Chevron-Supported District Transformation Training Opens Door to STEM Learning for Hundreds of Louisiana Students

As the final school bells rang across South Louisiana this spring, nearly every educator was looking forward to a restful and relaxing summer break, particularly after the challenges of the 2020-21 school year. But in the parishes of St. Tammany and Lafourche, the first days of summer would look quite differently for 24 of their elementary educators and instructional leaders.

For the fourth consecutive summer, PLTW’s partnership with Chevron brought a transformative learning experience to a brand new cohort of PLTW Launch teachers in the Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit area. Despite the uniqueness of this school year, our partners at Chevron felt strongly that the magic of the PTLW Launch District Transformation Training should continue. For 24 teachers and administrators, this powerfully engaging experience will impact hundreds of students in the area.

PLTW District Transformation Training allows a single school or district or cohort of districts to host PLTW Core Training for multiple teachers, during which teachers may receive a credential to teach specific PLTW courses. To teach PLTW Launch, teacher engage in training for 16 hours over two days.

Katherine Harvey is a new PLTW Launch teacher at Pontchartrain Elementary in Saint Tammany Parish. She understands the necessity of preparing our students for STEM careers as early as possible. “The training was immersive, hands-on, and empowering all while being remote,” she said. “The trainers were very experienced teachers of the PLTW curriculum and were able to give a truly on the ground perspective on how this curriculum is implemented and what we can expect for our students.”

Harvey’s career has included work for a microbiology lab at the National Cancer Institute. “As a scientist, I am so impressed with the problem-solving strategies of this curriculum, because students truly are building important problem solving and logic skills while engaged in creative thought processes,” she added. “Students can directly see how Launch applies to their future and strengthens their independence as learners. This is incredibly important to future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and even writers, programmers, teachers, and office administrators.”

Ashley Ellis is a veteran PLTW Launch teacher at Bayou Blue Upper Elementary School in Houma, Louisiana, a part of the Lafourche Parish School system. Ashley was trained at Chevron in 2018 and has continued PLTW Launch implementation at her school as a result. “Thanks to the support and training from Chevron and Project Lead The Way, I have been able to expand the school’s science curriculum and engage students in fun, challenging, and problem-focused lessons which bolster their understanding of content, skills, and phenomenon exposure, to produce students who are more prepared to tackle their education moving forward-as well as providing insight regarding connections to future careers,” she said. “Our school’s mission is to provide all students with a quality education to foster life-long learning.”

Ashley has recently completed her master’s degree in educational leadership and looks forward to continuing this educational journey. “We have navigated the perils (of 2020-21) together and should be proud of our achievements,” she added.

This year, teachers like Katherine and Ashley will also have an opportunity to experience PLTW Launch Lead Teacher Training. This opportunity to expand their teacher leadership is yet another result of this continued partnership with Chevron. Thanks to school grants provided by the Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, eleven schools will return in the fall to new PLTW programs and three will see program expansions as a result.

Leah Brown is the Public Affairs Manager for the Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “One of our long-standing partners is Project Lead The Way,” she said. “Their hands-on and transformative learning experiences have helped foster young minds’ passion for learning as well as an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The dedicated Project Lead The Way team continues to work tirelessly to expand to new schools, giving children the STEM skills they need to lay the foundation for their future success.”