Monthly Archives: August 2018

McKinney Teachers are Out of This World!

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.

McKinney ISD New Teacher Breakfast at Boyd High School.

McKinney ISD New Teacher Breakfast at Boyd High School.

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.

Year Of Education On Station Poster. #TeacherOnBoard

Year Of Education On Station Poster. #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!

Teachers are Lagrange Points -- the waystation between what is and what can be for students. Beth Beck

Teachers play a crucial role preparing students for the difficult journey ahead.

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.

Dream Big Little Ones globe

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.

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Grape Harvest: Crushing It!

This morning, my sister Aimee and I arose before dawn and traveled to nearby Celina, Texas to participate in our first grape harvest at Eden Hill Vineyard. They supplied gloves, buckets, and nifty little grape razors to free the grapes from the wine. Aimee and I volunteered to be “crushers,” though we had no idea what that meant.

Tempranillo Grape Cluster at Eden Hill Vineyard. Image: Beth Beck 2018

Tempranillo Grape Cluster at Eden Hill Vineyard. Image: Beth Beck 2018

The weather was cool, almost chilly — quite a change from our blistering summer heat. We learned how to remove the grapes, gently, and fill the buckets for crushing. As crushers, we loaded the grape clusters onto a conveyor belt to be crushed between two rollers that separated the grapes from their stems. No stomping the grapes with our feet — aren’t you glad?

Getting the grapes on the conveyer belt was a bit crazy. We could only put so many grapes on each shelf without bruising the grapes. One person “dumped” the grapes from the harvest bins into the conveyor bin, while many hands sorted, stacked, sifted for leaves and sticks. If you’ve ever seen the classic I Love Lucy¬†Season 2 episode in the candy factory where Lucy and Ethel scrambling to wrap the chocolates on the moving belt, that’s totally how we felt today. We just had to laugh. At least we tried!

I Love Lucy: Candy Factory Episode with Lucy and Ethel trying to keep up with the conveyor belt.

I Love Lucy: Candy Factory Episode with Lucy and Ethel trying to keep up with the conveyor belt.

During the crushing process, our Eden Hill hosts received a call from a sister winery, Square Hill, asking for help harvesting their viognier grapes. We give up our crusher assignments, and picked up the gloves and clippers for harvest, Round 2. A group of us caravan-ed down the road to the winery, and spent the next hour or so with new hosts. By this time of the morning, however, the sun was in full scorch-shine mode.

We returned to Eden Hill in time for a wonderful catered lunch. Fortunately, we had an opportunity to chat with wine maker Chris Hornbaker. Poor guy was trying to eat, but we kept peppering him with questions. He’s extremely passionate about the winemaking process — which sounds like an incredibly complicated chemistry experiment. He adopted stainless steel and square barrels for a more sustainable winemaking¬† footprint. He shared the sad tale of oak barrels that are made from 200 year old trees, yet only last for five years in service to wine making.¬†They also collect rainwater on the property to irrigate the vines, and cleanse all the barrels and equipment. You can try it in their wine room, when you come visit Eden Hill. It’s a bit of heaven in a glass. And the wine too!

What had a fabulous time today. We made new friends, experienced our first harvest crush, and learned a bit about the winemaking process. Now I’m curious to learn more. Bottling comes next. I’m in!

Awesome Eden Hill Tempranillo 2018 Crush Crew!

Awesome Eden Hill Tempranillo 2018 Crush Crew!

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