Very few places hold a place in my heart like Huntsville, Alabama. It never fails – when I cross the hill on I-565 and see the very top of the Saturn V, my heart flutters! Incredible history, diverse people, and a culture that makes it a unique experience for any kind of person. One of these experiences combines everything Huntsville has to offer into one unforgettable opportunity: the Space Academy for Educators at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center!
Each summer, hundreds of educators from around the world descend upon the U.S. Space & Rocket Center for some out-of-this-world professional development. For the first time in 4 years, I haven’t been with them all summer while they train like astronauts, engage in engineering design challenges, and build leadership skills and relationships that turn many educators into dynamic, powerhouse STEM and space enthusiasts. But this summer, we got to do something a little different: the Advanced Space Academy for Educators!
These teachers are incredible. I was inspired by the body of work and expertise that each of them had developed since their time going through their initial Space Camp experience. Each person learned how to challenge everyone else on the team to pull from their experiences to not only challenge themselves in the present, but to also think ahead and set some pretty amazing goals for one another!
We got great feedback on some of the new lessons and programming that we tried out with this amazing group of educators. The neatest thing that I got to witness throughout the week was the multitude of the ideas that they were throwing around. Being surrounded by passionate educators from your “tribe” has a way of inspiring one to take risks and push to the next level as a teacher. That’s what I saw these amazing teachers do, and it was incredible to witness.
My takeaways from the Advanced Space Academy for Educators experience: teachers are professionals at making dreams come true, disappointment can suddenly turn into amazing opportunity if you keep a positive outlook, and always, always, always, take a second to put yourself into the shoes and mindset of a child.