Rain to Drain Workshops Introduce Teachers to HCWA Operations
When several thousand Henry County School teachers kicked off the 2017-18 school year earlier this month, a handful did so with a better idea of how to use the resources of the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) to bring the classroom to life.
Approximately 20 Henry County teachers joined the HCWA for the first annual “Rain to Drain” water resources workshop this summer, over the course of four days in June. The event is the manifestation of the ongoing partnership between the HCWA, Henry County Schools, and Henry County Stormwater, to enhance public education in the protection and preservation of natural resources.
During the four-day event, Henry County teachers toured the HCWA Tussahaw Water Treatment Plant, the Walnut Creek Water Reclamation Facility, the HCWA Engineering Facility, and the HCWA Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center. In addition, each day the teachers participated in activities that they could translate into lessons for their students at these respective HCWA facilities.
While touring the Tussahaw Water Treatment Plant, educators learned about the Authority’s work as a U.S. EPA WaterSense Promotional Partner. In doing so, the HCWA Tussahaw Plant staff provided tips on water conservation for teachers to share with students, in addition to details about the water production and distribution processes.
On day two, when teachers toured the HCWA Walnut Creek Plant, they were provided with details of the Authority’s Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) education program. The lesson the Authority hopes to pass on to Henry County teachers and students is the importance of not pouring FOG down the drain, in addition to the proper disposal of non-dispersible items such as “flushable” wet wipes.
The third day of Rain to Drain Tours for Henry County teachers included a trip to the HCWA Engineering & Technology Division, where they were exposed to lessons about water meters, in addition to learning how the Authority’s staff uses advanced technology to read more than 75,000 meters each month.
Teachers looking for ideas to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula to life found plenty of examples at the HCWA Engineering Building, from the design and installation of water and sewer infrastructure to the use of GIS Mapping and Leak Detection technologies.
On the final day of HCWA tours for Henry County educators, guests received an up-close look at the public amenities of the Cubihatcha Center in Locust Grove. Teachers also experienced demonstrations in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Training, with insights on how to monitor the health of local streams and waterways.
At the conclusion of the Rain to Drain Workshops, Henry County teachers left with an open invitation to use HCWA facilities and employees as resources for experiential learning. Those 20 or so teachers and administrators who participated say they will take advantage of these resources that can assist them in teaching practically any subject for any age student.
“This event was inspiring and eye opening, unlocking an unknown door for teachers to explore the things they didn’t know Henry County has,” says Heather Toliver, Science Teacher on Special Assignment with the Henry County Board of Education, who gave the Rain to Drain Workshops a perfect 10 rating. “Every subject and all content areas are covered (by visiting HCWA sites and operations), and it’s all relevant to learning. Plus, as teachers, we have the opportunity to not only educate and inform, but raise awareness among students and build connections between them and their community and environment.”
Henry County teachers not only have access to HCWA facilities, but Authority employees are willing to help connect what they do as water professionals to what is taught in the classroom.
“As teachers, we must tie it all together so it integrates naturally, but the Water Authority does that for us,” adds Jennifer Burton. “We have everything we need right here (at HCWA facilities) to get students excited about science.”
Chris Wood, Ph.D.