Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – Eyes to the Sky

Welcome back! This month we are headed over to the Innovation Center (IC) to spend some time with Jake Marshall, Aeronautics Coordinator. Jake is starting his second year at the Innovation Center and with St. Vrain Valley Schools. He was previously a middle school teacher in the Thompson Valley School District. While with Thompson, he created and ran an afterschool club that focused on designing and building aircraft. He has always had a passion for flight and was excited to launch the IC Aeronautics program with St. Vrain.

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When Jake and I sat down to talk, the new IC was still under construction. The excitement in the building was palpable. I asked Jake, “What drew you to St. Vrain.” He said he wanted to transition to working with high schoolers and thought St. Vrain would be a good fit. From what I saw, it has been a great fit. What Jake and his students were able to accomplish in just one school year, is nothing short of astounding!

For the 2017-2018 school year, Jake had 25 students participate in the Aeronautics program. These students worked on building – from scratch – different Unmanned Aircraft to spec for several different clients. They also had the opportunity to film commercials for district use. While enrolled in the Aeronautics program, they also have the opportunity to work towards earning their FAA Part 107 pilot license. This allows the students to fly drones commercially. He is in the process of building a partnership with AIMS Community College to allow his students to dual enroll in aeronautics classes as well.

While Jake has always had a passion for flight, he has not always found himself in the classroom. He spent a couple years as an engineer and quickly found that he did not like missing the important events in his family’s life. He transitioned to a social studies teacher at the middle school level and worked on curriculum and development. Then, he started an afterschool program where students were designing scratch built aircraft.

Jake showed me several different types of aircraft that his students were working on. While he explained the process, I started to hear a bit of the engineer come out. But I was never lost in ‘why things were designed the way they were’. Jake has an incredible ability to convey technical specifications in layman’s terms while sparking interest to learn more. It was incredible to see student work and understand the ‘why’.

Our conversation drifted to what was coming next. How would the move into the new 55,000 sq/ft IC improve the Aeronautics program. Well, Jake and his students will have a 300 foot runway and five acres of flight area to soar in. The smile on his face told me that this new school year couldn’t start soon enough. He gets excited when he thinks about expanding student opportunities – perhaps finding their career path in the sky. The connection with his students and watching them grow is the biggest reward for Jake.

As Jake and his students get ready to take off this year, we can only image where this program will go. We can’t wait to see what his students will design and come up with next. If you want a peek at what is going on in the IC Aeronautics program check out the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39k1daN5mKA&index=4&list=PLelVGMkpbgfVV4IFfVV8VyazD7xSLJe9M

Jake took two of his students out to the construction site to document the progress and turned it into this video. Take a look!

Jake, congratulations on a great first year. We wish you and your students clear skies for flying high!

 

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