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The Madison Record

Liberty named Project Lead the Way Distinguished School

MADISON – Liberty Middle School has been recognized as a 2020-2021 Project Lead The Way or PLTW Distinguished School.

Liberty is one of only 158 U.S. middle schools to receive this honor for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students with PLTW Gateway. The nonprofit PLTW organization serves millions of U.S. students and teachers in grades PreK-12.

“The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement and achievement in their PLTW programs,” Jodi Jones said. Jones is Career Tech Department Lead at Liberty.

To qualify for the designation, Liberty had to meet specific criteria:

* Have more than 50-percent participation of student body during the 2019-2020 school year.

* Have 25 percent of students who are advancing to high school to participate in two or more units.

* Offer at least one PLTW Gateway unit for each grade.

* Apply strategies and policies that support reasonably proportional representation for race, ethnicity, poverty and gender. Substantiate these claims with relevant data.

To offer equitable access to PLTW classes, Liberty promotes these courses at all curriculum nights for rising grades 6-8. “We share a presentation at curriculum night, on social media and on our website that briefly describes each PLTW course,” Jones said. “We also have added PLTW course offerings for the past four (consecutive) years so students have a variety of options to select as electives.”

PLTW course fee is minimal ($10 maximum to none). To promote multiple enrollments, administrators ask PLTW teachers to share a presentation highlighting each course curriculum and students’ final projects.

“We also stress . . . PLTW courses are project-based learning within the school setting and not projects to complete independently at home,” Jones said. “Madison City Schools provides all technology, equipment and supplies.”

Enrollment in Liberty’s PLTW courses has grown annually. Many students enroll in multiple PLTW courses for all three years in middle school. “We also offered virtual PLTW courses throughout 2020 with COVID-19. We’re very fortunate to have our district and school administration fully support our growing PLTW course curriculums and continually (allow) teachers to attend PLTW professional development to expand our PLTW offerings to ensure courses meet students’ needs and interests,” Jones said.

Nine Liberty teachers are trained to facilitate PLTW courses in Green Architecture, Science of Technology, Computer Science Innovators and Makers, App Creators, Energy and Environment, Design and Modeling, Magic of Electrons, Robotics, Flight and Space, Medical Detectives and Engineering Essentials.

“It’s a great honor to recognize Liberty for their unwavering commitment to provide students with an excellent educational experience, despite the unusual circumstances and unique challenges that COVID-19 presented to the educational landscape,” Dr. Vince Bertram, PLTW President/CEO, said. “(Liberty teachers) should be very proud of their achievements in unlocking their students’ potential and equipping them with knowledge to thrive in life beyond the classroom — no matter what career path they choose.”

Shannon Brown serves as Principal at Liberty.

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