January Community Spotlight: Jackson Middle School

Every day, members of our communities rise to meet unexpected challenges. From children to parents and from caregivers to businesses, we have all been asked to step up and become leaders. We’ve faced and pivoted to adapt and grow through our everchanging world due to unforeseen events that affect our daily lives. No action is too small, and together our impact is large.

Your actions should be recognized and celebrated. Our communities are the foundation of our society, and we stand stronger together. PLTW is proud to celebrate diverse communities and its members who exhibit collaboration, leadership, and entrepreneurship in service across the nation. As a result, we have created the PLTW Community Celebration Awards to recognize communities that have come together to care for each other in times of need. Join us in celebrating the following community this month!

Jackson Middle School, located in South Bend, Indiana, serves approximately 600 students from the northern Indiana city. The school is steeped in computer training and healthcare and offers six PLTW Gateway modules to 153 students. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the school stepped up to support their local healthcare workers at St. Joseph Hospital. 

“When COVID-19 came calling and closed our schools, the Tigers decided it was time to help the community,” Lisa Anderson, the school’s PLTW coordinator, said. 

After reading an article about students in Michigan City, Indiana, creating facemasks using a 3D printer, Mrs. Anderson had the idea that her school could help their local hospital as well.  

“My next thought was, we have a 3D printer at school and should use it to help the community,” Mrs. Anderson said. 

She reached out to Principal Tiana Batiste-Waddell, who was on board immediately. From there, four other teachers and administrators joined the team. Six students in grades 7 and 8 also joined the team, as well as Steve Fiddler, the CEO of Kuert Concrete, a concrete, hardscape, and landscape company with multiple locations throughout northern Indiana.    

The team held two weekly virtual meetings to discuss the community project and brainstorm ideas about how they could help. Initially, they put in place the idea to help by making facemasks. Mrs. Anderson contacted St. Joseph Medical Center Director of Purchasing Manny Navarro who indicated that they were really in need of CAPR Helmet clips. The clips are a part of a doctor’s helmet that holds shields in place when working with infectious diseases.The clips that they had kept breaking, and he wondered if the team could build them for him. 

The team took on the task of building the clips using SketchUp, a CAD app on their laptops. After a couple of weeks of trial and error, they came up with a design that was printed on the school’s 3D printer to fit the CAPR Helmets. They then worked to print the clips to provide the hospital with the desperately needed equipment.