California STEM Education Leaders Gather for Learning and Networking

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (February 24, 2012) - Ellie Vandiver left a career in nursing to teach science. “I feel like much of healthcare and nursing is about teaching, so I’ve really enjoyed the transition to classroom instruction,” said Vandiver, who currently teaches Biomedical Science at University City High School in San Diego, California. “This conference gave me an opportunity to network with other educators and our partners.”

Vandiver was one of over 250 teachers, administrators, business and industry partners, and post-secondary representatives gathered in Sacramento for the first California Statewide Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Conference. The event exceeded the expectations of event organizers who hoped for 200 attendees at this inaugural event. They are already beginning plans for next year’s conference.

“The conference has exceeded our expectations,” stated Linda Christopher, director of educational innovation at Linking Education and Economic Development. “It’s great to see teachers, administrators, and partners from across the state sitting together and discussing their work.”

The event was preceded by a legislative breakfast and visits to the state capitol to meet with California legislators relative to program support and development. Other pre-conference activities included regional meetings and curriculum discussions for the various PLTW programs.

Duane Crum, California state leader for Project Lead The Way, remarked, “We are experiencing tremendous growth in our programs across the state. The flexibility and adaptability of the PLTW curriculum to local school and community needs is a real driver of this interest.”

The conference included keynote speeches from Dr. Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO; Dr. Patrick Ainsworth, assistant superintendent of career and college transition division, California Department of Education; and Matt Lonner, manager of global partnerships and programs, Chevron Corporation. Attendees also learned from each other through a series of breakout sessions on topics ranging from student assessment and partnerships to program overviews and STEM best practices.

“This event is a model for other states looking to connect educators with business and industry leaders,” remarked PLTW’s Bertram. “PLTW provides unique opportunities to connect school and community leaders with economic development groups and policy makers. By working together, these stakeholder groups can really drive improvement in communities across California and our country.”