West High School PLTW Teachers Awarded at John Deere Inspire Meeting

DAVENPORT, Iowa (Sept. 24, 2015) West High School PLTW Engineering teachers Jason Franzenburg and Greg Smith were recently recognized at the John Deere Inspire Coordinators Meeting in Davenport, Iowa, for their outstanding work with Project Lead The Way. The two presented to a room full of John Deere team members about the success they’ve seen in their classrooms.

Franzenburg was awarded Iowa STEM Teacher of the Year in February 2015 and has also earned the honor of Quad City STEM Teacher of the Year. Franzenburg teaches Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA) and Engineering Design and Development (EDD), and he is a Master Teacher for Introduction to Engineering Design (IED). Throughout his seven years of experience with PLTW, he has leveraged the program to empower his students to think more critically and understand more deeply.

“They have been programmed to answer questions, not understand concepts,” Franzenburg said. “PLTW's curriculum allows students to problem-solve by applying skills and knowledge they have learned to projects and problems, which can be a hurdle at first. Once they understand, they thrive.”

The PLTW classroom is not a traditional classroom that relies on a teacher to disseminate information. Franzenburg has found success when the students own their learning.

“Mutual respect is the single biggest key to a successful classroom,” he said. “Students need to believe in their teacher. Creating a culture of problem-solvers is easy when you’re having fun.”

Smith was also awarded Iowa QCESC (Quad City Engineering and Science Council) Teacher of the Year and teaches Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), and Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). He became a PLTW teacher when he saw how the program engages students.

“I saw what amazing things students were creating and thought, I want to be part of that,” he said. “The professional development is one of the best, the network of teachers is great, and the curriculum is challenging.”

PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram traveled to Iowa to participate in the John Deere Inspire Coordinators Meeting and to celebrate the great work of Franzenburg and Smith.

“It’s because of the commitment of our teachers that students are successful,” Bertram said.

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