This morning, I had the great honor of attending the McKinney ISD new teacher breakfast hosted by the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. This year’s theme –“Teachers are Out of This World” — was a perfect fit for me to share some space-y awesomeness from my time at NASA.
The event, convened in the McKinney Boyd High School cafeteria, was packed with excited and enthusiastic educators. Many of the teachers are fresh out of college, while others transferred from various school districts. Bringing teachers together in this way creates community, and shows them how much the City values them.
I love the opportunity to ignite a passion for human spaceflight with audiences. This morning, I offered empirical evidence that teachers really ARE out of this world. In fact, former Teacher and Spacewalker Ricky Arnold is orbiting Earth right now onboard the International Space Station. The “Year of Education on Station” campaign will go through October 2019. Teachers can participate: #TeacherOnBoard.
I asked how many in the room were aware we have an orbiting laboratory with six humans living and working in low earth orbit. Only a portion of the room raised their hands. What? How can that be? We need explorers for the future. Our teachers are key to preparing tomorrow’s cosmic pioneers. I hope today opened their eyes to the possibilities our heavens offer for knowledge and understanding about the universe we live in. They can create dreamers and doers, artists and technicians, travelers and explorers. I see teachers as human Lagrange points — the equilibrium state between childhood and adulthood, between today and tomorrow. They can unlock potential in the students, that the students (and their parents) may not see. I’m confident these teachers are up to the challenge!
A special note of thanks to McKinney Chamber President, Lisa Hermes — space geek extraordinaire — for inviting me to speak, and for the amazing Jocelyn Hudson, Events Manager, who put on today’s successful event. They’ve both been so gracious to me, as a newcomer to this City. I love meeting new members of the community. This morning was no exception. Not only did I meet many enthusiastic teachers and representatives of the business community, I also sat with several members of City Council: District 2 City Councilman Rainey Rogers, District 3 Scott Elliott, and District 4 Chuck Branch. I spoke with two of the McKinney ISD Board Members: Board Vice President Amy Dankel, a fellow Virginia Tech alum; and 5th generation McKinney native, Kenneth Ussery. School Board and City Council are elected to serve four-year terms, and clearly love their role in shaping a great place for us to live, work, and go to school.
The City of McKinney really does treat her teachers well. I learned today that the school district pays teachers more than the surrounding school districts — to attract the best of the best, and to keep them in McKinney. Well done, McKinney! It really is a wonderful life here in my new hometown.