Project Lead The Way

Learning Teams

Teacher-led collaboration

Teacher collaboration is critical for student success. Learning Teams are a forum for teachers to work together to solve problems, learn, and share resources. Organized by standout teachers, Learning Teams are groups of PLTW teachers who teach similar programs or courses.

Join a Learning Team to: Collaborate, learn, and celebrate with fellow PLTW teachers!

  • Connect with a highly collaborative, innovative educator culture.
  • Discuss your practice with peers to solve problems.
  • Learn about student and teacher programming to enhance your PLTW program (e.g. student events, PD, industry connections).
  • Access industry events: Opportunities to engage with industry professionals outside of the classroom to inform and enhance the PLTW experience for students.

Being part of the middle school CS Learning Team has been so helpful to connect with other teachers who are teaching the same courses I am and coming across the same challenges. It’s great to have a place to problem solve with fellow teachers.

Middle School PLTW teacher
Participant in Gateway Computer Science Learning Team

How Learning Teams Work

Learning Teams are organized and led by teachers. Teams set their own goals and decide how to work together.

  • Learning Teams consist of PLTW educators who teach the same PLTW program and/or course
  • Teams are coordinated by a Community Lead – a standout MA PLTW teacher who plans events and helps the team connect virtually and in person
  • Teams set their own goals and decide together on the best way to collaborate – with the added resource of Mass STEM Hub
  • Team members commit to being active participants by sharing & learning with and from each other

It is so great to be able to share resources with other PLTW teachers through the learning teams. Last year was so much better with the help of my Community Lead and Learning Team.

PLTW Biomedical Science teacher
Participant in Biomedical Science Learning Team

Meet the Community Leads

Elementary School (Launch)

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Nick Frank

West Brookfield Elementary School, West Brookfield, MA

Nick Frank is a computer teacher and tech specialist at West Brookfield Elementary School. He teaches computer classes and fixes tech issues in the afternoons. In the mornings, Nick teaches PLTW to students in grades K-6 and he sees every student in the school for PLTW. He loves being a PLTW teacher because it teaches students how to become engineers using hands-on problem based projects and that the students always come into the room with a smile. Nick’s students truly love PLTW and that is why he loves it too.

PLTW modules: Structure and Function: Exploring Design, Light and Sound, The Changing Earth, Stability and Motion: Science of Flight, Stability and Motion: Forces and Interactions, Infection: Detection

Wendy Marino

Woodland Elementary School, Milford, MA

Wendy Marino is a Lead Launch Teacher (LLT) at Woodland Elementary School in Milford, MA. Prior to becoming a LLT, Wendy was an Enrichment Teacher and 4th grade teacher for more than a decade. She obtained her M.Ed. in Elementary Education, specializing in STEM from Framingham State University and loves the direction her career has taken. As a PLTW teacher, Wendy is able to provide students with real-life, hands-on experiences they cannot access in their regular classrooms. Her students are excited to come and say they prefer her class to gym! Wendy is excited to be rolling out three new modules for a total of six that she will be teaching this year and she looks forward to her students becoming more engaged in STEM, as well as developing very important soft skills along the way.

PLTW modules: Stability and Motion: Science of Flight, Programming Patterns, Energy: Conversions, Input/Output: Computer Systems, Robotics & Automation, Infection: Detection

Middle School (Gateway)

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Ashley Puopolo

Stoneham Central Middle School, Stoneham, MA

Ashley Puopolo is a STEM Specialist for Stoneham Central Middle School. She will be entering her 5th year as a Massachusetts PLTW teacher. Being a PLTW teacher has allowed for many collaborative opportunities with industry leaders, top higher education institutions and a cohort of colleagues who love bringing STEM education and real-world opportunities to their students. One such experience as a PLTW educator was participating in the Boston Children’s Hospital Student Showcase of a Therapeutic Toy Design Challenge for a patient with Cerebral Palsy. Her educational strengths are best demonstrated through her technology integration and modification of design challenges. In particular, Ashley is developing new methods of digitizing PLTW curriculum, including design challenges, engineering notebooks, Slide Guides and various Google tools to create fun and engaging projects and activities.

