For the sixth consecutive year, Central Middle School has been named a Distinguished School in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) STEM program. It is one of 212 middle schools across the U.S. to receive the 2022-2023 honor for providing broad access to transformative learning experiences for students through PLTW’s Gateway courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides STEM curricula in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to millions of PreK-12 students and teachers in schools across the U.S.
Research shows that the middle grades play a pivotal role in influencing high school, college, and career success. During this transitional time, it’s crucial to provide students with access to relevant, engaging, and real-world learning experiences that illuminate the range of career paths and possibilities available to them. Whether designing an automated robotics system or solving a mysterious disease outbreak, PLTW Gateway students engage in critical and creative thinking, build teamwork skills, and develop a passion for and confidence in STEM subjects.
To be eligible, the school had to meet a variety of criteria including having more than 50% of the student body participating, at least 25% advancing to high school to participate in two or more PLTW units, offering Gateway courses at each grade, and having strategies in place to ensure equitable access to students. Central's award-winning STEM program has been led by teachers Darin Messerli and Lolly Williams, and it has included multiple award-winning VEX robotics teams and awards at the Technology Student Association's national conference.
“We are proud to recognize Central Middle School for their commitment to providing students with exceptional educational experiences while ensuring equitable access to PLTW programs,” said Dr. David Dimmett, PLTW President and CEO. "We congratulate them on this achievement and celebrate their important work empowering students with the knowledge and skills to succeed, not only in STEM subjects, but also more generally in life and career."
All six of the district's elementary schools, both middle schools, and the high school have earned Distinguished School status for four consecutive years, making it a Distinguished District in the program, one of only 17 across the nation.