School Project Helps For Workforce

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With 3.7 million jobs unfilled in a market of millions unemployed, a nationwide school program that has been in the Quad Cities for awhile, is hoping to change that.

It’s becoming clear that Project Lead the Way is here to stay, "There's definitely an upward trend for increased enrollment in our project lead the way courses,” says Kimberly Gasaway, Stem and Technical Education Specialist for Davenport School District.

All of Davenport’s high schools use the program and Gasaway has seen an increased interest in the program, “We've had a tremendous growth in the female population with Project Lead the Way classes, where now it's almost reaching 50/50 with our female students."

Project Lead the Way started back in 2002, by a high school principal, Vince Bertram, who wanted to change his school.

 "We had 25% of our students were dropping out.  Another 25% at least were graduating with the credential that was meaningless because they didn't have the skills to be successful in a job market,” says Bertram.

The program’s core is based off STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a way of teaching that engaged students in learning.

"It also teaches you critical thinking, the collaboration, the ability to solve problems, think outside the box,” says Gasaway.

Bertram, spoke to business and school leaders on Friday, May 3, 2013, "What we have to focus on is moving from lectures to project activities based instruction. You know students want to do things they want to do hands on type of experiments and engaged in their own learning."

Helping fill the gap between education and the workforce, "We have a higher demand for skilled workforce and unless we're providing those opportunities for students to acquire those skills we're now going to see this widened,” says Bertram.

The Davenport School District is applying for a grant to expand the program for their intermediate schools. Moline also uses the program.