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Carrying on the Legacy of the First Teacher in Space

January 28, 2016

On a typical walk down the halls of Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, NH, you might see a group of girls coding on iPads during lunchtime, a fifth-grade class taking apart old computers, or third-graders building digital models of flying machines – if not all three at once. The school takes its commitment to innovation and exploration from its namesake, Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher at Concord High School who was chosen by NASA to be the first teacher in space. McAuliffe died thirty years ago today in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, but as they mark the anniversary of that event, the school continues to stay true to her inspiring spirit.

From the day the school opened in 2012, Principal Kris Gallo and tech specialist Heather Drolet have worked to make their school a model for the power of technology in the classroom. Their goal, as Drolet put it, is to use tech “to get kids thinking creatively and using problem solving, critical thinking skills in any subject area.” You can see this vision in the 1-to-1 iPad program that enables students to create models, design experiments, and everything in between, or the “Christa’s Coders” elective, meant specially for girls who hope to follow in McAuliffe’s footsteps in the fields of STEM.

The whole school community strives to bring McAuliffe’s passion for creativity and innovation to life, and technology plays a key role in helping students reach for the stars. As we reflect on the legacy of Christa McAuliffe, her words can serve as a guide for everyone who hopes to make change in the classroom: “I touch the future. I teach.”