Chamberlain School’s aviation program offers unique opportunities for students

By Andrew Cromarty
January 8th, 2023

The Chamberlain International School in Middleboro, Mass., is a co-educational therapeutic boarding and day school for students aged 11-21. It serves students dealing with a wide range of learning and emotional difficulties. The diploma-granting institution serves its diagnostically diverse student population by providing a variety of educational, psychiatric, and vocational services.

Chamberlain’s learning model—developed from years of research and experience—encourages a process of constructivist learning and hands-on instruction. The school’s curriculum sets itself apart with its individualized approach and unique programs—possibly the most unique of which is its aviation program.

“We have kids that come to us that are looking at, not necessarily traditional four-year universities, but actual industry careers, and the aviation program fits right into that. We work with a lot of nontraditional learners for whom hands-on stuff really works,” said Scott Davignon,, M. Ed., CAGS, program director.

The program—founded in 2008—is taught at the Alpha One Flight School in nearby Plymouth and includes classroom lectures, simulation training, and real flight experience. The classroom is fully loaded; set up with video training aids, a navigation planning table, a computer weather station, and an FAA approved “Elite” simulator for training during inclement weather.

The ground school’s plan of study is given in a lecture format. Classes are taught in the evenings for two hours, three days a week. Students make their own flight plans with the help of instructors as they work toward the 22 required hours of flight with an accompanying instructor.

“Therapeutic benefits begin with the self-esteem piece and for students who do not necessarily fare well in a traditional educational environment, they actually get to enjoy some success in the academic arena with these types of programs.” -- Scott Davignon, M. Ed., CAGS, Chamberlain International School aviation program director.

A minimum of 40 flight hours is required in order to receive a pilot’s license. The national average for hours needed to be competent in the necessary maneuvers is 75-90. Chamberlain’s students won’t meet the minimum requirement for hours during their time in the program, but many have gone on to continue their training and earn their pilot’s licenses.

The Private Pilot Part 61 training syllabus allows instructors to tailor the program to complement each student pilot’s developing skills. “Students have different learning curves sometimes, so the program is individualized so they can modify or pace the content and break it down into smaller chunks if that’s what is needed,” said Davignon.

The program reflects the hands-on learning methodology that The Chamberlain School emphasizes. Unique learning experiences, like the ones the aviation program offers, allow students to obtain their education through non-traditional experiences.

“You think about the math and science that goes along with aviation, as well as the humanities piece with geography and ability to intertwine the written and verbal communication aspects. So there’s quite a bit that can go along with it from an academic perspective,” said Davignon.

Davignon added the program is immensely popular and noted that in addition to the students who have continued to work toward their pilot’s license after graduating, a few have actually gone on to pursue careers in aviation.

“The number of careers that you can head into in the aviation field is just countless. We certainly didn’t see where the aviation industry would be today, but now everybody is looking for pilots, mechanics, all kinds of different jobs in the aviation field. So we feel the program has only become more and more relevant,” he said.

The aviation program also fits Chamberlain’s therapeutic approach to learning. While the curriculum can often be challenging and rigorous, it is delivered within a supportive framework designed to build confidence, self-esteem, and social skills.

“Therapeutic benefits begin with the self-esteem piece and for students who do not necessarily fare well in a traditional educational environment, they actually get to enjoy some success in the academic arena with these types of programs,” Davignon said.

One Response to Chamberlain School’s aviation program offers unique opportunities for students

  • January 11th, 2023 at 1:14 am Carolann Keleher posted:

    I have worked at the Chamberlain school for 16 years. We hear from many of our students who graduate and move on to successful careers, start families and give back to their communities. There is nothing better then seeing our students grow and become productive citizens. There stories never get old. The staff grow and learn right along side of them and it creates a learning environment for all involved. We have staff and directors who care about these kids and provide the mental and emotional support that they need as well as support for the staff. The aviation program has always been one of my favorites and the students love it.

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