How PLTW Has Impacted My Students, the Community, and Me

Justin Klyczek teaches PLTW Gateway at Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette, Indiana. He has coached bowling and baseball, and currently announces for the school corporation at numerous sporting events. He loves gadgets and technology and being a dad to his wonderful daughter.

After teaching math for the better part of a decade, last year I finally got to do something I’ve always wanted to do – teach computer science. My name is Justin “Mr. K” Klyczek. I’m a teacher at Tecumseh Junior High School and am in the middle of my third year after spending eight in another district. I’d like to share how PLTW has impacted my students, the community, and me.

Tecumseh is home to around 1,100 seventh and eighth grade students. We are an extremely diverse school, and 70 percent of our student body comes from homes that live at or below the poverty line. Our staff is amazing, and our students are wonderful. Last August, I made the trip to Indianapolis for my training. I should mention that this training took place during the first week of classes at my school. So while my students were busy getting back into the swing of school, I was busy being a student and attempting to absorb as much information as I could. 

In the three semesters since my training, I’ve had the opportunity to teach computer science to more than 500 students. Talk about making an impact!

I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from the community. Parents love the idea of their students being introduced to such an important topic.

In addition, in May 2016, the City of Lafayette received a grant to bring computer science to the community. Greater Lafayette Commerce partnered with Eleven-Fifty Academy to bring computer science to students and engage in school visits across the community.

PLTW hasn’t just done a lot for my school and the community. I also strongly believe PLTW has saved my career. After a decade in the classroom teaching math of all levels, I was struggling. I started to doubt myself as a teacher. Math teachers face heavy criticism for poor scores on standardized state exams. The stress of being under such scrutiny and unrealistic expectations means that we dedicate a great deal of class time preparing and taking these tests. Unfortunately, this means having to cut a lot of fun projects and enrichment activities from the classroom. I love teaching just about anything. I do not love teaching students to take tests. It was to the point that I was considering a career change, but that isn’t the case anymore. I’m happier now. I’m less stressed and am enjoying what I get to teach. My students get hands-on experiences that are meaningful, useful, and fun.

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. Without a shadow of doubt, PLTW has made Lafayette a better place.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.