What’s Working Report: Woodville-Tompkins Aviation Pathway Helps Students Soar

(Savannah) It may be one of the coolest classrooms you’ll ever encounter- complete with state of the art technology.

Welcome to Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School Flight Operations- one of only four such pathways in the state.

Linda Minor is the school’s flight instructor and work base learning coordinator. She says learning to fly is just part of the program.

“They do get to learn to fly on our simulators but they also have to learn about the engine systems; they have to learn about our airplane components; they have to learn about all of the FAA rules-when we started today, we were going over regulations. They have to know about airspace- how to communicate and use the radio. It’s a full gamut of anything you need for basics for the careers in aviation,” Minor says.

The curriculum is rigorous.
“This is truly a STEM course. The students need to know math. They need to know science. My students come out of here as a amateur meteorologists.”

In addition to classroom knowledge, Minor says students are also taught employability skills.

“They learn to make business cards. They learn to do resumes. They learn to do cover letters. And this year, I’ve even incorporated social etiquette, table etiquette, communication skills.”

The goal- to help them seamlessly transition from high school to career or higher education upon graduation.

“We have many careers in aviation and very few of them lead to becoming a pilot. So, what I do with this course is make it a foundation for any aviation career.”

Eric Behan is focused on engineering. He’s already gaining real world experience through the pathways program.

The high school senior’s desire to tinker with technology has landed him a paid apprenticeship at Gulfstream Aerospace.

“What these internships allow me to do is they allow me to get work experience to get that first job and avoid getting into a cycle where I can’t get a job because I don’t have work experience but then, I can’t get work experience because I don’t have a job,” Behan  explains.

Ben West is also getting a jump start on his career- through the school’s work-based learning program. He spends his mornings in class and afternoons at Savannah Aviation.

His dream is to become a corporate jet pilot. So, he’s taking his classroom knowledge to the next level by applying what he’s learned in school to earn his wings.

“I can’t really work on the planes, because I’m not an a&p mechanic,” says West. “I’m not ready to do that… but I can help them out servicing all of the stuff.”

Many of the students leave school with certifications that allow them to go directly into the work place.  For example, Ben has already taken the FAA Private Pilot Written Exam as part of the process of becoming a pilot.

“The things they teach here usually costs a lot of money,” West says. “My dad had to do it. It costs a fortune. To do this- to get the written in and take the flight training after that. So, to have all this for free in school is really good. It helps people out. If you’re interested in it, it’s the best way to do it.”

Which means for these students, Minor says, the sky is the limit.
“I’ve just seen wonderful things happen to students that otherwise wouldn’t have opportunities- go places with their lives and make something of themselves.”

Woodville-Tompkins currently offers 15 specialty programs. From Automobile Maintenance & Light Repair to Nursing and culinary arts.

Minor says Students who participate in career high school pathway training have a higher graduation rate overall throughout the nation. In fact, Woodville-Tompkins’ first graduating class- the class of 2015- achieved a 100% graduation rate with Scholarships totaling more than a million dollars.

For more information on Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School, click here.

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