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Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars Inspire Future Aviators at Pryor Public Schools

Posted Date: 05/09/2024

Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars Inspire Future Aviators at Pryor Public Schools

This year, Pryor Public Schools partnered with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars to launch an afterschool aviation program for middle school students. The initiative, supported by the Pryor Innovation Center, aims to inspire young people to explore aviation careers and gain hands-on experience in the field. Coleman with Matheson

The Program

David Day, Innovation Center Director, worked with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars to arrange an afterschool aviation club at Pryor Middle School. The program provided engaging activities, including Zoom conferences with aviation role models, where students interacted with pilots and learned about various aviation career paths. Pryor Middle School Librarian Jonna Grossman led the student meetings and facilitated the activities. 

Students also took field trips to local airports to see airplanes and an Air Evac helicopter. To further enhance their experience, the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars provided drone kits for the middle school students to build and fly successfully. Additionally, these younger Tiger students spent time with high school aviation students who are currently building a small airplane as part of their PHS Aviation class. Former Pryor Junior High teachers Doug Robertson and Charles Welch, who mentor the high school students, led the tour.  Dr. Jenny Peters guides the high school aviation program. 

Celebrating Success

To celebrate the final meeting of the afterschool aviation group, Gigi Coleman, CEO of the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars, visited Pryor Middle School. She presented an interactive talk impersonating her late aunt Bessie Coleman, who was the first Black woman to receive a pilot's license despite the barriers that existed during her time. The late Coleman made history on June 15, 1921, by earning her pilot's license in France, as she was not allowed to attend aviation schools in the United States.  

Gigi Coleman, remained in character as she walked students through several decades of aviation history through the footsteps of her family. She engaged students with visuals and activities, such as teaching them a portion of the Charleston dance. Each student received a Bessie Coleman T-shirt at the end of the presentation.

Assistant Superintendent John Potter and Pryor Middle School Principal Shawn Matheson also attended the final celebration to thank Gigi Coleman for supporting Oklahoma public education and her efforts to promote aviation as a career.

Continuing the Legacy

The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars organization remains dedicated to preserving Bessie Coleman's legacy by inspiring future aviators, particularly those in underrepresented communities. By providing students with mentorship, support, and resources, the organization ensures her pioneering spirit continues to soar.