Richard “Dick” DeVos has turned his passion for flying into a unique charter high school to help other kids learn about aviation. The West Michigan Aviation Academy has about 600 students from all backgrounds. Opened in 2010, the charter school offers a mixture of other disciplines including engineering, math, and robotic systems.
The West Michigan Aviation Academy is currently housed at a hanger in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school has a great deal of updated equipment including 2 Cessnas airplanes donated by Delta Airlines.
DeVos, son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, was always taught the importance of hard work and education. His philosophies seem to be rubbing off on his students. In the last three years, junior SAT scores (1072) are among the highest in the state and the nation.
Like most charter schools, West Michigan Aviation is tuition-free. Student fees are covered by the state. According to records, the DeVoses have also chipped in a significant amount of money to make sure the school has everything it needs to succeed.
A number of educators who have toured the facility are extremely impressed by what they see. University of Michigan Dean of Engineering Alec Gallimore says he was blown away by what he saw.
“The work ethic of the students is highly impressive,” said Gallimore.
Tulane economics professor Doug Harris says he was also impressed but he is wondering about the tremendous cost of the school and whether or not it will be able to sustain itself.
So far, the school has had three graduation classes. DeVos says he is confident that the school will continue to be successful despite potential challenges. Most people believe DeVos’s leadership and track record will help West Michigan Aviation to thrive.