Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

30 Years after Challenger: Christa McAuliffe's Legacy Lives on through Her Students

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

30 Years after Challenger: Christa McAuliffe's Legacy Lives on through Her Students

Article excerpt

Three decades after the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated following takeoff, killing all aboard, one of its crew members continues to inspire her former students.

Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher and payload specialist on the Challenger, died along with her six fellow astronauts during the high-profile disaster. Ms. McAuliffe earned her spot on the spacecraft through the Teacher in Space Project, and was to be the first civilian and teacher in space. The aim of the mission was to bring an educator on the Challenger and have them broadcast lessons back to students on Earth while in orbit. McAuliffe was selected for the assignment from a pool of more than 11,000 people.

The Concord High School Class of 1986 watched in horror on Jan. 28, 1986 as the space shuttle broke apart only 73 seconds after launching on live television. McAuliffe was one of the New Hampshire school's social studies teachers, and many of the students she taught in the 1980s are still affected by her enthusiasm and inspired by her work today.

"As a teacher now, I know that I want to show respect and show my students that I care," Tammy Hickey, a student in McAuliffe's law class who now works as an instructor at a Florida junior high school, told the Associated Press.

"I can say to emulate how she was, would be a service to these kids for sure," Ms. Hickey said.

Another former pupil, Joanne Walton, currently teaches elementary students in Virginia, and says that awareness of the disaster still follows her today.

"I try to be very mindful," she told AP. "She knew that teaching was way more than just imparting information and that it was really important to know students."

Holly Merrow, a Maine math teacher who took McAuliffe's course on American women in history, wants people to remember her motto, "I touch the future. I teach."

"I hear people use it, and I wonder if they know that it came from her," Ms. Merrow said to the AP.

And Scott Reynolds, who graduated from Concord High in 1987 and currently teaches at a private college preparatory school in the city, drives his students past McAuliffe's grave site during a field trip for one of his courses. …

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