The funding will allow the district to launch Project Lead The Way’s Gateway to Technology program at Midview Middle School and add a class at the high school. PLTW is a national nonprofit organization that develops hands-on, project-based STEM curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools.
The grant helps cover the upfront cost of materials, technology and equipment that come with the PLTW program. But the district believes it will be able to sustain the added courses for students after exhausting the grant.
“As a district, we understand the importance of providing chances for students to explore a variety of academic opportunities,” said Superintendent Scott Goggin. “This grant allows us to offer early exposure to the STEM fields, which ultimately helps get students on a path to success as they decide what to pursue in the future.”
The middle school will add the Gateway to Technology Design Modeling program this school year. The nine-week course uses topics including robotics, flight and space, and DNA and crime scene analysis to provide students with interactive lessons.
The district plans to offer automation and robotics courses in the 2015-16 school year, allowing eighth-grade students to enter high school with a full semester of STEM-class experience.
The grant will allow for the addition of an aerospace engineering course at the high school. The new class will be in addition to currently offered PLTW courses — introduction to engineering design, principles of engineering and digital electronics.
“With our proximity to the NASA facility in Cleveland, this is a unique opportunity to expose students to an exciting field with local ties,” said Dan White, Midview’s director of education.
All of the classes will be taught by existing teachers involved in STEM curriculum. They include high school science teacher Bryan Wanosky, math teacher Chris Bucher and fourth-grade teacher Kathy Manning, who will oversee the middle school’s new STEM program.
With a degree in aerospace technology from Kent State University, Manning spent several years designing and drafting airport electrical navigation systems, runways and taxiways for a Cleveland-area airport engineering firm before joining the district.
“Kathy is not only an excellent teacher, but her engineering background and work experience makes her the perfect person to lead our middle school STEM program,” White said. “She will be able to speak directly to what she’s teaching, while providing a great wealth of knowledge to our younger students considering potential careers in STEM.”
Philanthropic support of education is nothing new in Lorain County. It is how districts work outside of traditional funding streams with local partners to bring new programs to students.
Lorain County did not win in the competitive state grant known as the Straight A Fund, a product of Gov. John Kasich’s education budget. However, many districts did not abandon their plans; rather, they went to local sources for funding.
Starting this August, Elyria will embark on a transformation plan at Franklin Elementary School that is being funded with a financial commitment of $1.25 million over five years from the Stocker Foundation.