116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINTON — Vinton-Shellsburg High School is being recognized as a Project Lead the Way Distinguished School for the 2020-21 school year, the third year the district has received this honor since 2017.
The Project Lead the Way Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement and achievement in their program.
In an email to families, Superintendent Kyle Koeppen said the district is “extremely proud” to earn this award.
Project Lead the Way “empowers millions of students across the U.S. to unlock their potential and success in college, career and beyond,” Koeppen said.
“These programs inspire and engage students in science, technology, engineering and math, and prepare them with the in-demand, real-world knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in life beyond the classroom,” Koeppen said.
Vinton-Shellsburg is one 204 schools in the United States, and one of two high schools in Iowa, to receive this honor.
Project Lead the Way is in 12,200 schools in the United States.
To be eligible for the honor, Vinton-Shellsburg High School had to meet the following criteria:
- Have 95 percent of students take the end of course assessments;
- Have 25 percent or more of students participate in Project Lead the Way courses or of those who participated, at least 33 percent took two or more of the courses;
- Offer and have students enrolled in at least three of the courses;
- Have strategies and procedures in place that support reasonably proportional representation with regard to race, ethnicity, poverty and gender.
Marsha Furlong, a Project Lead the Way instructor at Vinton-Shellsburg High School, started teaching in the district in 2007 and was certified to teach Project Lead the Way classes shortly after.
“I saw how engaged the students, are and how much fun they have,” Furlong said.
The program empowers students to explore future career paths, Furlong said. The project-based learning framework teaches them how to work as a team and refines their presentation skills.
The district now offers several Project Lead the Way engineering courses: Introduction for Engineering and Design, Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Computer Science Principles.
In these classes, students build robots and learn how to program and design a Habitat for Humanity house and a public library, among other projects.
Furlong also feels like the school does a good job of recruiting girls to the engineering program.
“I think it helps they have a female instructor and don’t feel quite so intimidated” in a male-dominated field, Furlong said.
The district was first recognized as a distinguished Project Lead the Way school for the 2017-18 school year, then again in 2018-19. Because of the pandemic, schools were unable to meet the requirements for the 2019-20 school year.
About 50 students enroll in the program each year, a good percentage of the district’s 448 student population.
“It is a great honor to recognize Vinton-Shellsburg High School for their unwavering commitment to provide students with an excellent educational experience despite the unusual circumstances and unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented to the educational landscape this past year,” president and CEO of Project Lead the Way Vince Bertram said in a news release. “They should be very proud of their achievements in unlocking their students’ potential.”
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