School supplies have taken over store aisles and yellow buses are returning to the roadways—it’s officially back to school season! As the school bell is ringing for children across the nation, our Pilots are also thinking about returning to the classroom with Southwest’s Adopt-A-Pilot Program. With program registration opening for Pilots this week, Southwest and AirTran Pilots have the opportunity to contribute and show their Servants’ Hearts to their local community through participating in the program.
Adopt-A-Pilot started in 1997 as a community outreach program and has grown from 50 classrooms to reaching more than 40,000 students nationwide. Each spring, Pilots are matched with a fifth-grade classroom of students and true to the SOUTHWEST SPIRIT, Pilots make learning FUN every year with creative lesson plans and inventive projects. Between the Adopt-A-Pilot guide and the Pilot’s imagination, the sky is truly the limit—and no two Pilots teach their class the same way.
Pilots can tailor the program to their classroom, like Joe Rzeszotko did in O'Fallon, Missouri. The teachers at his school asked for him to provide a heavy emphasis on math and science, and Joe just so happens to have an engineering degree. He borrowed some aeronautical equipment and was able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of how airplanes work to his eager fifth-grade students.
Kevin Ellis and Joe McKamey also went above and beyond with the class they co-taught in Peachtree City, Georgia. They arranged for a field trip to the AirTran Training Center in Atlanta, where their lucky students experienced hands-on emergency equipment training, viewed the cabin smoke trainers, and climbed in life rafts. Kevin and Joe also arranged for two Simulator Instructors to show the children the simulator, fly a pattern, and land. Their 45 students definitely had a day to remember!
The past 16 years of Adopt-A-Pilot have been a blast for the teachers, students, and Pilots alike and we can’t wait to see what the 2014 season will bring. With 9,000 Pilots volunteering for the 2012-2013 school year, we expect that this year will be even more FUN than last. Stay tuned for more glimpses into this program and the difference it is making in our communities!