By Rene Thompson, Editor in Chief | Photo by Rene Thompson
The day after spring break, students in the Aviation Department wondered where their instructor Jason Manzanares had gone to, especially when a substitute teacher came in and told them that he would be taking over their class without any real explanation as to why, and have yet to still get answers on whether these students will get their aviation instructor back or not.
More than a dozen of the aviation students stormed President Winograd’s office on April 24 to get their teacher back or at least find out if he is still going to be their teacher, but were turned away.
These students were later given a meeting with the Applied Technologies Assistant Dean, Michael Cranny later that day where students said that they were able to voice their concerns, but also said that their issues were still not addressed and had hope to hear more from administration on this situation.
Most of these student said they felt they are still being left in the dark about their instructor, or the fate of the aviation program.
Such as student Jasmine Vasquez who said, “It’s kind of confusing, because we don’t know what’s going on— I mean one day he was here and the next he wasn’t, so I feel like we were left in the dark, because we don’t even know who our instructor is going to be next semester.”
Students Paul Romero and Laura Brandon said that Manzanares developed the Aviation program at CNM six years ago and has created the majority of the curriculum, had planes donated to the program for students to get hands on knowledge, and showed students real world experience outside of the program with field trips.
Romero said “he even spends off time with us, and we’re invited to go help him work on planes, or he goes out of his way to get us field trips to places that these other teachers probably won’t do. We’ve had him for so long that we got used to him and all of a sudden just to take him away, and not giving us a reason as to why really sucks. We want him back —he’s a good instructor and we get along with him well, so we are trying to get him back in any way we can.”
Students said they turned in a petition to the Dean of Students office during the second week of April, but have yet to hear back from anyone willing to let them know anything.
Media and Communications Director Brad Moore was not willing divulge the nature of the suspension, but said that “Jason Manzanares is on paid administrative leave. CNM will not comment further on ongoing personnel matters.”
Aviation student Travis Cline said that school officials came to the class and were willing to tell the students that Manzanares was put on paid leave and that it was a human resources issue as to why.
“It comes down to violation of school policy. He can’t even talk to us or let us know what’s going on, and we’re the ones who are suffering,” Cline said.
Not only were students fighting to get their instructor back, but also addressed concerns of the quality of the aviation program in the April 24 meeting.
Student Justin Lester said that he feels the quality of the aviation class has been lacking since his instructor has been suspended.
“I feel like now I am struggling more because he isn’t here anymore,” he said.
Lester said that Manzanares had his own way of teaching, and that he got his way of doing things, because Manazanares was able to go into detail about difficult concepts and that he would explain things to be true to real life situations.
“He would take the time to sit down with us and make sure that we are doing it right, and when we did something wrong he would tell us how to correct it. I feel like we’re hanging in with the program, we’re getting the grades, and doing what we have to do, so I feel like we have a right know what’s going on with our teacher,” Lester said.
Student Mary Bowers said the classes taken for an aviation certification can be brutal at times, so to her it was good to have an instructor that made the students want to learn.
“We have really long lectures, like five hour days, so it was really good to have somebody who was colorful and could explain things in ways that were crazy, but just made sense. The substitute is trying and doing a pretty good job, but it could be better,” Bowers said.
Cline said Manzanares is a really good teacher, he’s been around and he understands students, explaining that the quality of the class has gone down since Manzanares was put on leave.
“The temporary instructor is just not up to that skill level —he gives presentations in PowerPoint and that’s it. When our instructor showed a PowerPoint he would elaborate on a real life situation. His presentation and mannerisms (is what makes him a good teacher), and he has the ability to lighten the moment a little bit when students are drifting off, and come back and divert it,” Cline said.
Vasquez said it would be beneficial to the class and program if the school was at least willing to give them a time frame of exactly when this issue should be resolved.
“That is really what is so upsetting, because the students don’t even know if Jason is going to come back or not,” she said.
Manzanares also makes a great family type atmosphere for these students who spend the majority of two-years with one another, she said.
“He was really big on community, and is why we have barbecues, because he wants us all to kind of be like a family since we’re all going to be with each other over the next two years,” Vasquez said.
Romero said that no one has contacted their class in regards to wanting back their instructor or the changes in program quality, so student do not know what instructor they will end up having for the summer semester.
As of the date of this publication the aviation students are still waiting to find out if their instructor will be coming back, and if the quality of curriculum will be up to par with Manzanares’ teaching.
The Chronicle does plan to do a follow up when this situation has come to a resolution.
By Rene Thompson, Editor in Chief | Photo by Rene Thompson