Tullahoma High School is planning to add a dual enrollment aerospace math class to the curriculum, according to THS CTE (Career Technical Education) Director Travis Moore.
Moore presented the information to the school board during its study session on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
During a student survey taken at the beginning of the year, said Moore, several students expressed an interest in exploring a course of study related to aerospace engineering, which he said made sense, given how prolific Arnold Air Force base is in the community.
Additionally, he said, a visit from MTSU dual enrollment coordinators pushed him and other administrators to explore the possibility of adding such a class.
During that meeting, he said, representatives from THS made clear that they didn’t want more of what they already had with Motlow.
“We said, ‘We don’t want another Math 1010 or English 1010,’” said Moore.
Instead, they asked MTSU what they alone could bring to the table.
In reply, MTSU proposed its aviation and aerospace program.
When asked if the existence of the Arnold Air Force Base helped play into the decision of the class addition, Moore said that MTSU specifically mentioned that as a positive for THS.
“They mentioned that,” Moore said.
Each spring, administrators and guidance officials at THS prepare the upcoming year’s list of available classes in the THS course catalog.
As of earlier this month, Moore said that they went ahead and added the aerospace class into the catalog for the 2017-2018 year in order to see how many students would sign up for the class.
“We should start getting those numbers and seeing those numbers of what we are, and we’ll know by spring break for sure if we have enough,” said Moore.
At this point, Moore said that whether or not THS offers the course will depend entirely on student interest.
The amount of interest, he said, will determine all other decisions.
“First we need to see how many students are going to be interested in taking it. I think MTSU said they need at least 10 to make a class,” he said.
For now, the course is listed as “AERO 1010 – Introduction to Aerospace.”
It will be a three-credit hour class.
Moore that they plan to have the class occur during the spring semester, due to the amount of time needed to find an instructor and a preferred prerequisite course on MTSU’s end.
“I know that they (MTSU) wanted students to have algebra II before they got in there (the class), so we may need to get those kids that are interested into algebra II and then they’ll be able to take (aerospace) in the spring,” said Moore.
At its current planning stage, Moore said what the high school would like to do is have the class be a fourth-block class, so that students taking it would have the rest of their afternoon to take it.
Since it is a 3-credit-hour class, said Moore, the class will need to meet for three hours every week, whether it be divided up into three, one-hour sessions or one, three-hour session.
“MTSU doesn’t care if it’s a one-day-a-week thing,” he said.
Moore, however, said that THS would prefer it be one, three-hour session.
“What we would like to do is have it where the kids have it fourth block, and that way they get out of school at 1:43 p.m., so we can start around 2 or 2:30 p.m.,” he said.
“Those kids could start around 2:15 p.m. or so,” and then finish the class by 5:15 p.m. one day a week.”
Once they have enough interested students to form the class, Moore said the next step would be finding an instructor.
There is a possibility that MTSU will not be able to send an instructor down from Murfreesboro every week.
If that happens, THS will be on the hook for finding an instructor.
“If they don’t send us somebody, we need to find somebody in the community that would be willing to teach this class.”
The idea of MTSU sending its own instructor wasn’t entirely off the table, however.
“They didn’t totally say that they wouldn’t send somebody,” said Moore, “but they were leaning more on the edge of (no), because they’re mostly adjunct teachers that they have to get to teach these things, and depending on where that adjunct teacher lives,” it might not be economically feasible to ask them to drive from Murfreesboro to Tullahoma for the three-hours-a-week class.
“It’s not that they won’t, it’s just that they may not be able to,” he said.
Additionally, Moore said, MTSU was also dealing with a teacher shortage in certain areas already.
“I know they struggle to cover even what they have at the university already, so there’s a little bit of struggle that they can let (someone) go to get down (here) as well. It’s all logistics and it’s all depending on how many they have in the program at Murfreesboro,” he said.
For the moment, he said, he and other administrators are looking into hiring their own adjunct professor through MTSU.
Moore said they have received some suggestions for potential hires, but they haven’t entirely narrowed the list of applicants and are still in discussions with local people who may have the knowledge they’re looking for.
“The field’s wide open,” he said.
“There’s somebody around that has the qualifications, but is that somebody willing to teach?”
Still, said Moore, the hope is that THS will have enough students sign up that MTSU actively wants to send their own instructor.
“I’m hoping to have enough (students) that MTSU says, ‘Man, you all have 30 kids that are interested in aerospace down there? Well, we’re going to find a way to send somebody down there and teach that class,’” he said.
While the logistics of an instructor are still in the works, a potential location for the class has been kindly offered by the Tullahoma Regional Airport.
Airport officials contacted Moore about offering a learning space for the class.
“They do have a conference room out there that can hold, probably around 15 students or so, so they are willing to work with us if we can potentially get something off the ground,” he said.
Whether or not they will utilize the space has not yet been finalized.
Questions about the class and the potential of the dual enrollment program may be directed to THS at 454-4620.
Erin McCullough may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.