Aviation class takes off at Sandwich High School

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Some students at Sandwich High School will soon have the chance to buckle up and take off on an aeronautical study trip.

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Business professor and private pilot Rob Jasey has designed a new aviation program as part of the public board’s Specialist High Skills Majors sector.

MHS programs allow students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests. The council offers a wide variety of SHSM programs focusing on agriculture, business, construction, environment, health and wellness, transportation, hospitality, and more.

Jasey plans to get the Aviation SHSM program off the ground next fall with interested Grade 11 students.

We use it for something else beyond the love of flying

“This course is designed to get kids thinking about career paths that are in demand and to make them aware of career paths that aren’t normally thought of,” Jasey said.

The course is focused on studying the ground school requirements to obtain a private pilot license, but it will be an interdisciplinary course that will also touch on aviation history, space and to a wide range of careers within the industry.

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Sandwich High School teacher Rob Jasey is pictured with a honeycomb flight yoke used to teach basic flight maneuvers for a new aviation studies course, Monday January 31, 2022.
Sandwich High School teacher Rob Jasey is pictured with a honeycomb flight yoke used to teach basic flight maneuvers for a new aviation studies course, Monday January 31, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Part of the requirement to receive approval from the Greater Essex County District School Board and Department of Education funding for an SHSM program is to demonstrate a clear employment need in that sector.

“We’re enjoying it for more than the love of flying,” Jasey said. “There are global deficits in the aviation industry. There are also opportunities for women. Less than 10% of pilots are women.

Students will learn maintenance, mechanics and aeronautical engineering.

Jasey is building two flight simulators and hopes to add two more in the future. He also wants to add lessons for future 12th graders like Jake Oliver.

“Getting my pilot’s license is like a lifelong desire for me,” said the 17-year-old grade 11 student. “It’s something I’ve wanted since I was little. There’s just something about being around airports and being around airplanes, that’s all that matters to me.

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Jasey understands this early affection for theft. He earned his pilot’s license as a teenager and seriously considered a career as a commercial pilot at one point.

After working for a pharmaceutical company, Jasey found he enjoyed the teaching aspect of his job the most and ended up going back to school for teachers.

In 2008, he created a Financial Literacy Program for the Board of Directors, which gave him some experience in curriculum writing and aviation program development.

Jasey said the timing was right with the support of Sandwich manager Rich Reid and board administration.

“Every year we can submit new programs from the SHSM sector,” council consultant Justin St. Pierre said of the funding process. “Generally, it takes a leader like Rob to gauge student interest and to assess industry needs with the local sector and beyond.”

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Now, St. Pierre, Jasey and others are working to forge industry partnerships that will lead to cooperative opportunities for aviation students.

“We know in Windsor we have growth in this area,” St. Pierre said. “Now we need to find those local connections for students. That doesn’t necessarily mean pilots, it’s also maintenance and design.
Jasey and the others are also determining what industry certifications could be completed during the course.

Students who complete an MHS program are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship from St. Clair College or a $500 scholarship from the University of Windsor for their post-secondary education.

“I will absolutely sign up,” Oliver said. “I never thought I would be able to take an aviation-related course in high school.”

St. Pierre is eager to see student interest in the new course.

“It’s the first of its kind in our area so I’m excited to see how it’s going and maybe we can offer it to more students outside of Sandwich,” he said.

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