Core Training at Industry Site Puts Teachers in the Roles of Student and Cybersecurity Professional

At a recent PLTW Core Training held at Cerner’s global cybersecurity headquarters, teachers stepped into the role of a student – an exercise that helped them prepare to teach PLTW Cybersecurity when they return to their own classrooms this fall. Cerner, a global leader in health care technology, hosted the teachers at the company’s Continuous Campus in Kansas City, Kansas, where training participants engaged with Cerner professionals and learned about real-world cybersecurity experiences.

 PLTW Master Teacher and 2017 PLTW Computer Science Teacher of the Year Nirmala (Nimmi) Arunachalam led the Cybersecurity Core Training. Arunachalam, who teaches at Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, expressed that a key benefit of PLTW Core Training is that teachers gain confidence in both content knowledge and pedagogy with the support of a network of fellow educators.

 “The experience is one that teachers will treasure and remember forever,” she said. “While some might describe it admiringly as ‘the boot camp of teacher trainings,’ it certainly is one of the most well-planned, comprehensive, effective, and inspiring professional developments that teachers will attend in their careers.”

 PLTW Core Training immersers teachers in a hands-on, collaborative learning environment that challenges them to look at their classrooms in a new way. During Core Training at Cerner, part of that hands-on learning included touring the company’s war room, where cybersecurity professionals monitor and react to the hundreds of declared incidents a year. Teachers also heard firsthand from Kevin Hutchinson, senior director of cybersecurity at Cerner, about the skills that companies look for when hiring computer scientists.

 “The first skills we have to train our cyber professionals on are soft skills,” Hutchinson said. “They have to be able to communicate what they have identified to all audiences.”

 In PLTW courses, students develop those skills that employers across industries demand. In Cybersecurity, which is part of the PLTW Computer Science program, students learn tools and concepts of cybersecurity and create solutions that allow people to share computing resources while protecting privacy. 

 PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram visited the teachers engaged in training at Cerner and shared why PLTW’s partnership with Cerner is important for teachers and students.

 “Our students must know the opportunities available in the workforce so they can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to access them,” he said. “First, though, our teachers have to know what is possible. That’s why we believe it’s important to deliver this kind of training at some of our nation’s top companies – to build that connectivity.”

 Project Lead The Way is committed to empowering teachers to inspire and engage students in this learning, and part of that effort is to provide more opportunities for teachers to gain industry and business experience through tours, hands-on learning, and conversations with professionals in a variety of STEM-related fields. This summer, teachers have access to PLTW Professional Development at top companies such as FedEx and Cerner, and more opportunities will be available beginning in 2019.

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