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AOPA courses to help NYC high schoolers 'soar'AOPA courses to help NYC high schoolers 'soar'

A New York City public high school will teach the AOPA You Can Fly program’s ninth-grade science, technology, engineering and math curriculum in an expansion of career-education offerings made possible by a $2.65-million infusion from the city.

Jonas DeLeon shows off a completed group project. Photo by Christopher Rose.

In a joint announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said the city will invest the $2.65 million “in structural and program investments to create a state-of-the-art, 21st-century flagship STEM center with a focus on aviation and robotics at Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics.”

The project “includes an FAA approved aviation training simulator,” and builds on a previous $2.7-million investment to make the school “a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics hub for Northern Manhattan,” according to the announcement. Gregorio Luperon High opened a robotics lab in the 2017-18 school year and has developed the aviation program “and a four-year STEM sequence that culminates in advanced coursework including AP Physics, AP Biology, AP Computer Science, AP Calculus, and Advanced Robotics.”

"To be the fairest big city in the nation, New York City's kids need to believe they can soar in any field," de Blasio said. "This investment will give students hands-on opportunities to learn the valuable STEM skills they need to compete in a 21st century economy."

AOPA’s You Can Fly program is building aviation STEM curriculum for high schools across the country, and ultimately will offer comprehensive four-year aviation study options aligned to rigorous math and science standards used in many states. The courses, in four-year technical education pathways, direct students toward pilot and unmanned aircraft systems (drones) career options. The ninth-grade courses in use during the 2018-19 school year are shared by all pathways, and all courses are available to schools free, thanks to generous donations to the AOPA Foundation, said Cindy Hasselbring, senior director of the AOPA You Can Fly High School Initiative.

Teacher and pilot

The 24 students—12 girls and 12 boys—who attend each Gregorio Luperon High School aviation class will receive the added benefit of the firsthand aviation experience of their instructor: Jonas DeLeon is a 900-hour private pilot who teaches mathematics and robotics, “and next year I’m going to teach aviation,” he said in an AOPA Live interview.

DeLeon said the 500-student school with a student body consisting of “one hundred percent newly arrived immigrants” has been successful preparing students for college in four years and encourages students to pursue engineering career tracks. The school continually seeks new projects—and aviation provides another avenue to explore, he said.

DeLeon said he was impressed by the hands-on qualities of the You Can Fly aviation STEM curriculum—a course characteristic he said would make aviation a “very popular” subject at his school.

‘Equity and excellence’

De Blasio and other officials toured the school’s robotics lab, with Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phil Thompson noting that “giving students the opportunity for hands-on STEM learning like they're getting in this program makes them better learners and prepares them for jobs of the future."

“As more students are excited to learn and connect what they're doing in the classroom to future opportunities, we move closer towards our goal of equity and excellence for all,” said Carranza.

"To achieve true and lasting equity in our city, we must empower our youth to dream and achieve their goals,” added Rodriguez, noting that the recent rounds of funding “will give the students at Gregorio Luperon High School the foundation they need to excel as professionals in STEM.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: You Can Fly, Youth, Aviation Education Programs

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