OAK HILL, W.Va. — Following the aerospace compact signing last week between Marshall University, Yeager Airport, state Department of Commerce and the Department of Education, Kim Cortines could not be happier for the future.

Cortines is an Aerospace & Aviation teacher at Oak Hill High School in Fayette County and said the partnership between everyone will only grow the programs and help her career technical education (CTE), students.

The partnership is meant to drive educational and economic advances in the state in the fields of flying, as Marshall University is set to open a School of Aviation at Yeager in fall 2021.

“We have great talent in our youth, we have great job skills in our youth, we have kids that want to work,” Cortines said. “This gives them another choice of something to do with a very good paycheck. It’s not a small paycheck, it’s a nice paycheck that will support their family and they have a place to go and learn about this.”

Cortines said having Marshall on board with the Department of Education is terrific because it allows students from her classroom and the other four CTE aerospace programs in the state to have scholarships translate over.

Five high schools in the state offer CTE Aerospace and Aviation Technology Programs including Oak Hill, Brooke High School, Huntington High School, Greenbrier East High School, and Liberty High School.

Cortines said her students at Oak Hill from freshman to senior year finish 23 projects including flying on the flight simulator, building RC planes, launching rockets, cation designs, and learning how to navigate in the air using the sky vector programs, just to name a few.

She hopes Marshall’s new program with Yeager and Mountwest Community and Technical College, and the veteran program at Fairmont State University, will encourage students to stay in-state.

“We want our kids to stay in West Virginia. We all want our kids to stay in West Virginia, I want my children to stay here,” Cortines said.

The state Department of Education said the CTE Aerospace and Aviation Technology Programs planned for the future include Bridgeport High School, Lincoln County High School, and Mingo Central High School.