Press Release

Science Educators Honored as “Teacher of the Year” by Challenger Center

By SpaceRef Editor
May 18, 2012
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Science Educators Honored as “Teacher of the Year” by Challenger Center

The Education Mission of Christa McAullife and the 51-L Crew Continues as Challenger Center Names Four Educators as Teacher of the Year

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) announced today the recipients of its 2012 Teacher of the Year awards. Four elementary and middle school teachers were named as recipients, which recognizes educators who exemplify the spirit of Challenger Center’s education mission and share a commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning.

Challenger Center congratulates its Teacher of the Year recipients:

– Evan Justin, Earth-Space science teacher at McMurray Middle School, in Vashon Island, WA
– Randi Dotter, Science teacher at Cotopaxi Consolidated Schools, in Cotopaxi, CO
– Melanie Canaday, Science teacher at Berkeley Middle School, Berkeley, MO
– Rich Santer, 5th grade teacher at Bowling Green Elementary School, Westbury, NY

The recipients were nominated by one of the 47 Challenger Learning Centers located across the United States, Canada, Korea and England, based on their strong relationship with their local Learning Center’s educational mission and their impact on student learning and the STEM education community.

The Teacher of the Year award recognition includes the presentation of a historical, limited edition Apollo 8 medallion produced by NASA. The medallions contain small amounts of pure aluminum carried into space by Apollo astronaut Frank Borman and were struck in honor of Apollo 8, the historic mission that culminated in man’s first orbit of the moon.

The Teacher of the Year medallions are special gifts from the late Mr. Turner N. Wiley, a supporter of Challenger Center and former Chief of NASA’s Communication Branch for Engineering at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. His gift is used to honor teachers who perform exemplary work in science education and to reward educators who are working in both classrooms and Challenger Learning Centers to cultivate the next generation of space science explorers.

June Scobee Rodgers, the founding Chairman of Challenger Center for Space Science Education and widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, said: “These four gifted teachers come from diverse geographic regions, teach different grade levels, and work with students of varying abilities. What links them together is a genuine desire to ignite their students’ curiosities about the universe that surrounds them, as well as to convince them that their futures literally have no boundaries. All of us at Challenger Center are grateful that each of these teachers have found our Challenger Learning Center programs to be a fundamental component of their STEM curriculum.”

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its international network of 47 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center’s network of Challenger Learning Centers across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 400,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs, and engage over 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops and other programs. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit


Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Steve Kussmann
700 N. Fairfax St., Suite 302
Alexandria, VA 22314

SpaceRef staff editor.