PLTW courses: Automation & Robotics, Flight & Space, Design & Modeling, Medical Detectives, Science of Technology

Chakara Cardillo

Randolph Community Middle School, Randolph, MA

Spotlight teacher, ballroom competitor, Rose Scholar, pageant queen and PLTW certified instructor are just a few ways to describe Chakara Cardillo. Chakara has her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Med and minor in Chemistry. As a fierce believer in providing opportunities for minorities, Chakara creates countless possibilities for students to become successful because she believes in the potential of young people. Chakara continues to engage her students about problem solving strategies for today’s evolving society with the use of PLTW believing PLTW will help students migrate towards STEM in their education. She sees herself as an educator who is a lifelong learner as a graduate of the Leadership Institute at college and Leadership Institute in Randolph. She handles her journey as a teacher and leader with impeccable grace and great timing, always moving forward and never forgetting to reach out to those who need a hand.

PLTW courses: Science & Technology and Design & Modeling

Ginger Lavelle

Sandwich STEM Academy, Sandwich, MA

Ginger Lavelle teaches 7th Grade PLTW Design and Modeling to all 7th grade students at Sandwich STEM Academy, a public school in Sandwich. This is Ginger’s 5th year teaching engineering. Prior to working as an engineering teacher, Ginger taught 8th grade and high school math. Ten years ago, Ginger made a career change from Computer Engineering to teaching. She loves instilling a love of engineering in students by creating an authentic applied learning experience. PLTW provides a rigorous curriculum that is engaging for all her students.

PLTW courses: Design & Modeling

Keith Michon

Kuss Middle School, Fall River, MA

Keith Michon teaches 6th grade math and Computer Science for Innovators and Makers. Keith is in his 10th year of teaching at Kuss Middle School in Fall River. He started teaching PLTW courses in 2015 with Introduction to Computer Science. Keith loves that as a PLTW teacher, he is able to give students the opportunity to solve problems creatively and is energized by the robust ideas and solutions students develop.

PLTW courses: Computer Science for Innovators and Makers

High School Biomedical Science

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Jessica Meade

Plymouth South High School, Plymouth, MA

Jessica Meade teaches at Plymouth South High School and is in her 11th year of teaching. Prior to being a science teacher, Jessica worked as a pediatric chiropractor for 12 years. A combination of an injury, a family of educators, and great luck led Jessica to the high school classroom, which has been an incredible, joyous learning experience for her. PLTW’s Biomedical Program has given Jessica a way to blend her medical training with the best science lesson designs. PLTW’s curriculum settles the teacher in a role that feels very natural to Jessica, as a guide for her students as they explore the science for themselves. The 2019-20 school year is Jessica’s 5th year teaching PLTW’s Biomedical Science courses, and she is teaching the 4th course in the progression, Biomedical Innovations. Jessica has training in all four courses and has also taught Anatomy, Forensic Science and Biology. The new Community Lead Program is giving Jessica a way to help other teachers develop the course into their own. Jessica knows the new course and understands the struggles of new Biomed teachers and she is ready to help them find their happy place.

PLTW courses: Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions, Biomedical Innovations

High School Computer Science

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Jess Mullen

BMC Durfee High School, Fall River

High School Engineering

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Mike Smutok

Uxbridge High School, Uxbridge, MA

Mike Smutok is currently a Technology/Engineering teacher at Uxbridge High School. He has been teaching for 16 years and has his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Technology/ Education. He currently teaches four Project Lead the Way courses, as well as elective courses in manufacturing and construction engineering. He is certified 5- 12 Technology/ Engineering. Mr. Smutok is also a Science Olympiad assistant coach and has served as a mentor teacher at Uxbridge High School. Mike loves how PLTW has many open-ended problems and teaching engineering has been very rewarding. PLTW has also allowed him to continue to teach students about design and manufacturing, two subjects he is passionate about. When Mr. Smutok is not teaching, he enjoys fishing, woodworking, and spending time with his family and dog.

PLTW Courses: Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and Engineering Design and Development

Anna Seiders

Everett High School STEM Academy

PLTW Courses:  Engineering Design and Development, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Principles of Engineering