ROGERSVILLE — As the Review reported in “Hawkins Co. Virtual Academy presents a new opportunity for students”, a rigorous online program became available for students this school year.

The program features the same curriculum found in county brick-and-mortar classrooms, and, as Principal Sharon Lindsey told the Review, is not a “work at your own pace” program.

So far, the program has 35 students enrolled, and 10 of them are new to the county school system. Director of Schools Matt Hixson also noted that 19 of the 35 were set to attend other locations outside of the system before HCVA opened.

“We feel that this is a pretty good start to the pilot program,” he said. “You will see that reflected in our request for an online curriculum because a lot of those numbers are coming in at the elementary and middle school levels, and we did not have an online curriculum in place for them. We did for high school, though. So, there is going to be some cost (for extended online curriculum), but we are far outweighing the cost of that program by the enrollment at this point.”

As part of this curriculum expansion, the BOE approved the purchase of Instruction Contracted Services through Edgenuity that, as the BOE agenda stated, was not to exceed $85,000. This would provide teaching workbooks, webinars, and courses for grades Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

“We did have a few elementary and middle school students who enrolled in the virtual academy, and we did need to secure a curriculum delivery system,” Hixson said. “In the future, if this continues to grow, it is my desire to have our staff teach these courses so that we would not have to contract out. But, at this initial stage and probably for the first several years of our virtual academy, we will need to contract with such agencies to bring in the curriculum for the needed courses.”

He also noted that the allotted $85,000 for this program is a “worst case scenario” figure. He estimated that only a quarter of that figure is actually needed at this point. As aforementioned, the cost of this program is offset by the large number of students enrolled in HCVA. In fact, the revenue generated is set to be more than double the cost of the program.

He also noted that new students can still be enrolled in the program on a case-by-case basis, though he and the HCVA staff prefer enrollments to take place during semester junctures.

YMCA program will begin soonAs the Review reported in “New incentives ensure Hawkins Co. Schools have well-equipped bus drivers”, students who don’t have access to after-school care through Rogersville’s Boys and Girls Club will soon be able to ride a bus to the YMCA after-school program at Church Hill Elementary School. Students from Surgoinsville, Carters Valley, McPheeter’s Bend and Mount Carmel elementary schools will have access to this program.

The program is still in the enrollment phase, but Hixson noted that students will soon be able to take advantage of it.

“The regional director at Mt. Carmel is going to host a parent night for those three feeder schools that can take advantage of the program,” Hixson said. “They are going to make sure that those applications are finalized, answer any questions and walk them through the program. At that point, once we have the finalized enrollment, we will begin bussing.”

He also noted that enrollment numbers had been very strong so far, and there is a possibility that this program could expand to the other end of the county in the future.

“I did meet with two representatives, and they are very willing to partner with Hawkins County in a grant opportunity to potentially get YMCA at the farther end of our county system as well, so that we can have an upper and a lower end,” he said. “This would provide representation and opportunities for our students — many of whom don’t have the resources to go to an after-school program — who are going home by themselves or are reporting to an empty home. We would much rather extend their learning opportunity for a couple hours each day.”

Finalists for student logo contestThe BOE chose two finalists from a pool of 14 student semi-finalists in a contest to create a new logo for Hawkins Co. Schools.

Hixson noted that the students with the top two designs will now be given an opportunity to, “clean up their designs and bring them back for a final vote in October.”

Title I and ESL supervisor Dr. Michelle Harless also noted that the two finalists will receive prizes for their work, but the names of the student finalists have not been released to the public.

“The students were very creative in what they submitted,” Harless said. “The idea is that these drawing represent how they feel about our community, what our community represents, our history and where we’re going in the future. They even wrote about why they made the designs the way that they did.”

BOE heard reports from three area schoolsAs part of a new program that Hixson established, a few principals will give reports of their data from the 2018-2019 school year at each BOE meeting. September’s meeting marked the first of these presentations, with Stephanie Mann reporting on Carters Valley Elementary, Jason Roach reporting on Mooresburg Elementary, and Greg Simpson reporting on Rogersville Middle.

“Beginning in September, I had asked our principals to summarize their data from last year, identify strengths and challenges heading into this year, and showcase their plan for systematic improvement.”

Each school shared their staff and student numbers, demographics, attendance rates, and both strengths and weaknesses of the school.