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Get to Know the AMA Education Team!

If you're reading this blog post, there's a chance you're somewhat familiar with the AMA Education Team; or at least, you're familiar with our writing and content.

But you may not even know who we are or what we particularly do. So, we'd like to take this opportunity to properly introduce ourselves to you!

Kyle Jaracz,
Education Director

Out of all the members on the team, Kyle J. has been at AMA the longest. He's been working here since May of 2016. He originally started out as the Art Director before transitioning to the Education Director in July 2019. He's held jobs from graphic designer, to lead designer, art director, and creative director. Some of his proudest moments were early on in his career while serving as an Infantry Team leader while in the US Army.

Kyle has been flying since the mid 1980's, but he wasn't an AMA member until 1991. He became a member under the instruction of his mentor, Lloyd "Pete" Peterson.

His main responsibilities as Education Director are leadership and communication. His job is to ensure that the needs of the organization and broader aviation community are in tune with the Education Team's resources and capabilities. Kyle's favorite part of his job is assisting members and providing them the tools to be more effective and efficient at what they are doing within their communities.

Kyle feels that the AMA Education Department is an important part of the overall AMA team because model aviation teaches us so many lessons that apply to many aspects of life. Model aviators are able to learn lessons about perseverance, problem-solving, communication, empowerment, and mentorship through the hobby. Most modelers who take on challenges inherent within model aviation better themselves and develop an appreciation for all things aviation. Kyle sees it as an honor to play a small part in presenting that opportunity to communities around the world.

Outside of work, Kyle flies ultralights (PPG), does a bit of woodworking, and tries to keep up with his wife and two boys!

Kyle Thede,
Education Specialist

Kyle T. has been a part of the AMA team for 2 years and 5 months. Before joining the team, he worked as a Space and Robotics Camp Crew Trainer at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Kyle has been around model airplanes since childhood and became an AMA member when he began working at AMA.

As the Education Specialist, Kyle is tasked with curriculum writing, scholarship and camp program development, and youth outreach. He enjoys working with members in person and getting to be a part of their experiences with model aviation.

Kyle enjoys model aviation and sees it as one of the most fun and exciting ways to engage with STE(A)M (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) concepts. He feels that the Education Team is able to help model aviation remain popular among younger generations, so that they continue to engage with these STE(A)M concepts.

When he's not working, he enjoys reading, drawing, playing and listening to music, taking care of his dog, going for bike rides, and learning to cook new things!

Gwen Mathis
Education Development Coordinator

Gwen Mathis, Education Development Coordinator

Gwen joined the Education Team in mid-October 2022. Before working at AMA, she was an elementary school teacher in three different classrooms: first grade, combination third and fourth grade, and sixth grade. She taught in her Indiana hometown and on the Navajo Nation in Toadlena, New Mexico.

She's new to model aviation, but learning about the existing aviation curriculum and developing new activities and resources helps her discover more about the hobby every day. She became an AMA member when she joined the team.

As the Education Development Coordinator, Gwen's main responsibilities are to organize, develop, and maintain educational programming. She is responsible for developing and updating model aviation training curriculum, activities, testing, and programs that meet national and state standards utilizing learning-management systems. She also organizes UAS4STEM teams, trainings, and schedules.

Gwen enjoys being a part of the Education Team because she is able to offer quality educational resources to members of all ages in a nontraditional learning environment. And as a former sixth grade math and science teacher, she is ecstatic to see so many passionate modelers engaging in STE(A)M learning and activities.

During the evenings and on weekends, you can find Gwen at home with her cats, Bandit and Ash, and her guinea pig, Sock. She enjoys reading, attempting to draw and crochet, browsing thrift stores, and watching movies. She also considers herself to be a Wordle expert thanks to her knowledge of first grade phonetics.