SCHS program joins Collins with national certification

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PLTW courses receive recognition

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County High School’s Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences program received national certification this week.

The program, which started at SCHS in 2010, offers courses in biomedical sciences, human body systems, medical intervention and biomedical innovation.

Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit organization, which provides science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs along with a rigorous curriculum.

SCHS PLTW teacher Tonya Burns said in the school’s release the students are offered a way learn with real-life situations.

“The beauty of PLTW courses is that our kids get to experience how a concept they learned in science applies to a real-world project,” she said. “In class, there are no lectures – kids are exploring the concepts of human medicine, mapping and analyzing DNA and designing innovative solutions for the health challenges of the 21st century.

“That is the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in fields that they might otherwise never consider.”

Collins High School’s Pathway to Engineering program received national certification earlier this year.

The certification program recognizes schools for demonstrating a commitment to PLTW's national standards and provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit when they complete select PLTW courses in high school and then receive further college-level training at affiliated universities.

More than 40 universities are connected to the program, including instate schools like the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University and more than five other four-year universities in surrounding states.

“We’ve seen how the PLTW program draws more students into the biomedical sciences and gets them thinking about college and their careers,” SCHS Principal Eddie Oakley said. “We are extremely proud to be PLTW certified and ecstatic that our students are eligible for college-level recognition, which may include college credit for select PLTW courses, scholarships and admissions preference.”

A three-step certification process includes a self-assessment, a site visit from PLTW and a certification report.

A team composed of teachers, staff, students and members of the community submitted Shelby County’s self-assessment of the implementation of the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program.

PLTW then sent a certification team, which met with teachers, school administrators, counselors, students and members of the partnership team to judge the program's success.

According to Jennifer Cahill, director of communications with Project Lead the Way, There are 107 PLTW programs in Kentucky, with some schools having both programs, and only 25 percent have national certification. Of the nearly 3,000 programs in the country, 44 percent have the national certification.

This status can lead to bigger and better things headed to Shelby County.

With certification, the teachers are eligible to apply for further education, including becoming Master Teachers and the possible opportunities to field-test new curriculum. The school is also eligible to apply for Model School status, which would put them at the forefront of national STEM education.