From Cache County to the Navajo Nation, Secondary Teachers Train in Price


Press Release

Time for a little Q&A. What USU concurrent enrollment program doubled in enrollment from 2022 to 2023? Aviation. What program within aviation quadrupled enrollment in that time? Unmanned aircraft systems. Where did educators go to get training and information to teach those programs. USU Eastern, Price.

“The most important thing we want you to walk away with is that we are here to support,” said Aggie Drone Academy director, Shawn “BW” Barstow during the week of June 10 through June 15 for this year’s educator workshop.

Secondary teachers come to Utah State University Eastern to train with Aggie Drone Academy on all things related to concurrent enrollment in aviation. Through USU Extension’s Aggie Drone Academy, Barstow and AVTE concurrent enrollment coordinator, Shalyn Drake, have developed multiple continuing education courses to properly train teachers before they start teaching a concurrent enrollment course. This year, not only did Aggie Drone Academy host a week-long workshop, but along with USU Eastern, they hosted USBE’s statewide aviation conference on Thursday, June 13, 2024, with over two dozen educators from across the state and into Arizona as well as multiple industry leaders.

“This conference and what the Aggie Drone Academy did was reflected in the attitudes and takeaways of all of our attendees with great success,” said Utah State Board of Education aviation CTE specialist, Saige Bowman.

June’s educator workshop included new teachers from San Juan district, Provo district, and from American Leadership Academies Applied Technologies in Gilbert, Arizona. These new teachers were introduced to AVTE’s UAS goals that include helping people understand drones are part of aviation, and it’s a whole new world; that part of the goal for AVTE and Aggie Drone Academy is to help create socially responsible pilots; that USU’s fixed-wing drone and manual flight skills emphasis helps prepare students for success.

“I can see where this can lead students in the future and create those opportunities for them,” said Kevin Martin, a teacher from Navajo Mountain High School. Martin was one of the new UAS educators.

In 2021, there was one teacher in Davis County teaching concurrent enrollment drones, one teacher in Cache County teaching concurrent enrollment private pilot, and one teacher in the Salt Lake area teaching both. Today, there are over 50 teachers throughout the state approved to teach concurrent enrollment aviation through USU with over 2,000 students enrolled. During the June conference, Bowman reported that enrollment had increased in every single district throughout the state.

The UAS educator conference itself introduces teachers to AVTE’s goals, but also is hands-on-driven. Every teacher walks away with two drones to help with understanding components and building techniques, but also to help with building up logged flight time.

“I want teachers to feel confident in their ability to teach this,” said Drake.

Teachers begin flying on day one with a similar indoor drone to what students receive in the UAS Certificate program. Barstow and Drake emphasize logging flight and practicing specific maneuvers early on. By the end of day two of the conference, teachers have begun building their own fixed-wing drone. In between building lessons and experiences, Drake and Barstow review foundational aviation content.

One of the other goals of a concurrent enrollment program is to create pathways from secondary to post-secondary. A few of the steps Barstow and Drake are working on within concurrent enrollment include getting teachers to more fully utilize USU’s Canvas page, focus on the fixed-wing and manual flight skills, and become subject matter experts to properly prepare their students for aviation. At USU Eastern alone, concurrent enrollment students directly from Granite Technical Institute, Desert Hills High School, Carbon High School, Advanced Learning Center, and more are enrolled in aviation courses.

Typically, concurrent enrollment teachers are required to have a master’s degree in their content, but the workshops and expectations USU has of teachers help keep them prepared and up to date are more in line with industry standards. Additionally, Drake is working with Bowman to better align strands and standards for multiple courses in the UAS and aviation pathway, making it one of the largest – if not, the largest – pathway connection in the state.

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