New tech academy changing the learning environment in Henry County

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HENRY CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Education leaders are putting students in the drivers seat.

Bassett High School just opened the newly renovated Bengal Tech Academy

It offers a different classroom and learning style located right within the high school.

WDBJ7's Danielle Staub was there Tuesday and spoke to students about how this is making a big difference in Henry County.

Both Henry County High Schools now have a school within a school. A place, leaders say, where students have a collaborative project-based learning environment to better prepared themselves for the real world.

Students tell WDBJ7 it took a little adjusting but they are really excited.

The chatter in the Bengal Tech classroom is supposed to be a little louder than most.

Students who chose to be involved with the new Bengal Tech Academy at Bassett High School say they wanted to better prepare themselves for college.

"Yeah, because we have to do it ourselves. They don't stand up there and teach us. We go look up the information with our group members and stuff like that and we all learn together, so it's just a different experience," Student Kyeem Dicks said.

Bengal Tech is a new option for students which provides group and project-based learning. There are multiple teachers to a class.

"It's a big transition coming from structured classes having to teach yourself in a way," Student Sydney Clark said.

Clark says it hasn't been the easiest first two months of the school year but she's adjusting.

"I want to be more responsible for what I do. And individualized, know how to work with the group but know how to take what I've learned and share it too," Clark said.

The director of Bengal Tech says working in groups and learning the technology helps make them globally competitive.

"Builds upon accountability and what we refer to as agency having kids take an active role in their learning," Director Franketta Tatum said.

Classes inside the new Bengal Tech started this week.

"Separate into groups and really take their learning into their own hands. And we are seeing them truly just kind of flourish and in this new environment to complement that," Teacher Dylan Johnson said.

They plan to accept up to 100 students in each grade.

A tech academy is already in place at Magna Vista High School.

Leaders say this is a popular education trend nationwide, however Henry County is the only district in the commonwealth giving students this opportunity.