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Officials impressed with Warrior Tech

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Several officials who toured Warrior Tech Academy on Tuesday indicated they were impressed, they think it will give students real-world skills, will be a showcase and will help economic development.

Members of the Henry County Board of Supervisors and county school board; representatives of New College Institute (NCI), Harvest Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Natural History; other officials; and members of the public toured Warrior Tech after Henry County Public Schools’ opening convocation at Magna Vista High School.

Warrior Tech will be the first New Tech Network (NTN) school in Virginia, and local officials hope it will be a model for other schools.

About 16,000 square feet of space is being renovated. Most of that space formerly was occupied by the school media center, which has been relocated, and two adjacent classrooms are being renovated for phase one of the academy.

It will have two approximately 1,500-square-foot learning labs that each will accommodate up to 50 students. Each lab has a “breakout” room that can accommodate 10-20 students. Warrior Tech also has a large area that students can use for work space. Warrior Tech has a lounge-type area, planning space, director’s office, storage space and a reception area.

Other features include vibrant colors, which stimulate brain activity; internal windows in some areas; floor tile throughout, except in the reception area, which will be carpeted; and features to provide a distinctive entrance.

It will use project-based learning in multidisciplinary classes and problem-based learning in math classes.

Construction of Warrior Tech is running ahead of schedule and officials are hoping the space will be available for use Aug. 19. The 100 ninth-grade students in Warrior Tech will meet in other parts of Magna Vista until construction is completed. The contractor is Clark Brothers Co. Inc. of Stuart.

Warrior Tech, a “school-within-a-school” at Magna Vista, is a STEM academy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Lindsay Favero, academy director, led the tour. In an interview, she said, “We’re absolutely thrilled and look forward to working with students.”

Iriswood District Supervisor Milton Kendall said he thinks Warrior Tech is a good idea and that “it will be a good learning environment.”

Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant said he thinks Warrior Tech is “going to be excellent,” and he commended schools Superintendent Jared Cotton for it being the first New Tech Network school in the state.

Bryant said he thinks Warrior Tech will help this area’s economic development efforts. “This is what industries look for,” he said.

Students will leave Warrior Tech more prepared for the real world, Bryant said. He added that he is excited for the opportunities for students and teachers, and that enthusiastic teachers will pass on their passion to their students.

Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan said education and economic development go hand in hand. Ridgeway District school board member Francis Zehr — a retired teacher and former member of the board of supervisors — made similar remarks.

Buchanan said she believes Warrior Tech will provide a learning environment for students with creative minds.

“This is exciting,” she said of Warrior Tech.

School board Chairman Joe DeVault said he thinks schools throughout the commonwealth will visit Warrior Tech. He also said the school division hopes to expand the concept to Bassett High School.

Leanna Blevins, associate director and chief academic officer for New College Institute, said the Warrior Tech model is similar to the NCI building under construction in the Baldwin Block uptown.

The roughly 50,000-square-foot NCI building will include educational programs that the institute is developing in entrepreneurism, advanced manufacturing and health care technology.

Henry County Public Schools is headed in the right direction with Warrior Tech, she said.

Cotton said business leaders have told school division officials they can’t fill jobs in certain fields because of lack of qualified candidates, and he hopes Warrior Tech will help grow qualified candidates.

Cotton and Magna Vista Principal Gracie Agnew said they expect teaching methods used at Warrior Tech will spread to other teachers at Magna Vista.

 

 
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