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New Jersey AEM James Falletti says CAP programs help students make real-world connections

Posted on 09/09/2020 at 10:46 AM by Virginia Smith

James Falletti, a New Jersey AEM, has been a teacher for more than 11 years.

Sept. 9, 2020

Meet James Falletti, who teaches 5th- and 6th-grade science at a parochial school in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. When he uses Civil Air Patrol AE materials such as the Astronomy STEM Kit in his classroom, he sees "magic happen" as the students gain confidence and excitement when they understand a new concept. He has been an Aerospace Education Member for three years and says CAP's AE programs and materials help his students "make real-world connections" beyond textbook and workbook activities and "drive them toward hands-on 21st Century Learning Skills and experience." Falletti has been an educator for more than 11 years and especially enjoys teaching aerospace- and environment-related STEAM subjects. We asked him some questions about teaching and being an AEM, and his answers follow. 

Tell us about your current school/organization.

Corpus Christi School is a private/parochial School in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. I teach 5th- and 6th-grade science and am the STEAM Educator/Tech Integration Specialist. Corpus Christi School values lessons of living faith through a commitment to prayer, community and service to others.  Our academic rigor is based on a holistic philosophy of education whereby each child’s gifts are recognized and developed.  Corpus Christi engages students in 21st Century Skills to enable success in an ever-changing world.
How many years have you been an educator? 

I have been teaching at the elementary and middle school level for over 11 years, but I have gone through a journey where I taught middle school science (6th-8th), STEAM education to kindergarten-8th grade, and, most recently, 5th- and 6th-grade science and STEAM while providing tech integration for the school.

Please list awards/honors/achievements you have received as an educator that you would like to include.

  • Teacher Liaison Flight 17-20 for the Space Foundation
  • Accepted into the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA) in Huntsville, Alabama (June 2017)
  • Ambassador for the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA) at the United States Space & Rocket Center
  • Honeywell Institute for Ecosystems Education (August 2018)
  • Achieved Green Flag (National Wildlife Federation designation) status for Corpus Christi School as one of 20 schools in New Jersey and 117th nationwide since 2011
  • Awarded certified Schoolyard Habitat for Corpus Christi School from the National Wildlife Federation (June 2019)
  • National Geographic Certified Educator
  • Google Level 1 Certified Educator

How long have you been a CAP Aerospace Education Member?
I have been an AEM for three years.

How did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol AEM program?

I first heard about the Civil Air Patrol (CAP AEM Program) while attending the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and again at Space Exploration Educators Conference at Space Center Houston, Texas. After I had spoken with CAP Aerospace Education staff and numerous other CAP AEM members, I was instantly hooked.

Please describe the Civil Air Patrol programs you participate in and why you participate. What benefits do your students get from the CAP programs you use?

I participate in the CAP STEM Kit Program. I have received the Astronomy STEM Kit telescopes, and we just recently received a Weather Station STEM Kit. I see the “spark” when I’m teaching my students using the CAP Programs or STEM Kits, and they have that "aha!" moment where they get it. My students find that confidence to share that moment with their classmates as they run into uncharted territory. That is the golden moment when the teacher can watch magic happen. And that is partially due to the generosity and support of the CAP AEM Program
Please tell us how you used the Astronomy STEM Kit and how your students liked it.

During the in-school shutdown of our school due to COVID-19, our plans to create and implement a Junior Astronomy Club for our students and school community were thwarted until further notice. But there’s always a silver lining. I was able to bring astronomy to my students and school community through social media and Google Classroom, where I would hold live chats, post pre-recorded events that explained the phenomena that was being explored, and reinforced junior astronomy opportunities for my students while they were stuck at home. As we start the new 2020-2021 school year, both my students and I intend to go on a new adventure together, and explore the infinite possibilities that space, aerospace and environmental sciences have to offer. The school is reopening this month with the option to parents for their children to be taught virtually.
Please describe how the end-of-year stay at home restrictions last year changed how you do your job. How did you make the best of the situation for your students? 

Americans have watched and listened anxiously to the reports as COVID-19 has swept across our nation and the world, like a passage ripped from the pages of Exodus. For many, this has been a true test of our endurance, our patience, our humanity and our faith; but for the Corpus Christi School community, we have found a silver lining and unity in each other through an engagement in theological reflections, activities and conversation. Our students, faculty, staff and community have faithfully responded to this global challenge with our school’s motto ingrained into our collective psyche: RISE ABOVE. In order to maintain continuity and structure, both students and educators are engaged in weekly project-based activities, which get shared as a digital album or video. This helps ensure a continued connection through the forced separation of distance learning and acts as a constant reminder that we are not alone during this ordeal

What do you and your students like about Civil Air Patrol programs/materials?

They love the program not because it is simply something new, but something to which they can make real-world connections that move them away from textbook and workbook activities; and drive them toward hands-on 21st Century Learning Skills and experiences.
What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials?

Be inspired by and take full advantage of everything that CAP has to offer you and embrace phenomena with your students. To embrace phenomena is to learn and teach past the curriculum and research and to be inquisitive and to be inspired by your surroundings so that you (students and teachers) can make those necessary connections to everyday occurrences that may get overlooked or taken for granted, and apply it to our lessons and growth mindset. Use this approach instead of recycling the same lessons each and every year. How can you inspire your own students when you aren’t inspiring yourself? Go to as many professional developments as you can, and build your network of educators, apply for every opportunity that comes your way through CAP.
Please tell us anything else you’d like to add for this feature on an AEM

As a global learner and educator, I teach my students and colleagues to look beyond the textbook and the confines of the four walls to understand and make relationships to global connections. By applying STEAM Education to the curriculum, this ensures that not only do they make the necessary connections globally, but intergalactically as well with the introduction of Space Sciences and STEAM techniques.  With this notion in place, the educational cap is limitless -- opening newer, better, and bigger possibilities.

Students are working on projects Students working on science in the classroom
Teacher James Falletti helps students make real-world connections in science.  



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