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Maj. Karen Schultz sees helping youth as personal mission

Posted on March 19, 2020 at 10:39 AM by Virginia Smith

Capt. Schultz poses with teachers and their TOP Flight certificates
Maj. Karen Schultz, far right, poses with Long Branch Elementary teachers following their TOP Flights.

March 18, 2020

Meet Maj. Karen A. Schultz, Aerospace Education Officer (AEO) of a senior squadron in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is involved in CAP's aerospace education mission because she has a "personal mission to excite and motivate children to engage in good, worthwhile endeavors and to draw them away from destructive behaviors and things." She is a former mathematics education professor and is a member of EAA. There are no cadets in her squadron, but read how she accomplishes the mission to help youth.

Tell us about yourself: your name, duty positions and unit name.

My name is Maj. Karen A. Schultz. I am the Aerospace Education Officer and Administrative Officer, Dahlonega Senior Squadron SER-GA-447 in Georgia Wing. 

How many years have you been in Civil Air Patrol? 

2 years (joined December 2017) 

How did you get involved in Civil Air Patrol? 

My husband, 1st Lt. Robert Cauffield, was invited to join CAP by a member of his flying club who was also a CAP member.  We both took an interest and thought we might qualify. 

  Why do you work in the Aerospace Education mission area? 

Two reasons:   

First, I have a personal mission to excite and motivate children to engage in good, worthwhile endeavors and to draw them away from destructive behaviors and things.  [Side bar:  We lost a son to a tragic accident.] 

Second, I thought I could learn about aerospace education and work with schools since I taught graduate courses to teachers for 30 years as a mathematics education professor from 1976-2006. Afterwards I taught mathematics education graduate courses for Walden University, a virtual institution, from 2010-2014.   My initial interest in aerospace education comes from my husband, a life-long private pilot and a retired electrical engineer and our joint EAA membership.

What is the best advice you have for working with AEMs? 

  • Get prepared.  Attend the AEO School in Pensacola and a Wing Conference for hands-on learning with the ACE and STEM Kit programs. Include Rocketry when possible.  Apprentice under another AEO. 
  • Show up early and ready.  Bring several grade-appropriate ACE and STEM Kit lessons to conduct teaching demonstrations with the teachers preferably through learning centers.  Have all centers set up and ready when teachers walk in.   
  • Identify school Contact.  Have a reliable contact person at the school to get answers to questions about setting-up, outlets, projection screen, computer system and other logistical matters.  Ask how, when, where you could get at least an hour for your meeting.   
  • Have an assistant.  If there are two AEOs in a squadron, work as a team.  If not, recruit another Senior Member, or another AEO outside your squadron who needs to apprentice or who is willing and able to help.  Be creative.   

What is the best advice you have for a new AE Officer working with cadets? 

If your squadron does not have cadets, find a squadron that does.  Ask to observe teaching, then offer to help using that squadron’s  STEM Kits.   

Do you have any suggestions for how to conduct outreach in schools? 

My suggestion pertains to AEOs in Senior Squadrons.  

  • When you get your first STEM Kit, teach it to your senior members, qualifying them to conduct teaching demonstrations in schools.  The AEO should be part of the teaching team of 2 or 3.  These teaching demonstrations can be at a school where AEMs already exist, or at schools without AEMS.  In either case the teaching demos are for the purpose of informing teachers of what is available for their classrooms if they become AEMs.   

  • Once the STEM Kit lessons are completed and you’ve come to closure with the STEM Kit, submit your report and order your next STEM Kit and repeat.   

  • An AEO in a Senior Squadron could obtain 2-3 STEM Kits a year, eventually acquiring a sufficient number of kits to display at career expos, cadet weekends, school open-houses, public library education support for home-school parents and children.  Thus, librarians and home-school parents will be invited to become AEMs. 

  • Once the AEO has acquired at least 3 STEM Kits, the AEO can start doing the teaching demonstrations and learning centers with a qualified senior member in his or her squadron to be the assistant. 

  • It would be helpful to contact AEOs in Senior Squadrons to support each other in getting started to acquire STEM Kits.   

Please tell an anecdote of a rewarding experience working with cadets and/or students: 

The most rewarding experience I’ve had was organizing TOP Flights for three teachers. A newspaper published an article about the event. The reporter interviewed the teachers and I provided photos.  My husband was the pilot.  He flies Orientation Rides for cadets, but this was his first TOP Flight experience.  He was exuberant with each teacher’s enthusiasm, gratitude and amazement.  Each teacher respectively joined their classrooms on Facebook on large screens back at school.




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