Without a doubt, one of the saddest days of my teaching career was the day our nation lost the first educator to go into space, New Hampshire history teacher Christa McAuliffe. Fairly new to the profession, I was so proud that a fellow teacher had been selected as the first civilian in space, and a little star-struck by the professionalism, intelligence, and infectious enthusiasm of the chosen candidate, selected from among 11,000 other highly-qualified applicants.
While on her mission, Christa planned to write a journal of her experiences as an astronaut from the perspective that even an ordinary citizen can take center stage in the making of history. She was to have been the perfect example of that. Additionally, she was scheduled to perform lessons and simple scientific experiments aboard the space shuttle which would be viewed by students in classrooms all over America.
Tragically, Christa was one of seven astronauts killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds after lift-off. The journal she never got to finish was replaced by A Journal for Christa: Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space, written by Grace George Corrigan, Christa’s grief-stricken mother. The book is a tender tribute to an extraordinary teacher.A Journal for Christa can be ordered form amazon. I have also included a chapter about Christa McAuliffe in the book I am currently writing, tentatively entitled Chalkboard Heroes.