henry County Commissio Chairman, Daryl Dotschay, Director of Connecting Henry, Brian Preston, Henry County Commissioner, Dr. Ethan Hildreth, Henry County Schools Superintendent.
Cutline 2: Henry County received the CREATE Community Award for Educational Excellence from the Atlanta Regional Commission.