February is national Career and Technical Education month, a celebration of the leadership and excellence stemming from career and tech classrooms across the country. National CTE month is also an effort to raise awareness of the crucial role that CTE has in the United States’ economic success and workforce competitiveness.[i]
Florida State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen got a head start on CTE month last week, visiting Dunbar High School in her Southwest Florida district. Since 2011, Dunbar High School has been home to two of Project Lead The Way’s rigorous STEM programs: PLTW Biomedical Science and PLTW Engineering. Dunbar High School is a Title 1 school led by Principal Carl Burnside.&
“We aspire to be the number-one urban school in the nation,” Burnside said. “We believe the PLTW curriculum, combined with excellent faculty, helps us meet that goal.”
During Fitzenhagen’s visit, she explored both PLTW programs, taking time to talk with district and school administrators, a school board member, Dunbar High School teachers, and students. Students in the PLTW Biomedical Science program presented their Human Body Systems projects, while PLTW Engineering students demonstrated their solar cars.
“I was impressed with the rigor of the coursework and excited to see how engaged and passionate the students were about their projects,” State Rep. Fitzenhagen said.
Students at Dunbar High School aren’t the only Ft. Myers-area students with the opportunity to explore STEM through PLTW. The Lee County School District – of which Dunbar is a member – has a total of seven schools that offer PLTW, including two elementary schools, three middle schools, and another high school. As a result, students have access to high-quality STEM programming beginning in kindergarten and running through their senior year of high school. These experiences are critical to Florida’s economic growth.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, STEM job postings increased by 7.3 percent from November 2013 to November 2014. Additionally, a study out of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that Florida will have over 400,000 STEM-related jobs in 2018.[ii]
“Florida’s STEM jobs continue to increase, and we must produce the talent to keep up with the demand,” said State Rep. Fitzenhagen.
For more information on PLTW Biomedical Science or PLTW Engineering, as well as to learn how PLTW is effectively preparing students for college and their careers, visit pltw.org.