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From the Desk of Dr. English: Happy Holidays

Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), Centura College and Tidewater Tech’s Executive Vice President Dr. Joel English recaps 2020: The Year of Essential Skilled Trades  Workers  

Hello my friends,  

The holiday season is the right time to stop, spend time with family, reflect on our blessings, and find ways to spread joy to those around us.  2020 presented us with many challenges and attempted to turn our lives upside down. The pandemic led our institutions to truly innovate and develop flexible and attainable training programs so our students could continue their education and become essential workers across the country. As we enter the heart of the holiday season, I wanted to reflect on all that our students, graduates, faculty, and staff have achieved, despite the hardships 2020 brought us. This holiday season might be a bit different than the past, but I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe, happy, and healthy. 

Reflecting on the Successes of the Year 

While we prepared our students for certifications and well-paying jobs after graduation this year, we also developed and hosted community outreach programs that primarily focused on benefitting the communities around us. Events included summer camp for children, training programs for high school students, the construction of bicycles for less fortunate children, and so many other outreach projects that supported our communities. Last week at our AIM campus in Norfolk, Virginia, we opened the gym to The Wes Strong Foundation and held the 10th Annual Wes’ Wish Toy Drive. This event enabled families whose children are fighting cancer at the local children’s hospital to visit the campus and select presents for their family members at no charge. Santa even made a showing!  I hope you enjoy the pictures from the event. 

Maybe even more powerful than our staff’s gifts and special programming for our communities has been how our students and faculty have contributed to the community as part of their educational process. Over the past year, our Medical Assisting students have provided health screenings at homeless shelters; our Aviation Maintenance students have built sheet metal clip boards and storage boxes for local hospitals; our Carpentry and Electrician students have built gazebos at senior centers; our HVAC students have renovated the heating and air conditioning at houses of worship and senior homes; our Building Maintenance students have installed flooring and plumbing fixtures at churches; and students and faculty have worked together throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to use the skills they are developing in class to benefit the community around us. I am so proud of how you all have contributed to your communities by being a member of our institution. 

Looking to the Future of Service Learning

In 2021, we will dig even deeper into “Service Learning.” Service Learning is what happens when we meet the needs of our community with the skills and resources found within our educational programs. I have challenged our faculty and staff to not only educate our students by teaching them the objectives and skills in our programs, but to actually use those skills within projects that benefit the people in our communities.   

I believe that a career-focused education is the second most powerful thing that our institution has to offer. What’s the single most powerful thing? A career-focused education that directly impacts the community while providing students with practical, hands-on projects that help them develop their skills in meaningful ways. That’s what Service Learning accomplishes and that’s what I hope you’ll experience as a student, faculty member, or staff member of our institution—the joy that comes from helping to those around you with the tools and skills of your career-focused program. 

If you are a student or teacher within our organization, I challenge you to think about ways that you can use what you’re learning in the classroom to benefit people in your community. Chat with your teachers, staff members, or co-workers about how our educational process can enrich our community. In 2021, I hope all of our students will have the opportunity to not only learn, but also give back during the process. 

Thank you for the incredible impact you are making within our academic community, and I wish you a tremendous holiday season. 


Dr. Joel A. English 

Executive Vice President 

About Tidewater Tech Tidewater Tech is a career training school that specializes in trade vocations including Auto Technician, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Building Maintenance and Repair and Welding. The school offers professional facilities, knowledgeable instructors, day or evening classes, job placement assistance, and is accredited by the Commission of the Council of Occupational Education (COE). Tidewater Tech is certified to Operate by SCHEV. Learn more at or like them on Facebook at

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