Introducing Broad Ripple's newest school: Purdue Polytechnic High School

 

In our final blog post of the month, we wanted to highlight Purdue Polytechnic High School (“PPHS”), a school that provides opportunities for diverse students with the skills needed to prepare for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).  Supported by Purdue University to bridge the gap for diverse students and create a pipeline for their technical majors, PPHS has one location at the Circle Center Mall in Downtown Indy, and are opening another location in Broad Ripple this summer.

Purdue Polytechnic High School leaders: Ronni Moore, Karen Puffer, Aireal Anderson, and Tim Wright

Purdue Polytechnic High School leaders: Ronni Moore, Karen Puffer, Aireal Anderson, and Tim Wright

We believe what PPHS is doing is important for the diversity and inclusion conversation is because they are exposing diverse teenagers to careers in STEM at an early age.  If kids see careers in STEM as a possibility early on in their learning journey, it will increase the odds that they pursue these careers when it comes time for them to enter the workforce.  To learn more, we sat down with school leaders Ronni Moore, Karen Puffer, Aireal Anderson, and Tim Wright to learn more about PPHS and their unique approach.

Here are some questions we asked the team and their insights:

Q: What are some of the challenges your students are facing to become career-ready in STEM fields?

A: Some of the biggest challenges our students face is their responsibility they have to take care of their families and siblings. These personal responsibilities can make it difficult for them to focus on their future careers. Also, many of our students have not been exposed to STEM careers in their daily lives so it can be difficult for them to understand what is possible for their future.

Q: What is unique about your school compared to other high schools?

A: We are preparing students of color for STEM careers, and helping build a pipeline of diverse students for Purdue University.  In all of the educational curriculum, we use design thinking principles which help them to think creatively outside of the box. Our core values as a school are communication, collaboration, and innovation which are woven into every element of their education.  Finally, for disciplinary purposes we use Restorative Practices, which focuses on restoring relationships that have been broken instead of a punitive approach that penalizes and excludes students from participation in the community.

Q: What can technology companies in Indiana do to support your school & programs?

A: It is important for tech companies to create more points of contact with these students and the workforce they are wanting to build. They can do this by volunteering in schools like PPHS that are more diverse and providing opportunities for our students to learn more about their company and the technologies they use. By creating opportunities for more face-to-face interactions through clubs or internships, it helps to bridge the gap between academia and application in a variety of tech careers.

Q: What can technology companies do to become more diverse, and to attract and retain diverse talent?

A: First, identify the diversity champions within your organization and let those employees lead the diversity movement in the right direction. Second, ideate on how your organization can intertwine values of diversity and inclusion into every aspect of the organization. Third, create more opportunities for students of color to attend events at your company or at conferences your company attends that allows students to see the future of the tech industry and where they can potentially fit in careers.

We are excited to see the growth of Purdue Polytechnic High School continues to do in the lives of their students, in the community, and how they will impact the STEM industries in the years to come. For more information about PPHS and how you can get more involved with their mission, visit https://pphs.purdue.edu/.  

 
Gracen Perdue