Making a Difference: Dr. Henry Webb
Open to Opportunities
For Dr. Henry Webb, Floyd County Schools’ superintendent, there are no challenges, only opportunities, for the students under his purview.
Webb has led Floyd County, a mountain district beset by poverty, to become one of the top districts in the state. Key to closing the achievement gap, he says, is attitude.
“The research is clear that students dealing with poverty have different ‘opportunities’ than other students in other places,” he said, explaining that he prefers that terminology over “problems” or “challenges.”
“KET’s resources are essential, and they have always been very cost-effective — and it’s quality. If we truly, truly care about our kids, we will have high expectations and give them the tools they need to be successful,” he said.
Technology & Resources
Education is changing, Webb notes, and the district strongly believes that technology is an essential tool to enhance instruction. And when used appropriately, it will take classrooms to new levels of learning for all students.
“We’ve made a significant investment in technology,” Webb notes. Currently, 2,000 students in Floyd County are equipped with laptops and a backpack of ancillary materials — and there are plans to have them in the hands of every student in grades 5 through 12 within two years.
Instructional materials provided by KET include PBS LearningMedia, which contains high-quality classroom and professional development resources from KET and its public media partners. Teachers have access to videos, lesson plans, and more on every subject for all grade levels.
“And every time we need help, KET comes immediately, there’s not a turnaround time of six to eight months,” he added. “Having partnerships like KET is essential to making sure our students become college and career-ready.”
“In our summer academy,” he continued, “there is professional development specifically on electronic devices for instruction in the classroom and for software and other resources to help use them. And that’s where we are really going to the next level in our school system,” he said.
And at that professional development training, KET plays a prominent role. Few partners, he said, are more important to teachers and students in Floyd County than KET and the education and technology resources it provides.
“We have about 300 teachers and many of the sessions are led by our outstanding teachers here in Floyd County, but our outside collaborative partners also come in [including] KET — which has been an integral part of that,” he said.
“KET comes to our academy and trains us on the various products you offer, making sure that our teachers are fully aware of the resources KET has. I visit schools a lot, and I see a lot of videos, a lot of video clips. I see teachers are using KET resources regularly.”
Research shows that early childhood education is crucial for determining a child’s later success in school — and Webb says increased funding augmented by KET’s resources has helped Floyd County make enormous strides in that area as well.
“The work KET has done has helped us raise our percentages of children who are kindergarten-ready,” he said. “Right now, it’s at about 80 percent, and the state average is 55 percent.”