Vinton-Shellsburg High School Receives National Recognition for Commitment to Empowering Students

Named a distinguished school for STEM and career learning program

Vinton, IA – Vinton-Shellsburg High School, has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Computer Science and Engineering. VSHS is one of just four high schools in Iowa to receive this honor.

“It’s an amazing program. The kids like it, it’s all project based and completely different from a lot of the classes going on in this building.” Said Marsha Furlong, VSHS Computer Programming, and Engineering teacher. “It’s a class where kids WANT to be, and when the bell rings they can’t believe it’s over already. It’s engaging; it’s fun. That’s what makes me so excited about the program.”



The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, VSHS had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three PLTW courses;
  • Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
  • Have 70 percent of students or more earn a Proficient or higher on PLTW End-of-Course Assessments, or 10 percent of students earn the AP + PLTW Student Achievement.

“We are thrilled that our program has received national recognition,” says Mary Jo Hainstock, Vinton-Shellsburg superintendent of schools. “Our STEM education is especially strong in part because our PLTW instructor, Ms. Furlong, is a very skilled instructor with experience and a passion for Computer Programming and Engineering. Each summer she spends several weeks at a university or major city, teaching the PLTW program to teachers from schools across the country. Staff dedicated to providing students with excellent learning opportunities is why Vinton-Shellsburg has so many outstanding programs like Project Lead The Way.”

Through PLTW programs, students develop STEM knowledge as well as in-demand, transportable skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take.

“It is a great honor to recognize Vinton-Shellsburg High School for their commitment to students,” said Vince Bertram, President, and CEO of PLTW. “They are a model for what school should look like, and they should be very proud of ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

For more information on Vinton-Shellsburg’s PLTW program, contact Superintendent Hainstock at 319-436-4728 Ext. 5685.

Watch a short video highlighting Project Lead The Way on the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District Youtube page or by clicking here.