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Arizona AEM Lisa Medlyn uses CAP programs in after-school STEM club

Posted on March 15, 2022 at 6:35 PM by Virginia Smith

AEM Lisa Medlyn poses in front of scenic Arizona terrain on a hike.

Lisa Medlyn, an Arizona AEM, has been a CAP AEM for a year and is a participant in the ACE and ACE Plus programs.

March 15, 2022

Meet Lisa Medlyn, an AEM in Arizona Wing. Her son, C/SrA Nathan Medlyn, is a cadet in Civil Air Patrol's 388th Composite Squadron. "My son's interest in CAP has spiked my interest in organizing an after-school program that might interest students in STEM," she says. She has only been an AEM for one year, but has embraced it by forming an after-school CAP Club for grades 5-8 and participating in the ACE and ACE Plus programs. The latter connects squadrons with classrooms, and her students are working with her son's squadron. She started a career in education because she was working as an interpreter for hearing impaired students. She also was inspired to teach because she has a daughter with autism. "These experiences have led me to working in education," she says. "I stay in education because of the kids. While work can be challenging -- especially during a pandemic -- my students are the reason I show up each day." We asked her some questions about her career in education and involvement with CAP, and her answers follow.

Tell us about your current school. What grades do you teach, and what is your role in the school?

I teach at Art Academy at Estrella Mountain, a Title I and charter school located in Tolleson, Arizona. I teach 5th grade, but I offer an after-school CAP Club to grades 5-8. My son Nathan Medlyn is an 8th grade student that attends there and is a cadet in the 388th Composite Squadron. I worked as an interpreter for the deaf for seven years in an educational setting prior to teaching. I have been teaching for eight years since then. I have a Master's in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). I have taught grades K-5 and interpreted for grades K-college level. My son's interest in CAP has spiked my interest in organizing an after-school program that might interest students in STEM. I am new to the program but have enjoyed watching the program grow. I hope to expand it across 5th grade next year.

How many years have you been an educator?  Why did you become an educator? What keeps you in the field? 

I got into education because I was working as an interpreter for the deaf in the classroom. In addition, I have a high needs daughter with autism. These experiences have led me to working in education. I stay in education because of the kids. While work can be challenging -- especially during a pandemic -- my students are the reason I show up each day.

What is your philosophy of teaching?

I understand the value of teaching kids in a variety of learning styles that meet each student's potential. I have created a comfortable learning environment with flexibility that gives each student the opportunity to share their strengths in the classroom and places to build on their weaknesses. 

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

  • Associate of arts degree in Deaf Studies

  • Bachelor of arts degree  in Liberal Studies

  • Master of arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language TESOL

Tell us how long you have been an ACE teacher and why you participate? What benefits do your students get from the ACE program?

This is my first year teaching the ACE program. It has been a huge learning curve on my part. My background is language not STEM. 

I hope to film some of the lessons once I feel comfortable to share on YouTube with the community. While it has been a challenge, it has been rewarding. I use these lessons with my 5th grade class and with my after-school CAP Club. It is helpful that the standards align well with Arizona State Standards. 

Tell us about your involvement with the ACE Plus classroom adoption program and how that came to be. What benefits does that connection with a squadron provide for your students?

The adoption program has been my biggest help along with emails to the education team in CAP. The senior members and cadets are able to teach and explain content that I am learning myself. The kids love seeing the cadets and senior members in uniform and LOVE to show off their purple shirts on Wednesday. The adopt a classroom program has allowed me to network with the squadron and the community. We have someone coming to do a hot air balloon demonstration in April and another person doing a drone demonstration soon. The squadron has connections with several members in the community that are willing to support our cause. The ACE Plus program has had the greatest impact on my students. I now have girls and boys talking about becoming engineers when they grow up.

Please describe any other Civil Air Patrol education programs you participate in and why you participate. 

The STEM kits have been the students' favorite! Unfortunately, our school does not yet have all the technology to support some of these amazing kits. As a result, I am working hard to find grants to get our school a few computers to meet the needs of these STEM Kits. My students all got their drone certificates and we just received three drones that we will be flying with an FAA member.

Please tell us more about your after-school program using CAP programs and materials. How did that get started and who participates? Why do CAP materials make good resources for this program?

I started the program with the intention of teaching students while supporting my son in Civil Air Patrol. The CAP materials align especially well with 5th grade standards. My entire 5th grade team has been trying

Students at the rocket launch with several CAP senior members assisting

Art Academy at Estrella Mountain students are assisted by the 388th Composite Squadron at their rocket launch.

out some of the lessons, and they are eager to expand it across all of 5th grade.

How many years have you been involved in Civil Air Patrol?

I have been an AEM for one year, and I am still learning.

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

My son was in CAP and other local squadron members helping with the ACE Plus program encouraged me to check it out. 

Why do you teach in the Aerospace Education/STEM area?

We are a Title I school. Many of our students are unaware of the career opportunities available to them in the future.

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

The STEM kits are the favorite. They do get excited about the different types of paper CAP planes they can build. When a package arrives to my classroom, they get so excited.

What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials?

Plan ahead!  Watch the CAP education lessons on YouTube to help you understand the lessons better. STEM lessons take work so don't try to do it all at once. Try one or two powerful lessons a month and build from there. Next, look for funding opportunities. Title I schools may not have all the supplies you might need for any one lesson. I am always looking for ways to find funds to purchase items for my classroom. Lastly, reach out to CAP education members. They have been a HUGE help to me in this journey. I could not have done it without them and Squadron 388.

Please tell an anecdote of a rewarding experience you have had working with students or colleagues using CAP programs:

I love seeing students, especially my girls, getting excited about engineering and a possible career in aerospace. I have students getting excited about a field of work that they never thought possible for themselves.

Is there anything we didn't ask that you'd like to say? Please tell us anything else you’d like to add for this feature on an AEM. 

I hope to make this program grow for my students and for myself as an educator.

Students pose facing away so that the backs of their purple ACE T-shirts are seen
Class portrait of Lisa Medlyn's students standing in their classroom A cadet helps a student outside at a rocket launch

Top, Lisa Medlyn's class loves to wear their Ace T-shirts. Left, the class is pictured. Right, it's launch day for the Rocketry STEM Kit with assistance from the 388th Composite Squadron.


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