Eaton prepares for start of district’s aeronautics academy
When schools open their doors on Aug. 22, it won’t just mark the start of the 2016–17 academic year, it will also mark the start of Northwest ISD’s Academy of Aeronautics & Aviation Sciences at Eaton High School. Perhaps no one is more ready for that day than Tim Gamache, head of the new academy.
Academies provide Northwest ISD high school students with multiple four-year comprehensive plans focusing on several areas to prepare them for careers or specific college majors. Aeronautics & Aviation Sciences will serve as the eighth type of academy and provide students with training on a wide range of career opportunities. Mr. Gamache is uniquely qualified to teach such courses, coming to the district after a lifetime in aviation.
During his 25-year U.S. Navy career, Mr. Gamache was involved in almost every aspect of airplane flight, maintenance and support. In addition to flying F-14 and F-18 fighter jets, he served as a mechanic, provided radar support and was a Navy liaison to the Federal Aviation Administration. His Navy tenure also included supervising numerous sizes of groups, from overseeing 240 sailors maintaining airplanes to serving as an operations officer managing multiple squadrons with thousands of people.
Though he’s classified as a first-year teacher, he’s not new to instructing others — after completing the Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instruction “Topgun” program, the inspiration for the Tom Cruise movie, Mr. Gamache became an instructor for fellow pilots.
“Of course it’s not playing shirtless volleyball and riding motorcycles like the movie,” he said. “It’s an advanced training course that designates you as a professional training officer. You’re expected to be the guy who teaches everyone else about the airplane you’re flying. So I did things like lead debriefing meetings, where I showed pilots proper techniques or what they may have done right or wrong.”
“[This academy] gives our students another pathway to help them learn about their potential careers and see what they’re truly interested in before college or professional life.” — Dr. Carri Eddy, Eaton principal
Dr. Carri Eddy, principal of Eaton High School, said Mr. Gamache’s experiences made him an easy choice to lead her school’s new academy.
“It was overwhelmingly clear that Mr. Gamache was the perfect fit for the position based on his passion for aviation and his desire to teach a future generation of aviators and aeronautic professionals,” she said. “This academy is just another great way to meet the needs of our students and community, as Northwest ISD is located in the perfect spot for students to pursue a career in aeronautics and aviation. It gives our students another pathway to help them learn about their potential careers and see what they’re truly interested in before college or professional life.”
With 63 students already enrolled in his academy, Mr. Gamache said he hopes to teach students lessons they can use to determine their best career paths and build strong partnerships with the many local aviation companies in the North Texas areas to provide the best education possible. He’s already reached out to several top-tier companies and is also leveraging his experience in the industry to lure distinguished speakers.
Another aspect of starting the aeronautics and aviation sciences program has revolved around starting a curriculum when few exist for the secondary level. Program partner Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University provided Mr. Gamache with an overview of a general curriculum, which he has since fleshed out for high school students.
Students and parents Mr. Gamache has spoken to about the program seem eager to get started, he said.
“The response has been absolutely outstanding,” Mr. Gamache said. “All the parents I’ve talked to are very excited their children will be able to learn about subjects they’re interested in. A couple of parents were so excited they said they’d like to come back to high school to have these opportunities. That’s what’s so great about this system — we have multiple pathways for students, so it’s not just about being a pilot — a student can learn about being a mechanic, a dispatcher or almost anything related to aviation.”
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For more information about the Academies of Northwest ISD program, click here.