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School improvements were highlights for Law
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Dr. Jared Cotton (left), Henry County Schools superintendent, presents Rudy Law (center) with a gift. Standing with them is School Board Chairman Joe DeVault. Law is leaving the board after two terms. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rudy Law cited school renovations and upgrades, improved technology and the energy efficiency program as achievements by the Henry County School Board during his eight years as a member.

Law, 52, of Bassett, represented the Blackberry District on the board. He did not seek a third term. He has said government representatives “need to change up from time to time.” His successor, Tom Auker, was sworn in Tuesday night at the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Law said he and Kathy Rogers, who recently left the school board after eight years as Collinsville District representative, “took part in the biggest upgrade and renovation of school facilities since the 1960s.”

According to a January school board document, renovations included Carver (2007); Campbell Court (2008); Drewry Mason (2008); Laurel Park lights and ceilings (2010); Magna Vista High School lights, ceilings and HVAC (2011-2012); and closed one elementary and one support facility in 2010.

Law said renovations included expanding cafeterias, doing away with a lot of mobile classrooms and installing more efficient lighting and heating systems.

He also cited other energy conservation measures by the school division.

In November, Henry County Public Schools was one of three school divisions to receive first-place awards in the Virginia School Boards Association’s Green Schools Challenge. The challenge recognizes implementation of environmental policies and actions that reduce the carbon emissions generated by both the local school division and the community, according to a VSBA news release.

“Since 2008, we have reduced our carbon footprint approximately 1,000 metric tons per year,” Keith Scott, supervisor of facilities for the school division, said in November.

On improvements to technology, Law said, “We’ve worked to integrate technology in the classrooms. We have a nationally acclaimed program.”

Janet Copenhaver, director of technology and innovation for the division, stated in an email: “During the school board time with Mr. (Rudy) Law and Kathy (Rogers), the school division implemented the first and largest digital textbook 1:1 iPad initiative in the state. We upgraded our Wide Area Network to fiber and increased connectivity within our Local Area Networks in every building. We also increased our Internet speed from DS-3 to 100 Metro Ethernet and just last year we upgraded to 200 Metro Ethernet.’

“We have moved some of our information systems to the ‘Cloud,’ including our Student Information System, PowerSchool and our library system, Alexandria,” she wrote. “We have added many additional laptops to each school for instructional use and at the present time have over 4,500 iPads with a 1:1 in grades 3,4, 5 and 6. We also established the first ‘New Tech’ high school in the state, Warrior Tech, at Magna Vista High School.”

She also wrote: “The school division has been asked to present at many local, state and national conferences. The division has hosted several visiting days for other school divisions to come and view our latest technology.”

Another achievement, Law said, was making schools more secure, by such things as restricting access and securing entrances.

In general, he said, “I think Henry County Schools is one of the best kept secrets in the state. We have outstanding school staff.”

As for challenges during his time on the board and ongoing, Law said some schools still need to be renovated, and mobile classrooms need to be done away with.

He also believes more security improvements are needed, such as installing mobile metal detectors. “I believe we have a safe school system, but you don’t know what kids have in their backpacks,” he said.

Another challenge, he said, was tough budget times during the recession.

Asked what he enjoyed most about serving on the school board, Law said: “It’s a very rare thing in life when you have the opportunity to make a change, to steer the rudder for the future of our country. School boards across the country have this opportunity. We are educating kids today for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Asked what he liked least about serving on the school board or the greatest challenge, he said: “Probably the hardest thing is educating the public about our school system ... where we are going, what our plans are. It seems we can’t reach everybody. If you could reach everybody, imagine what we could do.”

In the future, Law, an auctioneer, said he plans to “keep living life and doing what I think is right.”

That includes spending time with his family, traveling and working with Pirate Pug Productions, a partnership he and James Wayland of Ridgeway formed that is producing its first movie, an independent horror film titled “Never Look Back Again.”

Law and his wife of 22 years, Tabatha, have three children, James Law of Collinsville, Jessica Hunt of Bassett and Stephen Hunt of Bassett; and two grandchildren, Brady Dunford, 4, and Scarlett Law, 5.

“I’m not going to say I’m done with politics,” Rudy Law said. “Politics is addictive, man. Most people, if they are 100 percent honest, like the ability to change or influence the future. That’s a big source of pride.”

“If I find something near and dear to my heart, I’m not going to be afraid to speak out on it,” he said.

Law was vice chairman of the school board three years.


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