Even after many years of doing Adopt-a-Pilot, I am still astounded at the benefits I receive as I am trying to give a little of my time to these students—this year is certainly no exception. I was asked by the fine ladies in the Adopt-a-Pilot Program (and they are simply the best) to be adopted by Plano Senior High School (in Plano, Texas) with a very special group of students. The excitement and energy when I first entered the room was as thick as a London fog—these kids were jazzed that a Southwest Airlines Pilot would take time to come and teach them about airplanes, careers, and just life. (My Class has varying degrees of needs, most are hearing impaired and have special learning needs—but their enthusiasm and smiles were contagious!).
Working through the teacher, she “signed” to them everything I was saying out loud (and trying to say) and these kids hung on every word—any awkwardness quickly faded away, and soon we were communicating with each other like fast friends! After I had learned their names, they quickly realized I needed a “sign name” (a pretty darn cool one I might add), and then the questions began to flow. How fast does an airplane fly? How high can it fly? How fast are you going when it lands? The genuine interest almost brings a tear to my eye as I reflect back on our time—none of these kids will be able to fly an airplane—still their interests and desires were like everyone else. The class went nuts when I got out old uniforms, flight suits, helmets, etc., and let them put them on—we had so much fun laughing and teasing each other.
In the end, I walked out with my heart full—feeling like I had gained infinitely more than I had given. Of my entire adopted classrooms, this one meant the most to me. What if? What if I hadn’t accepted, and carved out a little time? I would have missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life. There are gems waiting on us to come and pour ourselves into them. I have come to realize, in the end I was the one being “poured into.” I cannot wait to head back and visit with some charming and special people—better get to it.