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Flying High in Robinson's Aerospace Program

May 14, 2019 - Student Success

For the past 14 years, Jeffrey Kaloostian has been teaching at Robinson High School.

About five years ago, he started teaching new subjects in a new way—subjects inspired by the skies above.

In an innovative partnership, Kaloostian teaches Dual Enrollment courses that earn students both high school credit and college credit from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

His students at Robinson learn how airplanes fly, and the fascinating details of small "drones" or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), model rockets and even research in outer space. But it's the hands-on experience that many find the most fascinating.

“We have students fly drones, build airplanes and learn how to fly a plane with our flight simulator,” said Kaloostian.

He has helped instill a passion for aerospace in many of the students he teaches.

“It’s rewarding to watch kids get inspired to do something in aerospace,” said Kaloostian. “We have had a number of kids go to the National Aviation Academy in Clearwater and get their airframe and powerplant license. We usually have two juniors a year take pilot lessons to become pilots.”

Mr. Kaloostian—or “Mr. K,” as the students call him—is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot.

“I flew the KC-135 aerial tanker and B-1B bomber for 28 years, and now fly general aviation Cessnas and anything else when somebody will let me,” said Kaloostian.

Since Kaloostian started teaching the Dual Enrollment courses through Embry-Riddle's Gaetz Aerospace Institute, he has had 12 graduates go on to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It’s the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace. 

The Aerospace program at Robinson sets students up for success.

Some went on to work as pilots for commercial airlines like Frontier. Others are staying on the ground, fixing and building aircraft.

“One student is now working for Lockheed Martin, working on C-130s and fighter jets,” said Kaloostian.

Robinson Senior Johnathan Joyner, who has been in the program all four years, credits his love of flying to Mr. K.

“Developing such a good relationship with him has really helped me throughout high school, just having a mentor and having Mr. K support me,” said Joyner.

Joyner’s future is looking bright. He plans to attend the University of South Florida’s ROTC program, then join the U.S. Navy with the end goal of becoming a pilot.

“This program really helps people learn about all the aspects of flying, because some people think that flying is scary but it’s actually very safe,” said Joyner. “We learned why wings are shaped the way they are, how to build a kite and even building an actual airplane. It’s so fascinating.”

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