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Students on board Robert Moreno | Sat, May 25 2013 12:00 PM

Mac McLaughlin’s vision of bringing classrooms aboard the USS Midway for the last five years has garnered him the Classroom of the Future Foundation Visionary and Outstanding Leadership Award.

The achievement recognizes classroom leaders and programs that inspire students to achieve through the development of innovative learning programs.

“This award goes to a person who reflects the mission of the Classroom of the Future Foundation the most,” Bruce Braciszewki, director of Classrooms of the Future Foundation, said.

“Supporting the mission and programs is what Mac has been doing for years.”

McLaughlin, CEO of USS Midway Museum and a Chula Vista resident, inspires students to learn by hosting class for a day on the 1,000-foot-long, 70,000- ton ship that’s been used for numerous humanitarian missions.

Just like a regular school where class is in session for 180 days out of the year, the Midway, docked at Navy Pier, is booked for half of the year with schools from Oceanside to San Ysidro taking a break from learning at their campuses to enjoy the makeshift classrooms on the aircraft carrier.

One classroom on the Midway was once a bunkroom where sailors would sleep. Now students learn about electricity in the transformed classroom. Another classroom was at one time a mess hall.

McLaughlin said he worked with California to ensure the classrooms aboard the ship were up to standards.

Retired teachers and paid volunteers devise a curriculum specified in math, social studies and science for second- through eighth-graders.

Depending on the grade, students learn about electricity, Newton’s Law and weights and measures, all while having fun and pretending they are on an excursion, Sara Hanscom, director of education for the USS Midway, said.

“It makes education fun,” Hanscom said.

Tickets for the innovative classrooms range from $6 to $9 depending on the grade.

Hanscom said dates for the Midway classrooms sell out fast, and have been sold out every year for the past five years.

The money accumulated from the program goes directly to the No Child Left Ashore scholarship fund, it also goes to help pay for those who cannot afford a ticket to pay for the learning experience.

McLaughlin said students enjoy the classrooms.

“The Midway is one of the coolest classrooms in America,” he said.

McLaughlin said getting the award is nice, but he said it does more for the ship than it does for him.

“I get the appreciation that the USS Midway Museum is more than just a museum in the community.”

The Classroom of the Future Foundation is a non-profit organization that brings education and business communities together to create partnerships which create innovative learning environments.

McLaughlin was honored with the Visionary and Outstanding Leadership Award earlier this week.

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