(SPRINGFIELD, Ky.) – Kimberly Mattingly, a math and aerospace teacher at Washington County High School, recently attended the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association High School Aviation STEM Symposium at American Airlines Flight Academy and CR Smith Museum in Fort Worth, Texas in November. According to it’s website, the AOPA’s mission is protect the freedom to fly by advocating on behalf of our members, educating pilots, non-pilots and policy makers, supporting activities the ensure the long-term health of general aviation, fighting to keep general aviation accessible to all, and securing sufficient resources to ensure success.
Mattingly is 2004 graduate of Washington County High School. She received a bachelor of science in middle school education, mathematics and social studies from Campbellsville University in 2008 and a master of arts in secondary education and computer science in 2010. She has taught math for nine years and is in her eighth year of teaching at WCHS and in her first year of teaching aerospace and aviation. The AOPA is developing an aviation curriculum aligned with Common Core Standards in math, reading and writing, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, and is providing the curriculum to field test school free of charge, with a goal to grow the pilot population. WCHS is one of only 29 schools in the United States participating in the program.
As part of the program, Mattingly participates in ongoing trainings and meetings where field test teachers discuss the curriculum, work through projects, provide feedback and suggest ways to improve the curriculum. During her training in Texas, Mattingly says she learned about efforts to expand Career and Technical Education programs. “I was surprised to learn that in the US alone, approximately 235,000 new jobs will be available in the next 20 years for pilots and technicians due to retirements and growth in the industry,” she says. “I gathered information to take back to my students about the expense involved in getting a technician or pilot certification and the job prospects available in those fields.” Mattingly says she was also able to spend time in the aviation curriculum and discuss with others how this content aligns to math and science standards. “At WCHS, we have a goal that all teachers will use authentic applications in their content areas to improve student achievement,” she said.
“At the symposium I learned how some of the aviation content could be used in algebra, geometry or science to engage students in those classes as well. We were [also] able to work through several lab experiments we plan to implement in our classrooms. I benefitted from working through these types of tasks with other teachers because we come from various backgrounds in either math, science or aviation.” Mattingly was also able to tour the American Airlines Flight Academy and experience the flight simulators used by its commercial pilots for training.
“The STEM Symposium was an eye-opening experience that left me more aware of the possibilities our students have if they choose to pursue a career in aviation,” says Mattingly. “Networking with other teachers and seeing projects they use with their students helped me discover resources that are available to help grow the program here at WCHS.”
WCHS principal Malissa Hutchins called the training a “fantastic experience” for Mattingly. “It was actually a requirement for her to attend this conference when we added the aerospace program,” said Hutchins. “The benefit of her going was that she was able to see how other schools are incorporating the aerospace program to meet the needs of their students, and beyond that, the needs of their communities. The ideas that she was able to bring back to our students will expose them to even more knowledge along this pathway. The future demand for people in this field of study is growing exponentially daily. The fact that our students here at WCHS have the opportunity to explore this is incredible!”