Kyle Vernon, a Crosbyton Middle School science teacher and a captain in the Civil Air Patrol, was honored this weekend for his work using aerospace education as a teaching tool in the classroom. At an awards presentation in Houston, Capt Vernon was awarded the Texas Wing Aerospace Teacher of the Year and the Southwest Region Aerospace Teacher of the Year. These awards recognize those who are both Civil Air Patrol members and school teachers who use aerospace education as a tool to help students learn science, technology, engineering and math skills. Capt Vernon is now a nominee for the national award.
Dennis Verkamp, Principal of Crosbyton Middle School commented on Capt Vernon’s approach to teaching in a letter to the nominating board, “Kyle has taught on our Middle School campus for over 10 years, teaching 6th, ih and 8th grade science. For several years while funding was available Mr. Vernon arranged for the entire 8th Grade Class from Crosbyton Middle School to travel 155 miles to Dyess Air Force Base for a tour of both the aircraft and facilities to allow students to understand the complex operation of keeping aircraft flying. Except for the recent years of drought, Mr. Vernon teaches a rocketry program that allows the students to design, test, and then launch model rockets. This allows the students to grasp the technical nature of rocketry.”
When asked his thoughts on the effectiveness of using aerospace education as a tool, Capt Vernon replied, “The results have been promising, even for a small 1-A school like Crosbyton. Several students have gone on to aerospace or related fields. One former student that designed and built his first rocket in an AEX STEM rich environment has gone on to graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering while several others have been recruited to learn Powerplant and Airframe repair at Redstone College. Another former student is also finishing his degree in Meteorology having had his start calculating wind speed and direction at the launch pad.”
“Capt Vernon could be teaching college level science, but instead chooses to teach teenagers. He has an amazing knowledge of the sciences, and he is an awesome teacher. I do not know of anyone that is more deserving of these awards. Vernon is the deputy commander in charge of the squadron’s cadet program. He instructs the cadets in aerospace education so well that even senior officers enjoy attending his sessions”, says Squadron Commander, Lt Col Richard Kolas.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with nearly 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 26,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 72 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.