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NLMUSD instructors among country’s elite in science education

Los Alisos Teachers Tapped to ‘Lead the Way’

NORWALK – Two teachers at Los Alisos Middle School are among an elite few in the country who were chosen to be “Master Teachers” with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

Angelica Gunderson and Kelly Garcia will spend a few weeks this summer training teachers from around the country PLTW’s Gateway to Technology Medical Detectives curriculum, in which students analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a make-believe crime scene. The hands-on curriculum includes lab projects, measuring and interpreting vital signs, and learning how the human body’s systems work.

Gunderson and Garcia, who teach seventh- and eighth-grade science, respectively, were two of 30 teachers in the medical detective curriculum pilot program last year and applied to be Master Teachers for the official launch.

“Project Lead the Way is an elite program and it’s highly regarded for STEM,” Garcia said. “We wanted to be a part of that.”

PTLW courses are developed with teachers and STEM professionals working hand-in-hand. As Master Teachers, Gunderson and Garcia will facilitate learning for groups of teachers who will take the program to their classrooms.

“To be part of something like this is amazing,” Gunderson said.

The program has been recognized by colleges and universities, Fortune 500 business and several other organizations. PTLW programs are utilized in 5,000 schools across the country, including those at Norwalk-La Mirada Unified. The curriculum is also aligned with the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and is college prep.

“Ms. Gunderson and Ms. Garcia are cutting-edge instructors who are deeply committed to learning more to enhance the education of their students,” said NLMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ruth Pérez. “Project Lead the Way curriculum has been instrumental in increased interest in science and test scores. It is an honor that two of our very own are going to help bring it to other schools.”

In addition to Los Alisos, all high schools within the District have PLTW Engineering Pathways and plans are underway to expand to other pathways in the areas of aerospace engineering, civil engineering and architecture, computer science and software engineering.

“It is very rare for PLTW Master Teachers to be from the same school district, much less the same school,” said NLMUSD Board of Education President Margarita Rios. “I commend Ms. Gunderson and Ms. Garcia for being so dedicated and serving as such wonderful role models for students who look forward to careers in STEM fields.”

Photo Captions

PTLW: Kelly Garcia, left, and Angelica Gunderson were chosen to be two of only 30 “medical detective” Master Teachers for Project Lead the Way, the nation’s leading provider of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

LAB: Los Alisos Middle School Physical Science Teacher Kelly Garcia aids students in a dissection of a sheep’s brain. The brain dissection is a lesson within the Project Lead the Way medical detective curriculum, of which Garcia and colleague Angelica Gunderson will become Master Teachers.