This week, the Victor Junior and Senior High Schools learned that their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs received national recognition from the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) organization. This is the first year the VJH was recognized as a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Distinguished Gateway School and the third year in a row that the VSH was recognized as a PLTW Distinguished High School. VSH technology teacher, Mark Selvek, who nominated both schools for the award, said that the JH recognition is especially impressive since the PLTW Gateway program only started a few years ago as it transitioned from an older module-based curriculum to a more hands-on, problem solving curriculum.
VJH was one of just 158 middle schools and VSH was one of only 204 high schools nationwide to be honored by PLTW for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through their PLTW programs. The eligibility criteria for this recognition was rigorous. To qualify as a PLTW Distinguished Gateway School, at least 50% of students in the VJH had to participate in the PLTW Gateway program. To qualify for the PLTW Distinguished High School honor, at least 25% of students in the VSH had to participate in PLTW courses from any pathway during 2019-20 school year OR 33% of students had to participate in at least two PLTW courses during their tenure in the high school.
Selvek, who is also the SH technology department chairperson, said that he is extremely pleased and proud of this national recognition. “Our technology teachers strive to offer the most relevant and engaging curriculum that they can and Project Lead the Way allows them to do that. With the start of our junior high Gateway program a few years ago, we have noticed that students seem to really enjoy the problem solving and design work and are excited to be in technology class. When students come to the high school it is clear that they are better prepared for the courses that we offer.” he said.
In addition to himself, Selvek said the District’s technology programs are made possible by Pat Dennis and Peter Pouliot in the high school, and Jon Hanna, Nathan Wolf, and Karen Harrison in the junior high school. “A special thanks to Connie Bertucci, a long time technology teacher in the high school, who retired last year. She was instrumental in bringing Project Lead the Way to our district early in her career and growing our programs into what they are today,” Selvek said. According to Selvek, it was Bertucci’s early leadership that was also responsible for the PLTW graduate recognition program that was developed for seniors back in 2004. “Students who take at least 5 or all 6 of our high school offerings receive a medal at an award ceremony to commemorate their hard work and the achievement of finishing our program and proudly wear them at graduation just as they do with other academic regalia,” he said.
Through PLTW programs, students develop in-demand knowledge and skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take. As PLTW students progress, they are empowered to engage in problem-solving and process thinking, develop technical knowledge and skills, build communication skills, and explore career opportunities.
“I am very proud of our faculty who spearheaded this exceptional opportunity to develop authentic experiences for our students to participate in real world problem solving, critical thinking, communication and design,” said VCS Superintendent Dr. Tim Terranova. “It’s quite an honor to be nationally recognized for participation in such rigorous and relevant learning experiences at both VJH and VSH and speaks to the comprehensive education that we continue to emphasize at VCS,” he said.
Victor JH and SH are part of a community of PreK-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate and philanthropic partners across the country united around a passion for providing students with inspiring, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities. For more information about PLTW’s recognition program, visit pltw.org/our-programs/program-recognition.