There are a lot of Southwest "urban" legends about how an amazing and unique program that serves communities all across the country came to be born. In truth, the Adopt-a-Pilot program at Southwest Airlines was born out of a cooperative effort with the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum, the National Association of Teachers of Math, and other educational specialists.
The Adopt-a-Pilot program pairs volunteer Southwest Pilots with fifth grade classes across the country. The Pilot visits the classroom usually once a week over a four-week period. During these visits the students track their Pilot’s journey on a United States map and complete math, science, geography and creative arts activities that bring learning to life. What the students take away from the Adopt-a-Pilot program is the message that school is important and attaining future goals are possible through planning, hard work and determination.
The program started in 1997 with only 50 Pilots and 1,250 students. Today you will find more than 700 Southwest Pilots visiting more than 30,000 students annually. Recently, Southwest Pilot’s reports of active volunteer hours donated to schools and students exceeded 10,000 hours!
Ask any Pilot why they give so much time to their local schools and invariably they will tell you it’s the kids. Each child is so enthusiastic and eager to learn that the Pilot’s life is enriched as well. Numerous parents have commented that the Adopt-a-Pilot program has reignited a spark in their children’s lives and they enjoy learning once again. A teacher from Florida wrote that “one of the many benefits of having Adopt-a-Pilot in my classroom is the children have an opportunity to interact with someone who is a positive role model and who values and affirms each student.”
We expect the Adopt-a-Pilot program to grow even larger in 2010. New course materials and a more flexible curriculum will make it even easier for our Pilots to participate across the country. If you would like more information on the Adopt-A-Pilot program, please visit www.southwest.com/adoptapilot. Congratulations once again to Southwest Airlines and the over 700 Pilots currently in the Adopt-a-Pilot program. By volunteering over 10,000 hours of their time these Pilots are making a difference in the community--one classroom at a time.
For a video about this milestone, please click here.