“The one constant in my day to day is that everything I do, everything my department does, fulfills the museum's mission."
- Amanda Goodheart Parks, Ph.D, Director of Education
Education has been an important part of the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association since the very beginning. In the early years informal educational activities included talks for members and traveling exhibits. By the 1980s, more formalized education programs had begun under the direction of former Chairman of the Board of Directors Robert Stepanek. Following his death in 1994, the museum named its current conference room the Robert H. Stepanek Education Center. After the opening of the B-29 Hangar in 2003, education shifted to a new classroom in that hangar, and the Education Department continues to operate from that location today.
In 1999, the museum hired its first full-time Director of Educational Programs, Caroline d'Otreppe. Caroline established several new programs including the museum's SOAR grant funded field trip program.
Following Caroline’s retirement in 2015, Amanda Goodheart Parks, Ph.D. joined NEAM's staff as the Director of Education and has continued to expand and professionalize the museum's education department together with her dedicated team of ten part-time staff. Amanda has developed new school, youth, scout, public, and travel programs that serve thousands of visitors.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amanda and her team adapted the museum's onsite education programs to ensure visitor and staff safety, as well as launched new distance learning and virtual programs serving audiences from across the region and around the world.
Former Executive Director Michael Speciale and current Director of Education Amanda Goodheart Parks, Ph.D. reflect on the museum's education programs.