Harvest continues support of area K-12 education

September 28, 2015

The Harvest Foundation continues its support of education in Martinsville and Henry County by approving a three-year grant for $1.8 million to support high-quality professional development for area teachers.
“A high-quality education starts with highly trained educators. There’s a large body of research that says the most significant factor in student achievement is the teacher and the quality of that teacher,” said DeWitt House, a program officer with Harvest Foundation. “I feel like our investment in developing teachers is something that we’ve (Harvest Foundation) been consistent with and something we want to continue.”

The funding is allotted to support professional development for instructors in Henry County Public Schools (HCPS), Martinsville City Public Schools (MCPS) and Carlisle School.

“Carlisle School appreciates that the Harvest Foundation continues to help fund professional development for its outstanding faculty,” said Tommy Hudgins, head of Carlisle School. "Our partnership with Harvest is critical ... to our efforts to partner with other organizations in this community. It helps that they recognize that a first-rate independent college prepatory school is crucial to MHC's continuing transition to a new economy."

House said each school system is responsible for designing and implementing its own professional development plans. "They do their own needs assessment and develop action plans for their respective school divisions," House said.

Throughout the grant, Harvest monitors growth and progress toward objectives established by the school systems. The MAP (Measuring Academic Progress) assessment tool will be used in HCPS and in Carlisle School to measure progress of students, and the i-Ready assessment tool will be used in MCPS.

Dr. Jared Cotton, superintendent of HCPS, said the school system is honored to partner with Harvest Foundation as they work toward the common goal of ensuring student success within the community.

"The foundation's generous support allows us to enhance education by providing professional learning opportunities for teachers, and exposing them to best practices which they are able to share with their colleagues," he said. "Teacher participation in training and conferences, as well as support for the National Board Certification process, would not be possible without the Harvest Foundation." 

Through its grant, MCPS is able to produce students with the skills to be successful in post-secondary education in the global economy, according to Angilee Downing, assistant superintendent of instruction for MCPS.

"Through the Harvest grant, we are able to provide professional development for our teachers and staff that otherwise would not be a possibility for our division," Downing said. "Our teachers learn ways to integrate technology, project-based learning and the skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity, which fall under our focus on deeper learning for our students.” 

The K-12 Initiative has brought much success to teachers in the community to grow professionally and be exposed to the best practices across the nation, according to House.

“Investing in professional development for our educators is critical to our area’s economic development in producing that college and career ready student who’s going to enter the workforce," said House. "Preparing our students ties right back to improving the prosperity of our community.”


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