Mark Stewart ’83 has participated in Southwest Airlines’ award-winning Adopt-a-Pilot educational mentorship program for three years. This year he was adopted by Carrie Liebel’s fifth-grade class at Laurene Edmondson Elementary School in Loveland, Colo., where he lives.
When he met the students in February, Stewart listened to their dreams for the future and encouraged them to work hard in school and stay focused. He told them how he realized his own dream of becoming a commercial pilot, despite financial constraints in college and setbacks along the way.
For the next month, Stewart’s visits, e-mails and postcards served as catalysts to lead the students through various subjects. Using math and science he described how the curved shape of his jet’s wings and the engine’s thrust combine to lift the 36-ton aircraft, and the students learned geography as they mapped his flights and studied the cities he visits.
Established in 1997 in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Adopt-a-Pilot now reaches more than 800 classrooms nationwide.
“It’s just an outstanding program,” said Stewart, who was a political science major at UW-Eau Claire. “What really makes it great is the involvement you get from dedicated teachers like Ms. Liebel.”