The West Michigan Aviation Academy (WMAA) is the brain child of Billionaire Dick DeVos. The school has nearly 400 students ranging from grade 9-12. DeVos developed a passion for aviation at a young age. Because of this, he opted to open the academy to help children who also share the passion but are also equally passionate about education.
The school was built in 2010. Students were chosen via the lottery system. The students lucky enough to gain entry to the school will study aviation, technology, engineering and software design. Most of the students come from low income families. “I feel that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background should have the opportunity to further their education,” said school principal Pat Cwayna.
The schools are guided by a number of principles that are aimed to help students many years after they live the academy. Trust, Respect and accountability are the golden rules all students must live by.
Students can also gain credits that will transfer to college. Located at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, WMAA is in the middle of a $2 million upgrade. Three phases have already been completed. The fourth is slated to finished by early 2017. There will be more classrooms, laboratories and an airplane hangar, said Cwayna. The expansion will also mean that the school can accommodate additional students.
Dick DeVos says he is thrilled at how well the school is doing. The DeVos family are well known throughout the state of Michigan as generous philanthropists and huge proponents of education. The have actively supported school choice for years.
In May of 2017, the first class will graduate from WMAA. “We hope this opportunity will give them the springboard that they need to succeed,” said Cwyana. Individuals wanting to learn more about WMAA are encouraged to visit their website.