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AOPA curriculum earns (more) high praise from educators

Two schools incorporating the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum into their lesson plans won the Grand Prize in the twenty-ninth annual National School Board Association’s Magna Awards program.

Photo by Chris Rose.

The Magna Awards program “recognizes school districts and their leaders for their innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to address district challenges,” according to a news release from the National School Boards Association’s American School Board Journal, which sponsors the award.

Oklahoma’s Lawton Public Schools Life Ready Center won in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment segment, and Prince George’s County Public Schools Specialty Program: Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Technology in Maryland won in the over 20,000 enrollment segment.

Both programs use the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum as an academic foundation for their programs. The curriculum was created to help fill positions for over 600,000 pilots and 700,000 technicians needed in the airspace industry over the next 20 years. The free resource includes a menu of seven courses in pilot and drone pilot aviation STEM career and technical education pathways. The turnkey program is taught nationwide by nearly 700 teachers of varying content areas and levels of experience. The AOPA Foundation provides teacher training, access to online development resources, and ongoing teacher and program strategic planning support.

Glenn Ponas, director, high school outreach at the AOPA Foundation, reported that in the school year that just ended, 470 programs at 1,000 schools used the AOPA Foundation’s STEM curriculum in 47 states and Washington, D.C., serving 23,000 students, an increase from the preceding school year. He emphasized the program’s diversity by noting that 42 percent are students of color and 23 percent are female, ratios that far exceed the current pilot population.

The NSBA honor is not the first national recognition that AOPA has earned from professional educators. The program was featured in Education Week in 2022, part of a special report on teaching students to become adept problem-solvers.

The NSBA is the only national organization representing school boards. Its core purpose is to ensure that “each student everywhere has access to an excellent and equitable public education where they live, governed by high performing school board leaders” according to a statement on the website. To that extent NSBA works with the administration and Congress on challenges facing school board members. To be awarded top honors by this organization is “the Oscar for schools,” says Ponas.

Sylvia Schneider Horne
Digital Media Editor
Sylvia Schneider Horne is a digital media editor for AOPA's eMedia division.

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