Podcast: Vince Bertram on Transformative Learning Experiences

Today the team is talking with Vince Bertram, the President, and CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW, @PLTWorg), a nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experiences for PK–12 students and teachers across the U.S.

Bertram grew up in a small town east of Indianapolis, where his teachers inspired him to study education. After serving as a Principal in several schools, Bertram served as Superintendent in a southern Indiana district. Eight years ago, Bertram took on the leadership of Project Lead the Way, which began as a small nonprofit STEM curriculum provider. Today, PLTW serves 12,000 U.S. PK–12 schools and helps prepare millions of young people for high wage employment.

In today’s episode, Tom Vander Ark interviews Vince Bertram on the growing impact that PLTW has on millions of students and the details of each of their pathways and programs from PreK–grade 12. They also speak about the work they’ve done to make PLTW more accessible and equitable, some of the new assessments. Vince describes how STEM are transferable and outlines some advice from his book, Dream Differently.

Vince is dedicated to transforming the PK-12 education system to ensure it prepares students to succeed in work and life. Tune in to hear all that he is doing and get the inside scoop about PLTW.

Key Takeaways:
[3:30] How Vince became a superintendent.
[4:54] Vince looks back at the incredible growth he helped orchestrate at PLTW and elaborates on some of the things that played a role in it.
[7:11] Why PLTW started their elementary program, Launch.
[8:32] What the Launch curriculum looks like.
[9:46] Vince speaks about PLTW’s middle school program, Gateway.
[10:30] About PLTW’s high school pathways: computer science, bio-med, and engineering.
[11:20] How many school district partners does PLTW have that are PK–12?
[12:03] How Vince has aided in making Project Lead the Way more accessible and equitable.
[14:42] Say a Principal wants more of a STEM focus at his school, why should he consider Project Lead the Way?
[17:02] Vince speaks about some of the new assessments they may be piloting this year.
[19:09] Will these assessments become a part of the core offering?
[19:26] What else PLTW has done to help accessibility and equity.
[19:52] Vince summarizes some of the key learnings from his book, Dream Differently.
[23:13] Why PLTW focuses on STEM as well as helping students build transportable skills.

Mentioned in This Episode:
Vince Bertram
Project Lead the Way (PLTW)
PLTW Launch (PreK–5)
PLTW Gateway (6–8)
PLTW Computer Science (9–12)
PLTW Biomedical Science (9–12)
PLTW Engineering (9–12)
Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks For Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning, by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns
“The Power of Transportable Skills: Assessing the Demand and Value of the Skills of the Future,” Report by PLTW and Burning Glass
Dream Differently: Candid Advice for America’s Students, by Vince Bertram

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with innovations in learning by signing up for the weekly Smart Update.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Subscribe to Our Podcast

This podcast highlights developing trends in K-12 education, postsecondary and lifelong learning. Each week, Getting Smart team members interview students, leading authors, experts and practitioners in research, tech, entrepreneurship and leadership to bring listeners innovative and actionable strategies in education leadership.

Find us on:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.