STM Receives National Honor for Excellence in STEM Education

St. Thomas More High School has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished High School for providing students with broad access to transformative, hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This marks the second time St. Thomas More has won this prestigious award, with the school first recognized as a PLTW Distinguished High School in 2018.

St. Thomas More is one of just 143 high schools across the United States–and the only located in the city of Milwaukee–to receive this honor. Serving millions of K-12 students and teachers in over 12,200 schools, PLTW is a nonprofit organization whose project-based curriculum of biomedical science, engineering, and computer science helps students develop STEM knowledge as well as transferable skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and time management.

“Students in PLTW are challenged to solve complex problems and develop critical life skills, and the Distinguished School award is evidence of their high level of achievement and dedication,” biomedical science chair and PLTW Master teacher Darlene Langhoff explained. “Many of our past PLTW students have gone on to very rewarding careers in STEM, and these students frequently credit their PLTW classes for starting them on the road to success.”

“My PLTW classes have given me invaluable experiences of hands-on, investigative learning,” explained senior Mikala Kallay, who has participated in PLTW biomedical science courses since her freshman year at St. Thomas More. “Due to the investigative tasks that we frequently take part in and in the personal skills we develop through group work, presentations, and hands-on learning experiences, I have been encouraged to become a nurse and specialize as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. I find DNA evidence fascinating, and I want to help victims of crimes to provide them with both medical and emotional support.”

The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, St. Thomas More had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three PLTW courses;
  • Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
  • Have 95 percent of student take the End-of-Course assessments; and
  • Have strategies and procedures in place that support reasonably proportional representation with regard to race, ethnicity, poverty, and gender and can support such claims with relevant data.
Darlene Langhoff serves as a PLTW Master Teacher, training fellow educators from across the country on STEM curriculum

“Being recognized as a PLTW Distinguished School is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our PLTW faculty,” principal Nicholas Kelly said. “They put countless hours into making a program that allows our students to have a competitive advantage in their academic and professional careers.”

“My PLTW teachers, Ms. Langhoff in particular, have helped me to realize my potential through constant support and encouragement to work hard and to always be there for others,” Kallay added.

In addition to the 2018 and 2020 PLTW Distinguished High School Awards, St. Thomas More has also been recognized for innovative STEM instruction by STEM Forward Milwaukee, which has awarded the school its Excellence in STEM Education Award and the STEMMY Partnership Award. St. Thomas More is also a past winner of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award in Education and the MIT Club of Wisconsin Technology Achievement Award. “It is a great honor to recognize St. Thomas More for their commitment to providing students with an excellent educational experience,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, President and CEO of PLTW. “They should be very proud of their work to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

1 comment

  1. Congratulations!!! i am so proud of the staff and students. best wishes for continued success.

    Tom Knitter
    Past President stm

    Tom Knitter

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