Bertram in California for Teacher of the Year Event

Over 450 educators, administrators, business, and industry leaders gathered in Sacramento last week for the California PLTW State Conference where Vince delivered the keynote address and met with students and teachers in the state.

A major highlight of the conference was the chance for Vince to meet the Femineers, a group of female students at the Fremont Academy of Engineering and Design who are breaking through barriers and embracing career paths in science, technology, engineering, and math – helping to lead the next generation of women into STEM careers.

“When I first started, I didn’t think of going into engineering because I didn’t think I was smart enough,” said one student. “But now I want to become an electrical engineer.”

The girls presented their wearable technology projects to conference attendees. Projects ranged from a light-up Minnie Mouse hat to an “Iron Man hand” glove used for gaming.

“Most of us grew up thinking engineering was just for men,” said another student as she displayed her project, a teddy bear holding an electrically illuminated heart.

Vince also had the opportunity to talk with attendees in a session about “Employer Engagement in Support of PLTW.” He said we need to stop just fundraising and form partnerships that create shared value for the school and the companies.

“We have to get out of the bake sale business,” he said to a group of partners and educators. “That’s not what our children need. We need to build relationships.”

At the general session, Vince addressed the need to be honest with our students.

“Forty percent of those leaving high school about to enter the workforce, achieving voting age, entering the military, are doing so unable to perform basic mathematics,” he said. “It’s a crisis. It's depriving millions of children the opportunity to find great careers. We have to give our children something else to dream about. They won't dream about things they aren't good at, they won't dream about things they aren't excited about.”

He also spoke about how we must inspire students, engage them, and help them understand that what they are doing in the classroom today is developing skills that will last a lifetime.

“Every child is gifted and talented. We just have to help them find those gifts,” he said. “We cannot have faith in our future unless we believe in those who are going to create it, and they are in our classrooms right now.”

Following Vince’s keynote, the California State Conference team recognized three teachers as California’s PLTW Teachers of the Year.

Annie Clegg from Antelope High School received the California PLTW Biomedical Science Teacher of the Year award. Clegg started the school’s PLTW Biomedical Science program in 2008 with 18 students. Today, the program is over 150 students. Clegg also started an internship for students.

Matt Anderson of Joe Walker Middle School in Lancaster received the PLTW Gateway Teacher of the Year award. In addition to teaching PLTW Gateway, he coaches VEX Robotics and mentors the district’s other PLTW programs.

Lastly, Tim Bingham from Kearny High School’s School of Engineering, Innovation, and Design received the PLTW Engineering Teacher of the Year award. In the video that preceded his award, Bingham’s students said he is a great teacher because he treats them like professionals.

Following the general session, Vince met and talked with conference attendees during a two-hour CEO’s reception.

After California, Vince travels to Corpus Christi, Texas, for the PLTW Texas State Conference.

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