CJ STEMM Earns Second National PLTW Recognition

For the second time in as many years, Chaminade Julienne is being recognized nationally as a Project Lead the Way Distinguished School.

The recognition program honors schools and districts committed to increasing student access, engagement and achievement in their Project Lead the Way programs.

CJ is one of just 143 PLTW high school programs across the country to receive recognition this year.

“It is a great honor to recognize Chaminade Julienne for their commitment to providing students with an excellent educational experience,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead the Way. “They should be very proud of their work to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

The recognition, while not surprising, is a welcome one for CJ STEMM coordinator Meg Draeger.

“CJ was the first Catholic high school in Ohio to gain national certification of the PLTW programs, in our fifth year of course delivery,” Draeger said. “This second consecutive year of distinguished school recognition serves as evidence that we have maintained the quality and effectiveness of our PLTW programs.”

Above and beyond

To be eligible for the national recognition, schools have to meet multiple criteria. Chaminade Julienne met or exceeded all standards.

  • Schools should offer and have students enrolled in at least three PLTW courses, CJ offers eight courses.
  • Schools should have at least 25 percent of students participate in PLTW courses, CJ had 28 percent, with more than 40 percent of those students taking more than one PLTW course.
  • Schools should have at least 95 percent of students take End-of-Course national PLTW assessments, CJ had 100 percent of students enrolled in PLTW courses take the EoC assessments.

In the 2018-19 school year – for which this recognition was awarded – CJ had 186 students participate in a PLTW course. It marked a decade since CJ began with the first PLTW course delivery in the 2008-09 school year.

Science department co-chair Amy O'Loughlin has been part of the CJ program since its inception and is a PLTW Biomedical Sciences Master Teacher.

“As a teacher, what I love about the program is that every year the students are creating new and interesting presentations, experiments and products,” O’Loughlin said. “Even though the curriculum is basically the same, each student has the ability to approach the assignment from a different perspective and put their own unique mark on the assignment.”

PLTW benefits

The Project Lead the Way high school level courses in engineering and biomedical sciences at CJ are just one element of the CJ STEMM program.

“The courses, when combined with appropriate math and science courses, introduce students to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering, technology, and biomedical sciences prior to entering college,” Draeger said. “The program’s formal curriculum is rigorous and contemporary, problem and project-based, and supported by ongoing teacher professional development and networking among teachers around the nation.”

Both O’Loughlin and Draeger have witnessed the many benefits of the program.

“PLTW courses enable CJ students to learn and work in project teams on common projects, explore engineering and biomedical science careers, and learn in-demand technical and laboratory skills not addressed in other courses,” Draeger said. “For students who choose to pursue related studies in college, knowledge and experience gained in the PLTW courses give them a ‘jump start’ in introductory college courses, providing motivation and confidence to persist and succeed in college level programs.”

And those benefits last long after their students leave the CJ campus.

“I have had many students who reach out to me after graduation from CJ to share unique lab opportunities and even job opportunities because of the background and experiences that PLTW has provided,” O’Loughlin said. “Because we do advanced lab procedures that you would not find in a traditional high school science class, the PLTW students are able to showcase their lab skills much earlier than other students.”

- Posted May 7, 2020