California Educator

August/September 2023

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I N A C L A S S R O O M inside a 1940s-era hangar at Salinas Municipal Airport, educator John Horvath is teaching his stu- dents the basics of math, English, science … and aviation. Horvath teaches at the Bob Hoover Academy at Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), an alternative high school and community school focused on supporting students who have had difficulty in traditional school environments and pro- viding them with the unique opportunity to take to the skies and learn how to fly. "I teach the students the Airline Owners and Pilots Associ- ation (AOPA) high school curriculum. It's like Ground School lite," says Horvath, a member of Monterey County Office of Education Teachers Association (MCOETA). "We learn about the basics of flight — lift, drag, forces of flight — all the things you need to obtain a pilot's license." In a modified independent study environment, Horvath takes his 20 students through Common Core math, English language arts and science lessons every morning with flight school starting after lunch. e students split into two groups: one with Horvath and the other with an instructor/mechanic to work on actual airplanes in the hangar, where they are currently rebuilding a Cessna. e unique alternative/com- munity/flight school is the only one of its kind in California and quite possibly the nation. "Almost every day, we have students flying in air and in our simulator on site," Horvath says, noting that one of his students completed a solo flight in December. "If I had this opportunity when I was young, I would've been all over it." While Horvath does not yet have his pilot's license (students fly with a qualified instructor), he has extensive experience teaching in alternative school environments, working to make connections with students who need additional support and guidance at continuation schools, court schools and in Juvenile Hall. He says he always wanted to work with the innovative program at Hoover, and finally got the opportunity three years ago when MCOE wanted to increase rigor in what was previ- ously called the Sea Air Fire Earth (SAFE) Flight program and asked him to join the team. is is his first year teaching in per- son after teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. "COVID wiped us out, so we were struggling for enrollment, but now we have a waitlist," he says. Learning how to fly is a compelling incentive for his Alternative school educator teaches students basics of flight By Julian Peeples Sky's the Limit! John Horvath with students in the hangar, next to a Cessna 152. Horvath teaches Common Core subjects in the morning, left; guests have included members of a Chilean Air Force Acrobatic Team, right. 53 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 C

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