Laura Pink, Antioch ES, Named Florida Wing, CAP Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year and US CAP Southeast Region Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year

Laura Pink, Antioch Elementary School, was recently named the Florida Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year and since has been selected as the U.S. (CAP) Southeast Region Aerospace Education (TOY).  Pink teaches Third Grade Gifted Inclusion at Antioch Elementary School and serves as the Elementary Science Chair, the ACE Program Coordinator, the CHOICE Aviation liaison, and the PITSCO Lab Lead Teacher.

“Congratulations on achieving this distinct and significant accomplishment, as you were selected from more than 600 Aerospace Education Members within the Florida Wing... which is no small feat,” said Kelly G. Noler, Lt Col, CAP, Deputy Commander, Group 1-FL Wing.

Pink was invited to the Florida Wing Conference and Banquet on March 15, 2014, in Orlando, Florida, where she was recognized for her achievement.  

The Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award is a national level award established to recognize and reward any Civil Air Patrol member who is a certified teacher for outstanding accomplishments in Aerospace Education and for possessing those honorable attributes we expect from American teachers.  The winner receives a $1000 cash stipend, free room and attendance to the Civil Air Patrol’s Summer National Board meeting where the award is presented, and a commemorative plaque.

Pink has also selected to be one of five educators that will go on to compete at the National level.  The National Award will be presented at the National Conference in Las Vegas this summer.  

"Over a year ago, Lt. Col. Kelly Noler helped me orchestrate my dream of CAP teachers flying in conjunction with Young Eagle flights,” stated Pink.  “The Top Flights and Young Eagles had never been conducted as a merged effort before and Lt. Col. Noler just loved the idea.  He began asking my peers, parents of my students, my students and I about other programs that I am involved with regarding aerospace education.  He mentioned to me last spring that he was going to nominate me for the award.  I never gave it another thought.  A man of his word, Lt. Col. Noler contacted me when school started this year and followed up on everything he needed to complete the CAP TOY nomination package.  When I was contacted at the end of February about the Florida WING Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education TOY for 2013, I was so surprised and honored.  To represent our school and district in such a way is quite a privilege.  I was informed that my nomination package was being submitted for U.S. Southeast Regional CAP AE TOY.  I immediately thought that was a kind gesture and I thought, ‘I am representing the state of Florida now, not just Antioch or the district.’”

Incorporating science and aviation into her classroom on a daily basis, Pink loves teaching.

“I have been blessed to be teaching in an area that is rich with math and science through education and with the military so prevalent,” stated Pink.  “I was fortunate that Glenda Robinson (retired principal) chose me to teach in Okaloosa ten years ago and geared my teaching toward science.  I fell in love with it and I have never looked back. I left my hometown, my family, and my friends in Arkansas and moved to Crestview to start a new job in my career as an educator.  This is my tenth year to teach in Okaloosa County and the majority of those years have been at Antioch which continues to be an A+ school.  The teachers, staff and administrators here work rigorously to help the Antioch Aviators reach their greatest potential.  I am a part of a great team. This keeps me inspired to pursue programs to enrich our school and science at Antioch.” 

In 2011, Antioch Elementary School was named the National CAP Elementary School of the Year.  Every teacher and administrator at Antioch Elementary School has been members of Civil Air Patrol for three years. 

“We have had many teachers experience TOP Flights through CAP (TOP Flights are for teachers that are CAP members),” said Pink.  “The TOP Flights that I help organize include teachers at other school within the district as well.  Also, the teachers at Antioch all teach at least 12 CAP ACE lessons to their students (ACE= Aerospace Curriculum in Education).  The students love these lessons and the teachers find them fun and interesting as well.  Civil Air Patrol provides the curriculum to all teachers that are members of CAP.  They provide one lesson activity, manipulatives (planes or such), certificates for the students that complete the program, certificates for the teachers, and CAP t-shirts for the teachers and students.” 

Pink has also been incorporating the CHOICE Aviation curriculum enrichment to her students for the past six years. 

“Embry-Riddle Worldwide has been instrumental for support and Ken Fielder has helped me arrange the Young Eagle Flights for the students using retired volunteer pilots,” stated Pink.  “Tucker Hamilton, AF Maj., through Eglin Air Force Base’s Outreach Program, has been ready to help locate individuals from Engineers for America whenever I asked for an engineer to help in my class.  The Hurlburt Chapter 178 has made sure that aerospace workshops are conducted each year for educators and they are eager to help any educator that needs their expertise.  I also have to thank my best friend Connie Joyce (who moved here from Arkansas with her late husband before I did) for encouraging me to come and teach in Okaloosa County.  She has been a relentless cheerleader for 20 years and has helped me tremendously in whatever endeavor I take.  Finally, I thank Lt. Col. Kelly Noler of CAP for his encouragement in all my aerospace adventures for the past year in a half.”

Pink has a quote nested with 3-D airplanes in her classroom by Wilbur Wright.  “It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” 

“This is why every day my students and I experiment to learn in all academic subjects as well as science,” said Pink.  “To experiment helps you to reason, gain knowledge and skill to carry with you throughout life.  That is why I teach, why all teachers teach!  We long to see our students soar with knowledge and skill.  As we say at Antioch, ‘Navigating Beyond Their Horizons!’”