Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Salute to Barbara Morgan

While I was teaching, I was a member of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and as such, had the opportunity to attend many state and national conventions. I attended a few math and reading conventions as well, but the NSTA conventions were always more enjoyable, at least for me. There were more sessions. More engaging keynote speakers. The exhibit hall was actually a little overwhelming and I generally spent an entire afternoon browsing the booths and collecting all the freebies.

When I first started teaching, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some remarkable science teachers in my district and the neighboring district to the south. :) One of the most influential teachers I worked with was George Tinker, the biology teacher at Marshfield (Steve Prefontaine graduated from MHS in 1969). It was through him that I learned of the many opportunities available to teachers - grants & awards, paid summer assignments (TOSAs), corporate & government teacher workshops (NASA, FDA, etc.), and community partnerships for the classroom.

I started to apply for grants and summer workshops. In June 2000, I was selected to participate in a 2-week teacher workshop at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California (all expenses paid)! It was a chance of a lifetime and it opened many doors for me. That summer marked a big transition point in my professional life - I was no longer the elementary science specialist - in the fall, I would become a 5th grade classroom teacher. It was a board decision based upon legislature funding and budget cuts - it had nothing to do with me - but I was feeling down none the less.

Interacting with other elementary teachers who had strong interests in science and meeting all the engineers and scientists at JPL (all of whom thanked us - for it was teachers like us who had inspired them to pursue careers in science) lifted my spirits.

In March of 2001, I attended the NSTA national convention in St.Louis, Missouri (most of my trip was funded by an award I received from CIBA and the Council for Elementary Science Instruction or CESI). The highlight of the trip was the CESI luncheon. Shortly after our arrival, DH and I were ushered to a table that had been reserved for us and several council members. I was introduced to Barbara Morgan and several council members. Everyone was genuinely excited to meet me. It was a strange feeling... everyone was giving me hugs and shaking my hand. The CESI/CIBA award, I learned, was their highest honor and Barbara Morgan was a past recipient.

When I was finally able to sit down and take a moment to look over the agenda, I discovered that Bill Nye was also being presented an award. There were over 400 people at this luncheon - including a few JPL teacher alumni from the previous summer. When Barbara Morgan gave her address, she said, "Isn't it wonderful to have bright, young people like ... ..... teaching?" She actually used my name!! I was so honored.

Let us all salute Barbara Morgan, a former Idaho elementary science teacher, and her launch aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. Morgan is one of seven STS-118 crewmates selected for the 11-day construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled to launch today, Wednesday, August 8.

In the words of Bill Nye, "Science is what keeps the P B and J in teaching ... the Passion Beauty and Joy."

Read more about Barbara Morgan and her upcoming space flight.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine how exciting that would be!


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