Henry County Schools welcomes nearly 400 new teachers

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County School System’s newest teachers have been on the job for just over a week and, judging by the size of their group, the district is continuing to grow significantly.

Henry County Schools Superintendent, Rodney Bowler greets new teachers at last week’s Teacher Induction Program. Special photo

About 400 educators attended last week’s Teacher Induction Program, an annual four-day event for new hires to get acclimated with the school system and continue their professional development. This year’s event was conducted at Henry County High School.

“It was a much bigger group than in past years,” said school system spokesperson Tony Pickett.

The number of new educators on staff is one indicator that more students will be in the county’s classrooms beginning next week.

Projections for this fall put total enrollment at approximately 41,700. That is about a 700-student increase from last year, equal roughly to the size of an elementary school. Accurate enrollment figures typically are not obtained before Labor Day or even later due to the high number of transient families moving in and out of the county.

Another reason for the high number of new hires is the school system’s financial situation, which is much stronger than it was a few years ago. After a cycle of repeated furloughs and other budget cuts due to the economic downturn, this year’s budget has a pay raise for all employees as well as zero furlough days. It also allowed for an increase in staff to accommodate the growing student body.

A number of the attendees at the Teacher Induction Program will be facing students next week for the first time as full-time teachers, while others are experienced educators who have moved to the Henry County School System from other districts.

“We’ve definitely employed a mix of first-time and veteran teachers,” said Pickett.

The Teacher Induction Program, which wrapped up last Thursday, consisted of several sessions designed to help those in attendance get the year off to a good start. It gave school system officials an opportunity to take care of many employment-related issues with new hires while also giving them a detailed look at how things are done in Henry County schools.

“It helps them understand the culture of our system, our mission and vision, and how we do things,” said Pickett.

New teachers spent last Friday working in their classrooms. All school system employees are on the job this week for pre-planning.