Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Fridays: The Challenger Disaster and Teachers Who Inspired You


Welcome to Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week we're taking a look at a dark day in American history: The Challenger Explosion.

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the Challenger Explosion. Even though I was only six, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing that day. The main reason is because chicken pox had struck my 1st grade class, and I was one of its last victims. That cold January morning I was home lounging on the couch in our den. The television was on to the shuttle launch. I was particularly interested since one of the astronauts, C
hrista Mcauliff, shared my name...just a different spelling. Just as my mom went to grab me a Popsicle, history was forever altered.

In later years, Christa and I would share more than just a name--we would share a profession. For many years, Christa had been an 8th grade History teacher in New Hampshire. When President Reagan announced the Teacher in Space Program, Christa applied and won out over 11,000 applicants. She was going to keep a journal of her experience as well as teaching a live class. On that fateful morning, her students sat in an auditorium anxiously watching a live feed of the launch. I can only imagine the horror and shock that morning as they watched their teacher's life come to a fiery end. Not only did she leave behind grieving students, but she also left a nine year old son and six year old daughter.

Christa's influence is still felt in the space program. There are countless awards and scholarships given in her name as well as monuments honoring her sacrifice.

Here are some great quotes from Christa McAuliffe that transcend the space program into the writing game.

"Reach for it. Push yourself as far as you can."

"What are we doing here? We're reaching for the stars."

"May your future be limited only by your dreams!

The question posed today is:

Who is a memorable teacher that influenced your life and/or your writing?

For me, it would be my 8th grade language arts teacher, Mrs. Gwen Lancaster. She was the first person to really read and enjoy my creative writing outside my family, and she greatly encouraged me to write. I won the Young Author's Fair while I was in her class, and I'll never forget the way that shiny blue ribbon felt in my hands.

As far as my teaching, I was greatly influenced by 5th and 6th grade Science and Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Pat Lemeska. When I think about teacher's who taught outside the box, she is one of the only ones who comes to mind. Who else would have dressed up at Halloween to read The Raven while also giving us a "spook house" of peeled grapes for eyes and cold spaghetti for intestines. Seriously, Mrs. Lemeska was like Mr. Keating in Dead Poet's Society. She found new and exciting ways to learn. She also went to a summer internship at NASA between my 5th and 6th grade years.


Laura McMeeking said...

Sadly, I don't actually remember the Challenger exploding. I don't think we were watching the launch. But, I do remember understanding there was a teacher on board, because that's what made me realize that anyone can go to space if they want it enough. She started my dream, really!

As far as teachers go, I've been blessed with some AMAZING teachers. I can't really pick one who influenced me the most, because they all did in different ways. But, I'll pick out Mr. Collins, my high school choir teacher. He ALWAYS believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself. He challenged me more than anyone had at the time, and he really helped mold my self-esteem, which had been completely lacking all through high school. I'm not really sure where I'd be today if he hadn't made me see that I can do things I think I can't just by pushing myself hard enough.

Great post, Krista!! Thanks for making me reflect this morning!

Jamie B said...

That was a terrible, sad day, one of those moments like 9/11 when you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. I was in sixth grade gym class and they sent us back to our classroom. We knew something happend, but didn't know what until they turned the televisions on and we saw the explosion.

As for favorite teachers, Mr. Motz, my 11th grade English teacher!

Debra Driza said...

I still remember what my 9th grade English teacher wrote in my yearbook. To paraphrase, he told me not to lose my childlike enthusiasm for life (and he made a point to say not childISH, but childLIKE). That totally stuck with me. Also, he acted out our vocab words, so whenever I read words like vicariously or indefatigable, I hear his voice. :D

E. Arroyo said...

I cried that day. She has always inspired me. Great post!