South Bend Schools Growing Use of STEM Program

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The South Bend Community School Corp. is expanding the use of Indianapolis-based Project Lead the Way Inc.'s programming. The city is investing more than $540,000 into implementing the science, technology, engineering and math initiative in nearly two dozen schools. August 14, 2014

News Release

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Department of Community Investment outlined the terms on Thursday to allow the South Bend Community School Corporation to implement the nation's largest STEM education program, Project Lead the Way. The expansion of the program, which is scheduled to begin shortly after the new school year begins, was officially announced this morning. "It's vital that our children learn the principles of these fields," says Dr. Carole Schmidt, superintendent of the South Bend Community School Corporation. "This is a path to future success with measurable benefits that extend to society at-large." The expansion of Project Lead the Way, which previously had been offered only at Riley High School and Kennedy Primary Academy, gives students in kindergarten through high school a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning, Schmidt says.

"Sixty-five percent of scientists and graduate students developed their interest in science in elementary school, according to one study," says Michelle Engel, president of the South Bend School Board. "Engaging students now builds confidence, grows interest, and puts South Bend students on a course for strong accomplishments in middle school, high school, and beyond."

Project Lead the Way courses are aligned with Common Core state standards for math and English language arts, Next Generation Science Standards, and other national and state standards. Studies have shown that Project Lead the Way positively influences students' career interests, with more than 93 percent leaving the program intending to pursue a college degree.

"It's an exciting venture," says Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County who helped secure grant money, along with United Way of St. Joseph County, to expand the program in South Bend. "We're preparing for future economic growth by making sure the next generation has the skills to thrive."

The Department of Community Investment requested that the South Bend Redevelopment Commission commit $542,716 to support Project Lead the Way over three years. The partnership will support implementation of the program in 21 South Bend primary and intermediate centers located within city boundaries, and South Bend's New Tech High School, impacting over 11,000 students.

"Investing in Project Lead the Way helps the South Bend schools continue to develop critical skills that our children will need to be successful," says Deputy Mayor Mark Neal. "Engaging more students in STEM education at an earlier age will have a long-term positive impact on the individuals involved and on our entire community."

Source: the City of South Bend