Raleigh Schools Engineering Classes Offer Real-World Experience | State and region
A series of engineering courses offered at Shady Spring High School and the Academy of Careers and Technology (ACT) under a program called Project Lead the Way are helping give students a taste of what what future careers in engineering might look like.
At a Raleigh County School Board meeting on Tuesday evening, Charles Pack, director of Vocational Technical Education for Raleigh County Schools, and Elizabeth Hegele, a teacher at Shady Spring High School, gave a presentation showing members of the board a profile of the program.
They also asked board members to approve a proposal to provide students with honors and Advanced Placement-level grade points for course attendance.
Pack said increasing credit for these courses would be a way to reward students for the “rigorous work” the courses require.
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a project-based learning program that integrates science, technology, engineering, and math. Pack said it also challenges students to develop and apply in-demand portable skills by exploring real-world challenges in an exciting and engaging way.
Now in its third year, Pack said courses included in the program include engineering principles, computer-integrated manufacturing, digital electronics, aerospace engineering, and engineering design and development.
The Computer Integrated Manufacturing course is the only course not offered at Shady Spring, while the others are offered at both ACT and Shady Spring.
According to the proposal, students participating in Principles of Engineering could receive up to 4.5 grade points, which is equivalent to an honors course. Students participating in the remaining four classes could receive up to 5.0 grade points, which is equivalent to an AP course.
“We want to attract students who want to take higher-level courses as they prepare for college and a career,” Pack said. “All of these students can go straight to college and engineering courses…or they have the option to go straight into a career, so it’s professional college preparation.”
Pack said one of the most impressive things about the program is that classes are taught by teachers who are also engineers.
In Shady Spring, that teacher is Hegele.
Hegele said his students range from freshmen to seniors.
In addition to developing science, technology, engineering and math skills, Hegele said students also learn life skills such as collaboration and time management.
“They’re learning these real-world skills that we always talk about,” she said.
Lauren Adkins teaches classes at ACT.
Raleigh County Schools Superintendent David Price said Raleigh County schools are fortunate to have trained engineers to teach these courses to students.
Price went on to say that he knows at least one student who has taken the classes and seen firsthand how that knowledge is transferable to the real world.
“He went to an automated manufacturing place in the airport complex and walked through the door and they’re using the exact same software that (the teacher) taught him to use,” Price said. “Now he’s doing manual labor, but he’s eager to get his hands on this software because he’s learning it in (the) program.”
The Board voted unanimously in favor of the proposal to increase the quality points for Project Lead the Way courses.
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In other business, council members approved a move to expand the attendance area of Stratton Elementary School and Park Middle School for the 2023-24 school year.
These changes were explained at a board meeting last month. During that meeting, Assistant Superintendent Serena Starcher said the way the attendance lines are now drawn, students could live across from Stratton Elementary or Park Middle but must attend a different school because they are not in the same school district as Stratton or Park.
She added that parents must then complete an out-of-district form in order for students to attend the school closest to their home.
For the changes to Stratton Elementary District, Gary Daniel, the transportation director, said about 35 to 40 students would be affected. For the changes to the Park Middle neighborhood, Daniel said around 40 students would be affected.
He added that the majority of affected students were already filling out district forms and that these changes would make those forms no longer necessary for those students.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23 at Munson Hall at the Raleigh County Schools Central Office.