On October 14, 2009, ED’s General Counsel, Charlie Rose, visited Aviation High School in Des Moines, WA, for a Listening and Learning meeting. A magnet school in the Highline school district, Aviation trains its students for careers in aerospace and related science and technology fields. The school enjoys substantial support from business and community partners that include the Port of Seattle and the Gates Foundation, and attracts students from across the Seattle metropolitan area, many of whom commute more than two hours to attend.
During his visit, Rose heard from more than 40 students, parents, teachers, administrators and school partners about Aviation’s unique approach to learning. Many spoke about Aviation’s rich ties with the local aerospace community, the value of programs that pair students with professional mentors, and the importance of alternative certification programs. Several stakeholders also spoke about the need for greater facilities funding in public education, particularly as Aviation looks to build a new campus.
Most of all, attendees championed Aviation’s focus on problem solving, and encouraged the Department to invest in innovative models like theirs. Highline School District Superintendent John Welch also noted that although Washington State has no charter laws, innovative schools like Aviation still manage to thrive.
At the conclusion of Rose’s visit, he spoke directly with students in the school’s robotics lab, witnessing live demonstrations of their projects and listening to them describe how Aviation High School is helping them pursue their dreams.