As you know this is National Teacher Appreciation Week. This time brings back a lot of memories as my mother was a teacher for 38 years. After she retired as the High School principal of my hometown in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, she went on to work as the principal of a small church school right up until the day she passed away.
This morning we visited Monaco Elementary School in Aubrey, TX. We were there to recognize two of their outstanding 5th grade teachers, Mrs. Jennifer Hazen and Mrs. Joanie Rouk, for their awesome contributions to the Southwest Airlines “Adopt-A-Pilot” program. I have had the honor to work with these ladies for the past three years. They are extremely proactive and full participants of the program and its activities. These are some of the best students I’ve seen, not only in terms of participation and academic knowledge, but with respect to their exemplary behavior and maturity for their ages. This is no accident, as most certainly Mrs. Hazen and Mrs. Rouk have been direct contributors to these achievements and discipline.
First Officer Jose Pacheco (Center) with Mrs. Jennifer Hazen (Left) and Mrs. Joanie Rouk
And whenever I show up, the facilities are “ready to go”, clean, and organized on time. During one of my recent visits, I noticed that they had not only displayed this year’s post cards (sent from on-the-job), but the ones I’ve mailed them during previous years. Adopt-A-Pilots use these to share our experiences during our trips as we conduct weekly classes with the students.
Even though surprising these two fine ladies was a short notice request, within a couple of hours we received approval from the school principal, Mrs. Lowman, and the rest was history…
For their contributions, we were delighted to recognize the teachers today with kinds words, and with some presents which included (among other things): SWA lunch boxes containing Southwest-themed office supplies, a round-trip ticket, and some barf bags, to give the kids a little something extra to laugh about.
This day will stay in my mind for years to come. I love recognizing people for their efforts and contributions to other human beings and society in general. Many times (like in the case of Mrs. Hazen and Mrs. Rouk), these are unsung heroes without whose efforts we would not be able to achieve difficult goals in life.
I definitively enjoy sharing with the students. The program is designed to use our jobs, as well as those of the entire Southwest Airlines Family, to teach the importance of staying in school and to apply themselves in learning several valuable academic subjects such as science and math. However, the program goes beyond academics and into life principles. We cover subject such as: Leadership, Integrity, Honesty, and Gratitude. We share with them the importance of applying these qualities in day-to-day life in order to overcome obstacles, achieve goals, and overall become healthy contributing members of society. I specifically enjoy sharing how things like: my mother’s counsel and work experiences (i.e. shoeshine boy, delivering newspapers, washing dishes, professor assistant, as well as high school teaching); all contributed to my present honor of serving as a Pilot, with the best Company in the world: The Southwest Airlines Family!!!