Aviation students want their teacher back

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.

2 thoughts on “Aviation students want their teacher back”

  1. I also sent this as a letter to the editor.

    May 21, 2014

    I just read your May 20 article and editorial comment regarding the state of affairs in the Aviation Maintenance program.

    I am a May 2014 graduate of the AVMT program, having spent seven semesters completing all phases of instruction.

    Our class (the “afternoon” class), also was told that Mr. Jason Manzanares was being placed on leave. When no explanation was forthcoming it was apparent, at least to those of us who have been in the real world rather than having solely a student experience, that the situation involved some sort of personnel issue and that we would learn nothing further regardless of our interest level. That is as it should be.

    This seems to be something more than a few in the current (“morning”) class are unable to understand. That class also exhibits a complete inability to adapt to life. Whining about not having your favorite instructor sounds like grade school and not college. Wake up folks, this is the kind of thing that occurs in the real world. People get hired, fired, promoted, demoted, transferred, retired, etc., and what you prefer or want as a non-involved onlooker simply does not factor into the equation. It is not incumbent upon anyone to tell you “why” there was a change of personnel. Nor are you owed a “time frame for resolution.” Your concern should be getting an education, not who is providing it.

    It was troubling to read about a mindset that caused a number of students to “storm” the Presidents office. Storm the company owner’s office when something you don’t like occurs and see how long you have that job. That kind of behavior may play well and be tolerated on college campuses; it’s not acceptable in the real world. Be professional, not childish and theatrical.

    What is even more troubling is the apparent ease with which these students denigrate other instructors as “temporary,” “substitute,” and “lacking in quality,” when they have no basis for making such an evaluation.

    It appears that Mr. Manzanares had been their only instructor up to the time he was placed on administrative leave. That was going to change immediately anyway, since all the instructors teach the various courses and they were going to get a different instructor even if Mr. Manzanares was not on leave. That different instructor was going to be a person they have disrespected with the language above. Again, grow up folks.

    Several of us who just finished the program did so with 4.0 GPAs. While it takes significant personal effort to do that, it wasn’t achieved alone. With the cohort method, our class had a high degree of student-to-student cooperation and support, which also counted for a lot. But, in the end, it was the instructor staff, headed by Mr. Manzanares, but very ably assisted and supported by Mr. Jeremy Frick and Mr. Dave Ortiz, who ensured our success. The characterization of Messrs. Frick and Ortiz as temporary, substitute and lacking in quality is inaccurate, unwarranted and highly offensive to me and others who have benefited enormously from their knowledge and experience. The morning class owes them an immediate apology.

    Everyone has a different style of teaching, and one style may be favored over another. But, all three of the AVMT staff are competent, professional instructors with solid and relevant industry experience. Our class enjoyed each of their styles and appreciated their interest in and commitment to our success.

    Mr. Manzanares is a fine teacher and obviously dedicated to student success. But, so are Mr. Frick and Mr. Ortiz. I wish each of them well and expect the morning class to respect the effort each of these folks make on their behalf.

    Also, since Assistant Dean Michael Cranney was mentioned in your article, a comment about him and Dean John Bronisz is appropriate. Both of these men were instrumental in solving a peculiar FAA testing problem that has affected all prior AVMT classes, including ours. It took a significant amount of effort to coordinate among CNM, the FAA and the authorized testing center so that we were not unduly delayed in our ability to take the mandatory FAA testing that is required beyond the CNM program to be successfully employed in the aviation industry.

    Their work means the morning class now in attendance never will experience the lengthy delay that afflicted prior classes, nor the shorter delay which affected ours (because they resolved the situation to our benefit as quickly as possible). The morning class never will know the frustration of waiting for an arbitrary calendar event before taking that FAA exam.

    So, considerable thanks and appreciation also are due Messrs. Cranny and Bronisz.


    Stephen Fleming
    AVMT Graduate 2014
    Licensed FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic

  2. This article does not accurately portray the AMT program and it’s instructors. Several letters are being submitted via this website’s contact page, and should be read and perhaps considered in a follow up story.

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