AFA Announces 2017 National Teacher of the Year

Benjamin Barkey, left, with student.

Benjamin Barkey, left, with student.

AFA is proud to announce Benjamin Barkey of the Warsaw Community School System in Warsaw, Indiana, as the 2017 National Teacher of the Year Presented by Rolls-Royce. As part of AFA’s mission to encourage education in Aerospace Education and STEM, the Teacher of the Year program ensures America’s aerospace excellence by supporting the teachers that carry out that mission in the classroom.

“We congratulate Mr. Benjamin Barkey on his recognition by the Air Force Association for exemplary efforts to further Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education,” said Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce President of Defense Aerospace, North America. “STEM is crucial not only to the future of the US Air Force, but also to Rolls-Royce, as we design and manufacture some of the most advanced propulsion systems in the world. We are proud to sponsor the AFA National Teacher of the Year program and offer our sincere thanks to all the teachers around the US who work every day to educate the engineers of tomorrow.”

Barkey’s passion for STEM education was instilled by his own childhood teachers. Now, he is a dynamic STEM educator and mentor to everyone in his school system, students and teachers alike. Numerous STEM opportunities are now available to the Warsaw Community Schools because of Barkey’s enthusiastic efforts, to include; a mobile STEM Laboratory that takes STEM learning to all elementary schools in the district.

“Ben is a consummate professional. He has made contributions as a leader, a teacher, a mentor, a role model, a coach, and a partner in our system and community. As the educational environment continues to respond to new challenges, Mr. Barkey develops creative approaches so that students continue to achieve excellence in the years ahead. His service to our schools has led to the creation of a roadmap of K-12 STEM education through the Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institute, which will impact many future generations,” said Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. David Hoffert. Dr. Hoffert has dubbed the growth of STEM education in the school system as the “Ben factor”.

Teaching middle school science and math is where Barkey’s 15-year educational career began. His inquiry-based instructional style yielded impressive student achievement results, leading him to become the lead facilitator for the transformation of a K-8 school into the first Indiana STEM certified school, Washington STEM Academy (WSA).

While at WSA, he was the STEM Instructional Coach where he mentored students and teachers in a variety of new STEM programs and helped them integrate project-based learning into their classrooms.

“Teachers need not be masters of content, but, rather, masters of learning. Teachers need to be facilitators of learning and model their own learning for students; they need to take risks and join their students in exploring new things that interest them. STEM is not just a four-letter acronym—it is an educational style; the tool for today to prepare for tomorrow,” said Barkey.

While Barkey has lead 5 student teams in AFA’s CyberPatriot Program and 72 F.I.R.S.T Robotics Lego League teams, he is dedicated to training other educators to become team coaches and integrate STEM into their curriculums. Some of the programs he provides guidance and training for include: Lego, F.I.R.S.T., and Vex Robotics; 3D printing integration throughout curriculums; Projects Lead the Way, Wet, and Wild; Hoosier River Watch; Vernier Probes; Lego Simple Machines; Apple iPad Creativity; Aleks; and Dreambox.

The top three AFA National Teachers of the Year presented by Rolls-Royce are as follows:

Benjamin Barkey

2017 AFA National Teacher of the Year

L.D. Bell Museum Chapter 411, IN

Caroline Little

First Runner Up

General E.W. Rawlings Chapter 213, MN

Nancy Parra-Quinlan

Second Runner Up

Frank Luke Chapter 151, AZ

The Air Force Association is grateful to Rolls-Royce for their continued sponsorship of the AFA Teacher of the Year program, allowing the program to continue honoring educational innovators in STEM. The AFA Teacher of the Year program dates back to the early 1990’s where the mission to recognize classroom teachers (K-12) for their innovative and successful instructional programs originally began.

Get to Know Your AFA Member Benefits

Are you getting the most out of your AFA membership? From insurance to shopping and travel discounts, AFA offers countless benefits to help you through every phase of life. Click here to learn more about all the benefits AFA offers our members. Below are a few examples of benefits our Members receive.

