As part of La Voz’ education edition, it is worth remembering how important it is that students have options in their class choices beyond generic, but important classes like Math and English.
Pamela Laidley is a fifth-grade teacher at Adams Elementary School in Westminster. She has an innovative idea, that can help change the lives of students who are coming out of high school.
Laidley wants Jefferson County School District to start an aviation program. Her vision of the program would see students being able to earn their pilot’s license, or to be able to learn skills as a technician before they get out of high school.
Laidley is pushing for the program, all while she is teaching fifth-graders. During her spare time from teaching, she has been meeting with curriculum leaders to propose her idea. She’s even met with the Jefferson County School District’s superintendent, but nothing is set in stone yet for an aviation program. That doesn’t mean that the Jefferson County School District isn’t listening though.
There might not be a better time for students to try to get their pilot’s license either. Boeing, an aircraft manufacturing company, is predicting that there will be a demand for 790,000 more pilots by 2037. Ninety-six thousand of those pilots would be needed just to support the business aviation sector. Delta alone is looking to hire 8,000 pilots over the next ten years.
Pilot shortages can also affect the private aviation industry as well. This is because there are high standards for pilots who fly private flights, and pilots are expected to have years of experience in that particular industry.
One reason for a shortage in the country is due to a federally mandated retirement age for airline pilots of 65 years old.
Jefferson County in particular is seeing its aviation industry grow. According to Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, Jefferson County has the second-highest concentration of aviation companies in Metro Denver.
The county’s aviation industry is so important because of the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. The airport is one of the busiest ones in the state, and it averages over 125,000 operations each year. The airport has over 2,000 jobs, and its economic impact is important too as it creates $460 million in economic activity each year.
Laidley is personally passionate about flying, and she said her students say she has her “head in the clouds.” Laidley is currently working on creating a meeting with people from the aviation industry and school officials to determine what Jefferson County needs to do, to offer an aviation program somewhere down the line.
She is confident that Jefferson County will eventually have an aviation program, and her idea appears to be relevant due to the high demand for pilots.