HCS Board of Education Meeting - October 11, 2021

Posted by HCS Communications | STORYLab on 10/15/2021

October Celebrations

October is a busy month in the world of education as it relates to celebrations, and several groups were recognized for their day, week, or month-long celebration.  Principals, bus drivers, school nutrition workers, and custodians all were celebrated in the month of October.  This month also saw Hispanic Heritage Month, School Bus Safety Week, and Red Ribbon Week all recognized.  Both employees and students alike took time this month to share in these celebrations and let our employees know how much they are appreciated while also honoring the special occasions around culture and safety.
Principals Month

Superintendent’s Welcome

COVID-19 Impact in HCS
Henry County Schools started the school year with doors open and masks strongly encouraged to ensure that students could get back to a familiar on-campus learning experience and they could do so in a safe way.  But prior to the school year even starting, district officials updated the COVID-19 Playbook and added a Continuum of Multi-Layered Mitigation Strategies which outlined various steps of protection for students and staff on campus relative to the impact of COVID-19 in our community and on our campuses.  Level 1 on this Continuum was the lightest of the levels and represented minimal impact in the schools, while Level 5 represented the most serious of impacts in our district. 

Superintendent Davis reported to the board during October that the impact of COVID-19 around the start of school was so impactful that it required quick movement to Level 4 and a return to a mask requirement.  During that time, the impact on students, staff, and families was difficult, but the continuum developed to support on-campus learning worked as designed and kept the district from having to shut down every school.  Instead, targeted responses minimized the interruptions to classes, halls, grades, and only a few schools in a few instances.  Overall, learning was minimally disrupted for on-campus learners, and the district was able to avoid a blanket response to one of the worst surges experienced during the pandemic.

Superintendent Davis’ report showed both the community and school district declining metrics in the number of COVID-19 cases which provided hope that our district could start to move lower on the levels of the continuum and ease some of the mitigation efforts.  It was one week later that the district moved from Level 4 down to Level 3 and once again made masks strongly encouraged as opposed to required in addition to other mitigation efforts being eased.  The district will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions and adjust the levels on the continuum as allowable. To view her report, click here.
COVID Level Plan

2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan

Strategic Planning Re-Launch and Refresher
Superintendent Davis shared a report before the board and meeting attendees that brought the Henry County Schools Five-Year Strategic Plan back at the forefront of the community’s mind.  The journey to develop the strategic plan really started back in mid-2019 as board members began to have deep discussions about how they would best develop the strategic plan to guide the district’s work over a five-year period.  From thousands of voices came a community-inspired plan that is full of the hopes, dreams, and aspirations stakeholders shared around what they saw as being an exceptional educational experience for current and future students in the years to come.

Members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet team, along with board members are spreading out in the district once again to share the current work and future plans for the community-inspired plan that was formed after months of presentations and discussions in all corners and sectors of the county.  From school council and faculty meetings to community organizations and government agencies, the voices that had a part in shaping the plan are now seeing the overall focus of the plan and how it will keep Henry County Schools as a great example for other districts to follow.

The plan and reports provided to the board will always be available on the district’s website at www.InPursuitofExceptional.com.  To see Superintendent Davis’ report, click here.
Strat Plan 1  Strat Plan 2

Core Business of Student Learning

Ensuring the Quality and Effectiveness of our Core Business
Chief Learning & Performance Officer Melissa Morse and Chief School Leadership Officer Kirk Shrum teamed up to provide a report to the board on the outstanding outcomes that are being realized thanks to the board’s foundational reform policies and accompanying regulations built around the board’s core business of student learning.  Policy BAB – Henry’s Plan of Action is the reform policy from which all other reform policies emanate, and there are six more policies to ensure the highest levels of students success ranging from how we acquire and use resources in Henry to advancing opportunity, access, and outcomes for all students with the accountability of it all expected.

During this report, Morse and Shrum shared two great examples of the board’s policies having direct and positive impacts on student learning as witnessed through early literacy and high school algebra.

Early Literacy Model

This program is in its fourth year of implementation.  Through the board-approved acquisition of phonics resources K-2 and a model, or system, to address explicit phonics instruction, the model was designed and implemented, and now we are seeing over 80 percent of our 3rd graders reading at or above grade level.  This is a strong indicator of future success for these students in school.
Early Literacy

High School Algebra

Algebra I is the first math course most students take in the 9th grade and it is the gateway to graduation and all of the opportunities we want our students to have. In Henry County, it is an area where our students struggle to be successful with under 30% of students in the last three years performing at the proficient or above level on the end-of-course test.  The district is taking the model of success from the Early Literacy Model and applying it to Algebra I to see similar achievement levels.  While the approach for this high school course is still relatively new, there is progress still being made with an eye on some early data for growth being available at the end of the semester.

