Speaker Profile: Reba Gilman is the founder of Aviation High School and has served as Principal and CEO since 2003. In this role she has successfully built the program from the ground up, recruiting students and families, been the catalyst in securing public and private funding and developing key partnerships with business, industry, government, and labor. In 2008, she was nominated and selected to be one of two Pathfinders inducted into the Pathfinder Hall of Fame of The Museum of Flight.
This award was in recognition of her outstanding contributions to aviation and aerospace and (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. She is the only K-12 educator to receive this award in the 27 years that it has been presented.
Prior to Aviation High School, Reba was the Principal/Director of the Sea-Tac Occupational Skills Center for 16 years, a regional technical school that serves students from the Highline, Federal Way, Maple Valley, and Tukwila school districts. She was recognized in 2002 as Administrator of the Year by the Washington Association of Career and Technical Administrators.
Reba has also served as an Assistant Principal/Vocational Director in the Tahoma School District, a Coordinator of Career Education and a Marketing and Business teacher in the Richland School District. Experience in private industry includes owning and operating an interior design business, working in the aerospace industry and in the field of human resources. She earned teaching and administrative credentials from Eastern and Central Washington Universities.
Most recently, Reba was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Highline Schools Foundation in recognition of her commitment to ensuring that all students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship. This award spoke specifically to her ability to create partnerships between the schools she has led and the communities in which students will work and live.
Reba is an entrepreneurial leader who believes that schools can be college prep and responsive to the critical needs within the workforce. She is deeply committed to STEM education and ensuring that there is a qualified pipeline of future workers to fulfill the critical needs for scientists, engineers, and innovators who can keep our economy strong and our country competitive. As the Raisbeck Aviation High School (RAHS) emerges as a prominent structure on the west campus of the Museum of Flight, Reba's dream of creating a “lighthouse” for STEM education becomes an emergent reality. Communities across the nation are contacting the Highline School District and The Museum of Flight inquiring about application of this unique contextual learning model in which students solve complex, authentic problems occurring in STEM work places and present evidence of their learning to industry experts for feedback that informs their learning. And, indeed the RAHS concept and new school design is one intended to inspire explorers from other communities to develop plans tailored to public/private partnerships in their locations.