The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) has chosen Velvet Thomas, a third grade teacher at Golden Poppy Elementary School in Palmdale, California, as the 2017 A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Educator of Year.
The award will be presented to Thomas during the 55th Annual Enshrinement Dinner and Ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 28, 2017.The Crossfield Award, founded in 1986 by NAHF enshrinee, engineer and test pilot A. Scott Crossfield (1921-2006), is an annual competition to recognize one K-12 teacher for his or her exemplary use of aerospace in their classroom curricula.
This year’s award recipient is celebrated for her hands-on approach to aviation education.
Thomas’ non-traditional lessons have included taking students to watch the Space Shuttle re-enter the atmosphere and visit the Sage Planetarium. Thomas has also held takeoff and landing simulations in class and even taught students the pilots alphabet.
“While most teachers say ‘no’ to paper airplanes in the classroom,” says Thomas’ colleague Jeff Greenberg, “her lessons have included making a paper hyper-jet to teach about jets and creating World War II paper airplanes to teach the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.”
Her students also regularly hear from guest speakers representing leading American aerospace organizations, including Northrop, Lockheed and NASA.
“Thomas embodies the Crossfield Award, and has inspired generations of students to dream about aviation as a career,” officials note.