Missouri Leaders Understand Urgency of Empowering Students with Skills

Over 1,000  teachers, administrators, counselors, and business leaders gathered in Wentzville, Missouri, for the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Missouri State Conference on Oct. 29 at Timberlake High School.

At a reception on Oct. 28 to honor the 2016 Missouri PLTW Teachers of the Year and school districts that offer 100 percent student access to PLTW, Gov. Jay Nixon recognized the urgency of this work.

“The biggest economic driver we have is education,” Gov. Nixon said. “Why PLTW is so important, why we have to focus on it, is there are jobs and careers out there for our students.”

Between 2014 and 2024, STEM jobs in Missouri will grow by 12 percent while non-STEM jobs will grow by only 8 percent, according the Change the Equation.

The following morning, Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven opened the conference by emphasizing how important it is for students to experience engaging and relevant learning experiences in the classroom, and how critical it is to move quickly.

“We cannot stop until every student has access to these opportunities,” she said.

Today, there are over 600 PLTW programs in over 400 schools across Missouri.

PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram provided the keynote address for the conference before attendees spent the day learning and sharing in the dozens of breakout sessions.

“Our students need the skills that will allow them to choose their future,” Bertram said. “We cannot do this work alone. Thank you for believing in the promise of our students.”

Dr. Karen Hill, director of professional & program development for Wentzville R-IV School District, sees the positive outcome of providing real-world learning opportunities for students.  

“The skills our students are learning in these experiences are absolutely critical to fostering the new version of a well-rounded student ready to excel in the economy,” she wrote in an op-ed published by 70 West Sentinel. Read more about her experience here.

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