Bertram Speaks at Missouri Leadership Conference

Over 150 school and district leaders from all over Missouri gathered at the Northwest Missouri State University (NMSU) Regional Professional Development Center this week to hear Project Lead The Way (PLTW) President and CEO Vince Bertram speak about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

NMSU President John Jasinski welcomed the group to campus before introducing Vince, who opened with a view of our national need for quality interdisciplinary STEM education and career learning opportunities, especially those involving computer science.

“Our greatest threat as a nation is cybersecurity,” Bertram said. “Companies are looking for people with the skills to counter those issues. When I think about how we do STEM, I think about how we drop in an engineering course in high school to check the box for STEM. That is not sufficient.”

He went on to illustrate how urgent this work is for our students as they consider career opportunities and the economic implications for the United States.

“If we are debating the acronym, we are missing the point, and our students are missing opportunities,” Vince said. “The regions, states, and countries to get this right will win, and I want that to be us.”

One school that is leading the way in providing opportunities for students is Rock Port Elementary School, a PLTW Launch school. Stacy Walker and Steve Waigand from Rock Port R-2 School District attended the conference to collaborate with fellow educators and share their experience.

“Some people are concerned about how something is going to affect test scores, but we are concerned with how something is going to affect students,” Walker said.

Earlier this year, Rock Port Elementary School leaders implemented a PLTW showcase evening to invite parents and family members to see what students are working on in PLTW Launch. Walker says community engagement has increased so much that each subsequent showcase has resulted in hallways and classrooms packed with parents and community members.

PLTW, and specifically PLTW Launch, are growing rapidly in Missouri as more districts see the value of empowering students with the knowledge and skills to pursue opportunities that are in high-demand. One great example is West Platte Elementary School, where a PLTW Launch teacher is providing hands-on computer science experiences to her students through PLTW as she learns alongside them. Read more here.

Stay current on Vince’s travels – and the latest in education and workforce development news – by following him on Twitter at @VinceBertram