Twelve teachers responsible for instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related subjects are on the cutting edge of leadership development by stepping out of their normal routines and into the cockpit of an airplane with the Leaders Take Flight workshop. This educational adventure will take place on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, at Alexandria Field (N85) in Hunterdon County, N.J.
Participants represent schools from throughout the region, including Rutgers University, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Raritan Valley Community College, Hunterdon County Polytech, Delaware Valley Regional High School and Alexandria Township Middle School.
The Leaders Take Flight workshops are one component of a demonstration project that expands the role of a general aviation airport, Alexandria Field, as an educational resource and living laboratory in the community, airport officials said. This aviation-education collaborative was recognized by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) in September 2010, and awarded a Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program (GAMTTEP) grant of $100,000. The grant, along with numerous in-kind resources from the local community is funding over 20 educational programs, including two Take Flight workshops. The June event is for teachers and another is scheduled in August for young women students from local high schools.
“The objective of the collaborative is to encourage the development of STEM related careers for women and other underserved populations,” said Linda Castner, the Central Jersey GAMTTEP program director. “The unique aspect of this collaborative is using the resources of a general aviation outlet for new STEM learning and encourage not only development of the individual, but create an awareness regarding careers in the aviation workforce. These Take Flight workshops use airplanes as a learning environment.”
During this two-day intensive program, 12 female teachers will delve into management development using flight. Through a carefully designed series of experiential learning exercises, the airplane and its related activities serve as metaphors for successful leadership behaviors that can be used in everyday challenges.
Karen Batista, a science teacher at Hunterdon Central, anticipates taking the experience of the Take Flight workshop to her classroom, and describe what she observed and learned to empower her female students: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘oh, I’m not smart enough for that!’. And yet, these very same girls stand at the top of their class. So the program’s purpose of increasing self confidence, self respect, self esteem, and empowerment are goals that ring true for me.”
The workshop will unfold in three dimensions. It will provide the flying experience itself, an analysis of the experience as it unfolds, and a capitalization on the effects of the adrenaline rush and the high-pressure situation. The workshop is comprised of classroom instruction and experiential activities, including two hours of flight instruction and one hour of ground instruction with a typical training aircraft.
Workshop facilitators include Dr. Sue Stafford of Simmons College and Linda Castner of Alexandria Field as ground facilitators. Rich Stowell, an internationally recognized flight instructor from Santa Paula, California, Sarah Brooks, a flight instructor at Auburn University, and Andy Phillips, a flight instructor at Alexandria Field, are the flight facilitators.
For more information: AlexandriaField.com