Grants will help students prepare for success

10-Jan-2016

Heidi Armstrong, complex area superintendent for Campbell and Kapolei, wrote the following piece that was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "I have firsthand experience with exemplary educational opportunities made possible through grant funding and community partnerships. One program in particular — Project Lead The Way (PLTW) — has breathed new life into our complex area schools."

STEM learning at Mauka Lani Elementary.

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"The rigor and engagement of the courses have prompted students to want to learn, ​​to get involved and to do ​​hands-on activities." 
- CAS Armstrong​​​

As superintendent of the Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area, I have firsthand experience with exemplary educational opportunities made possible through grant funding and community partnerships.

One program in particular — Project Lead The Way (PLTW) — has breathed new life into our complex area schools.

Announced just this past week, USA Funds — a nonprofit organization that has supported college and career readiness in Hawaii for nearly 50 years — will provide all high schools in Hawaii with the opportu​​nity to apply for funding to implement PLTW’s programs in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. (View release.​)

Campbell-Kapolei is a proud supporter of the PLTW curriculum, not just for the vital science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education it provides our students, but also for the wonderful life skills students learn along the way.

STEM education is critical for students. A solid foundation in science, math and technology is necessary for the 21st-century technology-driven economy. In Hawaii, STEM-related jobs are growing faster than non-STEM jobs, with an additional 16,000 STEM-skilled employees needed each year.

These jobs also pay double the wage for non-STEM jobs: $39 per hour versus $18.65 per hour.

I recognize that not all students will go into STEM-related careers. Through PLTW, however, students get a rigorous, hands-on, minds-on curriculum paired with relevant skills that will support success in any college and career pathway.

Students are collaborating, inquiring, seeking information, working through problems —and learning different aspects of success, which include learning from mistakes. These skills will benefit students no matter what career they choose to pursue.

Over the past two years, the Campbell-Kapolei schools implemented PLTW programs in grades K-12, with our principals and teachers serving as the driving force.

At the elementary level, students engage in curriculum that supports three STEM pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science.

Our middle schools offer PLTW’s Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics courses and plan to add additional PLTW courses every year.

Campbell and Kapolei High Schools currently offer PLTW’s Engineering and Biomedical Science programs and plan to add Computer Science in the future.

At Campbell and Kapolei High Schools, student demand for the current course offerings has exceeded what we can offer.

I love walking through our schools and seeing the range of engaged students, including students with special needs, gifted students and students who have previously shied away from STEM courses. In just four months, we have seen disengaged students as well as our top performers dive into PLTW coursework. The rigor and engagement of the courses have prompted students to want to learn, to get involved and to do hands-on activities. The program has motivated students in a way that allows them to see a purpose and desire to want to come to school and learn.

PLTW programs use industry-standard equipment and software, and teachers need to be trained. At Campbell-Kapolei, we have been fortunate to receive grants to help implement these programs, but we’ve also dove into our school and complex area funds. Preparing students to be college and career ready is a priority for us.

USA Funds has demonstrated its commitment to preparing students for college and careers through nearly $2.2 million in grants, which will cover the costs associated with PLTW programs for high schools across the state.

We will continue to take advantage of these grant opportunities and lead the way in graduating students who are college and career ready —prepared with both STEM knowledge and skills to pursue any opportunity their future presents.​


In September 2015, HIDOE received a $1.5 million grant to provide STEM learning opportunities to K-8 students at eight military-impacted schools in West Oahu over the next fiv​e years. To learn more about the grant, click here​

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