As students across our state return to school, it’s important to remember that a successful year in our classrooms means ensuring they are excited about learning and have opportunities to challenge themselves. Students do best, and are motivated to learn, when they believe that their studies are relevant to their future. They struggle, or worse yet, drop out, when they don’t see the connection between their education and the real world. This year our STEM Council is bringing new, hands-on science activities into our middle and high schools. And our students will be exposed to career paths in our fastest growing industries by working directly with professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM. We’ve also partnered with the Manufacturing Association, with Delaware Tech, and schools districts on a pilot program that offers high schoolers the chance to receive the training, skills, and nationally recognized certificates that they need to be ready for the workplace by the time they graduate. When students are working with high-tech manufacturing equipment in addition to reading from a textbook, they excel. Now, we also know students fall behind when they aren’t challenged. Research shows that more than ten percent of students who are on a path to being college ready when they take the PSAT in 10th grade fall off of that path by the time they take the SAT in 11th grade. When students stop taking challenging courses and pushing themselves, they stop growing. That’s not just true for our sophomores and juniors. It’s true for every student in every grade. By committing to make school relevant and engaging for our students, and asking our students to work hard and push themselves, we’ll have a successful school year and we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.