Mr. Shrum then took to the podium to detail and summarize the existing and extensive partnership components between district and school leaders to ensure the greatest levels of student growth:

  • Built with the understanding that the principal is the key lever for school improvement.
  • The District builds systems and creates the conditions for schools to be successful, the principal implements systems for the teacher to be successful and the teacher implements classroom systems for student success.
  • Established a culture of collaboration, transparency, and trust.
  • Reciprocal feedback strengthens the instructional model and principal practice.
  • Serves to inform the coaching and development cycle between the school leader and their supervisor.

 9th Grade Math

Operational Effectiveness

The following agenda items were either heard during the informational items portion of the study session or approved as a part of the business items for the evening meeting’s formal actions:

  • Board Meeting Time & Place for 2022 – The board unanimously approved the list of dates/times and locations for all regular meetings in 2022.  That information can be found by clicking here
  • Board of Education Governance Training Plan – The board unanimously the 2021-22 Board Governance Training Plan.  You can find the plan by clicking here
  • ESPLOST VI – DHS Expansion Project – The board unanimously approved the apparent low bidder of Swofford Construction to construct the first project of many from ESPLOST VI, the Dutchtown High School expansion project.  The agreed-to bid was just over $6.5 million.
  • 2022 Graduation Ceremony Contracts – The board unanimously approved the contract for graduation ceremony components which will be held in May at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  The agreement with Southeast Staging Inc. will provide staging, audio, lighting, and video services.
  • Leadership on the Move


New Position/Location

Former Position/Location

Martha Lynn James

Supervisor – Assessment


Sparkle Smith

Coordinator – Assessment – Learning & Performance

School Improvement Facilitator – Leadership Services

Robyn White

Assistant Principal – Woodland Middle School


Leslie Cheatwood


Coordinator – Student Services

Don Seigler


Executive Director - Operations

Caitlin Sims


Senior Director – Student Services

Valerie Suessmith


Chief Officer – Human Resource Services


Awards and Recognition

  1. Superintendent’s Art Gallery Middle & High School Artists
  2. Georgia Retired Educators Day


From the Board

Dr. Pam Nutt – Dist. 1
Dr. Nutt started by recognizing Locust Grove High School and Unity Grove Elementary for partnering together to have the high school students interact with the elementary kids as mentors.  The Locust Grove High School BETA Club and student government representatives joined together to provide backpacks full of goods/supplies for families in need in the community.  The LGHs Boys Cross Country team was celebrated for being named county champions.  Unity Grove Elementary was recognized for being the recipient of a grant from the Tanger Outlets.  Unity Grove Elementary was also recognized for its staff’s support of one of its custodians.  Quin Kearse from Luella High School was recognized for being named a semifinalist for Teacher of the Year.  The McDonough High School received the sportsmanship award for their athletics department.

Mr. Makenzie McDaniel – Dist. 2
Mr. McDaniel thanked Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church for their partnership with Mt. Carmel Elementary for supporting the staff.  Hampton High School’s volleyball team was congratulated for being the Region 5-AAAA champions for the first time.  Hampton High School’s softball team was also congratulated for their region championship.  Alexis Stovall from Hampton Elementary and Jennifer Brown from Hampton Middle School were congratulated for being TOTY semifinalists.  Luella High School basketball players Liv Fuller and Evangelina Davlakou were recognized for their recent collegiate commitments to play basketball.  He also brought attention to the PROBE College Fair at Dutchtown High School.

Mrs. Holly Cobb – Dist. 3
Mrs. Cobb congratulated McDonough High School’s JROTC drill team for hosting a regional competition.  The Union Grove High School girls' cross country team was recognized for being county champions for the 10th time.  Union Grove High School’s TOTY Eileen Boggs was celebrated for being named an HCS TOTY semifinalist.  She congratulated the entire school community for the completion of the first 9 weeks.

Mrs. Sophe Pope – Dist. 4
Mrs. Pope congratulated Walnut Creek Elementary for being chosen as one of eight schools to be part of a national program.  She acknowledged the accomplishment of Pleasant Grove Elementary for their STEM re-certification by the state.  Union Grove Middle School’s boys track team was featured for being county champions.  She also congratulated Vicki Gonzalez from Woodland Elementary for being a TOTY semifinalist.  She acknowledged the employees across the district for their efforts during the first 9 weeks.  She also thanked families for their partnerships.

Mrs. Annette Edwards – Dist. 5
Mrs. Edwards recognized the choirs of Cotton Indian Elementary and Stockbridge Middle School for performing the national anthem at a Braves game this year.  Pleasant Grove Elementary was recognized for its STEM re-certification.  The Dutchtown and Stockbridge High School football game was featured for being the 11Alive sports game of the week.  Dutchtown Middle School’s TOTY Kesha Fuller was recognized for being an HCS TOTY semifinalist.  Mrs. Edwards also acknowledged the completion of the first 9 weeks of school.

Mary Elizabeth Davis – Superintendent
Supt. Davis first featured Union Grove Middle Schools student Kara Benson was recognized for making jewelry to give to healthcare workers. She also welcomed all new leaders to the district.