Joplin Area Catholic Schools to present at regional conference

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Local biomedical science program and partnership set to inspire others

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin Area Catholic Schools (JACS) was selected to present its implementation of the Mercy Hospital Joplin partnership for the biomedical science program at McAuley Catholic High School during the Project Lead the Way Summit in Kansas City.

The Kansas City PLTW Summit, Nov. 14-16, is one of five summits held throughout the country. Teachers, school administrators, businesses, community leaders and others attend the PLTW Summit to learn and connect about helping and empowering today’s students.

“We were contacted by the regional director of PLTW and asked to submit a proposal to present on our partnership with Mercy and how we got the program off the ground,” said Tracey Welch, St. Peter’s Catholic Middle and McAuley Catholic High School principal. “We are thrilled about the opportunity to share our experience with other schools who are looking to implement a PLTW program.”

The JACS and Mercy partnership for PLTW launched in August with Alicia Abruzzo, a science teacher at McAuley. Abruzzo underwent an intensive training period to master the program and learn how to encourage students in a hands-on classroom experience. Students also have access to shadowing opportunities through Mercy under the partnership and through the PLTW program.

“Students in the JACS system are already benefiting from this hands-on learning environment,” said Mercy Hospital Joplin President Gary Pulsipher. “We hope our partnership inspires and paves the way for other schools to implement a program in their area. It is a successful investment in the future of students and the hospital.”

McAuley Catholic High School implemented the program’s biomedical science course and plans to add classes each year. PLTW offers a variety of courses that appeal to more than high school level students. Though this is the beginning of a partnership between Mercy and the Joplin Area Catholic Schools, they hope it will expand to younger students in other grades.

Welch presents at the summit with Dr. Doretta Fox, JACS technology coordinator.

Mercy Joplin includes Mercy Hospital Joplin, a new hospital with the latest technology, unprecedented “storm-hardened” features and 240 beds, as well as 82 clinic and outpatient locations and more than 100 physicians. It’s part of Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2018, 2017 and 2016 by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Joplin Area Catholic Schools was founded in 1885 by Sister Catherine McAuley’s Sisters of Mercy, the Joplin Area Catholic Schools System serves the greater Joplin community to educate Catholic and non-Catholic children from Preschool through grade 12 at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School, St. Peter’s Catholic Middle School and McAuley Catholic High School. JACSS’ goal is to teach young people to integrate Christian values into all aspects of life. The system endeavors to graduate young adults who are effective witnesses to the presence of Christ in the world. Visit for more information about the schools.



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