When I think of “back to school” season, I can close my eyes and smell the freshly sharpened pencils, hear the sound of the passing bells, and feel the butterflies of excitement for new possibilities ahead. With back-to-school season in full swing, Southwest Airlines is getting into the spirit of the season and celebrating with our many educational partners. One school that is especially close to our hearts is the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), a Chicago public charter school and a close neighbor to our Chicago Midway (MDW) operations.
Throughout the year, we love engaging with the school and creating opportunities for students to explore the vast number of career opportunities within the aviation industry. Recently, our Chicago-based Cohearts rolled out the red carpet to welcome AGC’s 50 first-grade students to a very special behind-the-scenes tour of our MDW operation. While on the tour, the students were able to board a plane (some had never been on an airplane before), sit in the flight deck, meet Southwest Pilots, and even stand on the tarmac, where they watched planes take off and land. Seeing the reactions from the kids, and even the chaperones, never gets old!
"This was such an amazing opportunity for our students. We serve many low-income families who might not have the financial means to travel on an airplane, but now they can tell everyone they have seen one up close and know more about how air travel works. They learned about jobs in our neighborhood that might open possibilities for them in the future," said Cynthia Garcia, a first-grade teacher from the Academy of Global Citizenship (AGC).
Since its founding in 2005, experiential learning and real-world experiences have been paramount to AGC's educational teachings. The academy is home to kindergarten through 8th grade and serves the southwest side of Chicago. Every six weeks, students dive into learning about a new topic that spans the whole school day and is integrated into all subject areas.
"This was such a cool experience as a teacher, as an adult, because most of the adults on our tour had never had this kind of behind-the-scenes experience! We were all looking at each other in wonder. Many of my children kept saying, ‘I will always remember this day,’ and I will always remember it too!" said Marlene Galvez, another AGC first-grade teacher. Her student, Olivia D. explained, "Our trip was so special. We were going outside to see the plane just like the workers at the airport. I learned that even when people are in their seats, there is still a lot of work to do to keep everybody safe and get the plane going."
Southwest’s support of AGC goes beyond airport tours. For more than a decade, Southwest has made it possible for AGC’s 8th-grade students and chaperones to travel for their annual Service Learning Trips. In May 2023, the students traveled to Puerto Rico to help restore the mangrove forests that are so integral to the natural ecosystems of the island and to engage in a variety of cultural exchange experiences that will have a positive effect on the lives of these young people for years to come.
Southwest is also helping to ensure the school has the tools to help its students thrive. We recently donated a large number of laptops, tablets, and other supplies that will enhance the school’s space at its new campus.
This fall, AGC will move into a new home at the net-positive energy Cultivate Collective development located within a short walk from their current campus. In addition to housing AGC’s K-8 public school, this new hub will launch an Early Childhood Center, Health Care Center, three-acre urban farm, and community programming leveraging on-site teaching kitchens, walking trails, and more.
With Southwest’s commitment to loving People, building resilience, and living responsibly, we invest in partnerships like these to support organizations that create real opportunities for individuals in the communities we serve. Southwest is proud to partner with organizations like AGC as they develop the youth of today for the leadership of tomorrow.
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