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Behind the Wings: Changing paths to pursue a passion

In 2016, Piedmont Inflight Policy and Procedures Analyst Jamie Valentine left an established career as an educator to pursue her passion of working in aviation. As a former educator, Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Piedmont’s Inflight team and effectively communicates goals set by leadership to all Inflight team members.

“Jamie is amazing,” said Mandy McGuigan, Director of Inflight. “She is always willing to lend a hand and provide support to the entire team. Her natural teacher instincts kick in anytime we are working on a project as she is quick to lay out a plan for communication, identify concerns and form an action plan for overcoming obstacles.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Education from Shippensburg University, Jamie taught seventh and eighth grade students at an inner- city school in York, Pennsylvania for five years. “I really enjoyed teaching there,” said Jamie. “It was an experience that made a lifelong impact.” While there, Jamie created a pep club that provided an opportunity for students to volunteer their time to give back to the community. The students cleaned parks, improved the school grounds by planting trees and sang for nursing home residents.

She went on to earn her master’s degree in Special Education and shortly thereafter, began teaching special education students in the Southern York County school district where she developed an after-school tutoring program. After ten years and earning her post- graduate certificate as a Supervisor of Special Education from Slippery Rock University, she knew it was time for a change. “Making the move from an established career in the public sector to the private sector was a big change, but I don’t regret it one bit,” said Jamie.

Jamie accepted a job as a program director at a learning center and began her advocacy work. As a special education teacher, Jamie learned that parents of children with individual learning challenges were overwhelmed by the education process and had unanswered questions. She wanted to help and began volunteering as an advocate for parents of students with individual learning challenges. Jamie helps parents navigate the special education system and locates beneficial services within the public education system. She has continued to advocate for parents privately since 2018.

Pursuing her passion to work in the aviation industry, she joined Piedmont as a flight attendant in 2016. A year and a half later, Jamie was promoted to Inflight Policies and Procedures Analyst.

In her current role, Jamie receives customer experience data from Piedmont’s parent company, American Airlines where she analyzes it and looks for patterns.  “I’m able to pull from my experience in teaching and apply that when analyzing the data to make suggestions for improvement,” said Jamie. “I want the team to be successful and I’m fortunate to work with the people in my department where I can utilize my experience in education to support our Inflight team.”

Jamie is an active member of Piedmont’s Professional Women in Aviation Employee Resource Group (ERG) and aspires to encourage and inspire other women. “When I was promoted from a flight attendant into my current role, I had the support of many co-workers and I appreciated that support,” said Jamie. “As a member of the ERG, I want to support other women who, like me, made a career change later in life to pursue a passion and apply what I’ve learned along the way to encourage advancement. I would like to see more women enter the aviation field and succeed.”

Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. In honor of Women’s History Month, Piedmont is proud to recognize our female team members and their contributions to the success of the airline and making a difference in their communities.