CJ PLTW Program Nationally Certified

The Chaminade Julienne High School Project Lead the Way program earned national certification by Ohio affiliate directors from Sinclair Community College in the spring of 2011, becoming the only Catholic high school in the United States—and one of just four schools in Ohio—dually certified to provide both its innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes.

The school has offered Biomedical Sciences and Engineering courses since 2008 in partnership with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a non-profit organization that provides STEM education curricular programs to high schools and middle schools across the U.S.  Certification affirms the high quality of CJ’s program, provides students who successfully complete the requirements with expanded opportunities to earn college credit for their high school PLTW coursework, and makes students eligible to receive other college-level recognition, including admissions preference, at PLTW affiliate universities. PLTW has more than 40 affiliate college and university partners.

“With the support of our alumni, friends and partners, we are able to offer PLTW courses, which only further strengthens CJ’s commitment to provide curriculum that allows students to use their academic talents to serve others in our world,” said Meg Draeger, coordinator of the CJ STEMM program, which is customized to also include topics in the field of medicine.

To attain national certification, a PLTW school must adhere to strict requirements including teaching the curriculum, administering exams provided, working with local business and industry professionals, and providing students with a clear pathway into post-secondary education. Chaminade Julienne will be officially recognized during a presentation at the annual PLTW Ohio conference on November 3-4 in Akron, Ohio.

“Chaminade Julienne High School should be congratulated for demonstrating its commitment to PLTW’s quality standards, but the real winners are CJ students,” said PLTW CEO Vince Bertram. “Students benefit from PLTW’s innovative, project-based curriculum that encourages creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. We look forward to many more years of working together to prepare Chaminade Julienne students to become the most innovative and productive in the world.”

According to Draeger, the CJ STEMM program is innovative in that it is founded on a rigorous inquiry-based curriculum and supported by numerous businesses and collegiate partners. Along with the school’s four full-time instructors—Brad Kassner, Amy O’Loughlin, Amanda Ooten, and Bob Young –qualified to teach six PLTW courses offered, CJ supplies students with opportunities for career exploration and community engagement outside the classroom.

“One of our most popular offerings with students is the CJ STEMM Idol Speaker Series,” Draeger said. The series showcases area professionals, including alumni, who have successful careers in STEMM fields.

“We have new presenters each month who visit campus to interact with students during their homeroom period and demonstrate the diverse application of STEMM related topics in the real world,” she added.

In addition, the school also hosts the CJ STEMM Summer Gateway Academy—a one-week camp for middle school students in July. The summer camp is designed to introduce students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and medicine through field trips to local employers and with hands-on activities involving robotics, 3D Computer-Aided Design software (CAD), nanotechnology and more.

“Our aim is to inspire students with an interest in these fields to seek ways to serve their community by equipping them with the talent, skill and desire to make a difference.”

In December 2010, Amy O’Loughlin was selected to become a PLTW Core Training instructor for the Level 2: Human Body Systems course.

Core Training Instructors are appointed by the national program to conduct the mandatory two-week professional development courses for fellow teachers wishing to become certified PLTW instructors. O’Loughlin will be eligible to become a Master Teacher at the completion of her apprenticeship following the 2011-2012 school year.

“The PLTW Biomedical program has only been available to schools for four years, and we’ve had it here for three years so we are really on the cutting edge,” O’Loughlin said. She has taught the Human Body Systems course each year it has been offered to CJ students.

O’Loughlin, a 1986 graduate of CJ and current co-chair of the science department, will begin her Core Instructor training this summer at Sinclair Community College, one of four PLTW sites.

“It is really important for us in the CJ community to continue to create and strengthen the relationship with Project Lead the Way, ” stated O’Loughlin, who along with fellow PLTW instructor Amanda Ooten, science department co-chair, earned her Masters of Education from the University of Dayton last winter.