A Note To My Teacher

874c6064a32d5cdc7b996bdd22ea0323Dear Mrs. McAuliffe,

It’s almost hard to believe that thirty years have passed since that cold, tragic January morning when you and your crewmates boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger and spread your wings for your final rendezvous with the stars. As a high school student with an avid interest in aviation and space exploration, not only was I excited about another space mission, but I was thrilled at the notion that you would be teaching us from orbit. You had become more than a teacher from Concord High School, you were now America’s teacher, and you were my teacher.

Two years prior, President Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher In Space Program and on July 19, 1985, out of a pool of 11,000 applicants, you were selected as the one who would take us all on the ultimate field trip and teach us about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why. Then, as classrooms across the nation fell silent and as I sat quietly on my bed trying to understand and process what had transpired in those short 73 seconds, I began to realize those lessons would never come. But perhaps they did….

This morning, as I sit in my office grading student’s papers, I am reminded of you and the handful of great educators who helped shape and mold me into what I am today. While the lessons of math, science, English, social studies, and other subjects have certainly come in handy, and while I’ll not have the opportunity to hear your lecture on magnetism, Newton’s laws, or hydroponics, perhaps the most important lessons have come from simply watching the life you lived.

From the slag dumps of a small coal-mining community, to the cockpit of several different types of aircraft, to the bedside of a dying patient, to the inside of a space suit, to the flight deck of a Space Shuttle, to launch operations, and to the inside of a classroom, I have carried you with me. The values of perseverance, commitment, and excellence I observed in you and adapted to my life have resulted in a plethora of opportunities and have served me well.

Now, it is my turn to enter my classroom and touch the future….


A Forever Grateful Student and Fellow Educator

©Copyright 2016 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

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