Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

Captain Ballenilla speaks to a class of 2nd graders.
Captain Ballenilla speaks to a class of 2nd graders.

A couple of years ago when I was a teacher, I invited my friend over to speak to my class about flying and aviation in general. It was part of a thematic unit my colleague and I had put together for Black History Month, tying not only reading and writing but history, science, math and even art as well. I shared my own experiences as a pilot but I wanted to take it further.

My friend Enrique went to the same school and lived in the same neighborhood I lived in but we had never met. It wasn’t until I went to flight school in Alabama that our paths had crossed. I learned then that we had many friends in common back in Washington Heights. Truly a small world. After flight school, his career took off (excuse the pun) while I took another path much closer to the ground. We’ve remained very good friends ever since.

I asked him to talk to my 2nd grade class and share his experiences as a professional pilot for the airlines. He was very kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to do so. They had many questions prepared days before his arrival.

He sat on a stool while the class sat on the rug, eagerly listening to his every word. The questions they asked were tough and very insightful, much to his surprise. He was very impressed.

As he answered questions, I took this picture.

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