Health21 E-Magazine

AFA is partnering with Health21 to deliver our members the most up to date and pressing information on topics related to health with content focusing on the Air Force. Starting soon, each month members will receive this e-magazine as an additional member benefit. 

Medical Air Services Program

Medical Air Services Association (MASA) enables AFA Members to enroll in the premier worldwide emergency assistance program. You can have the peace of mind of knowing that your transportation home is covered wherever you travel in the world at no cost to you, with no deductibles, no co-pays, no dollar limits on air transport costs, and no claim forms. Instead, you just pay MASA annual dues which will never be raised and which are discounted for AFA Members! Learn more about MASA, here

Support AFA through USAA

USAA has been a valued partner of AFA for several years. USAA offers valuable financial services including banking, financial advice and investment planning.

Did you know? It’s now easier than ever to support AFA through your USAA membership. All USAA credit card holders can now donate $10 directly to AFA for every 1,000 reward points they have earned. Learn more about the USAA reward points donation program here.

Exclusive Worldwide Hotel Discount Program

Tired of checking five or six different sources for hotel savings? AFA makes it possible for you to make one call or visit to our Exclusive Worldwide Hotel Discount Program website to check multiple hotel reservation networks at once and find the best rates offered.

Our analysis shows savings averaging 10% to 20% better than online travel agents. Some members saved as much as 50%! In fact, the AFA rate beat the leading online discount sites 98.6% of the time.

Next time you need to book a hotel anywhere in the world, book with confidence through AFA. Learn more about these amazing deals, here

AFA Breakfast Series on Capitol Hill

Our recently updated AFA Breakfast Series on Capitol Hill has been a great success. Each event has sold out, and the program’s mission to facilitate communication between Air Force leaders and industry, Airmen, government and the media is ensuring the Air Force voice is heard. In July, AFA was honored to host two distinguished speakers as a part of the series.

First, we heard from General Mike Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command on July 11. Gen Holmes assured attendees that ACC would point their efforts toward three main areas focusing on rebuilding readiness, building leaders, and bringing the future faster. In order to fulfill this vision, ACC needs help from outside the US Air Force to overcome obstacles in their path. The issues include; a lack of a predictable budget that also gives Air Force leadership the spending flexibility to fit mission requirements, a severe congestion of the security clearance pipeline which has been barring Airmen from being able to work in the field which they were trained, and an absence of jurisdiction to handle incidents involving small unmanned aerial system and to adequately protect the Air Force’s assets. Read the full recap of Gen Holmes’ breakfast in AFA’s Air Force Magazine.

On July 26, AFA hosted General Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Gen Goldfein spoke before another sold-out audience on his priorities as Chief, again focusing on readiness, advancing technology and ensuring the Air Force is prepared for the future. Gen Goldfein proudly stated that the United States’ “greatest strategic and asymmetric advantage” are our alliances, which is something US adversaries lack. When asked to comment on Congress’ proposed Space Corps, Gen Goldfein noted that both the Air Force and Congress all want to reach the same goal – to maintain dominance in air and space – but simply need to evaluate the best way to do so. Read more about Gen Goldfein’s breakfast in AFA’s Air Force Magazine.

Upcoming Breakfast Series

We hope you will join us for the next AFA Breakfast Series on Capitol Hill on October 18, 2017 with General Lori Robinson, Commander, USNORTHCOM and General Darren McDew, Commander, USTRANSCOM in November (date to be determined).  

In the meantime, we encourage you to attend Mitchell Institute’s Breakfast Series. Click below for more information on the Strategic Deterrence Breakfast Series and the Space Breakfast Series.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

A special thank you to our AFA Breakfast Series sponsors: Aurora Flight Sciences, General Dynamics, Harris Corp., Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Pratt & Whitney, The Roosevelt Group and SAAB.

The Breakfast Series is an excellent opportunity for sponsors to meet, greet and listen to senior Air Force decision makers. Unique sponsorship opportunities are available for these events. If you are interested in sponsoring, please contact Fred Ullman at or 703-247-5842.