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Former Astronaut Visits Classrooms of NASA Teacher Fellows Program

Former astronaut Jan Davis visited two St. Tammany Parish schools, Mandeville High School and Fontainebleau Junior High School, on January 28, classrooms of teachers who had been named NASA/LaSPACE Michoud Education Fellows for 2009-2010. 

Dr. Davis spoke to the students of Physical Science and Chemistry teacher Dr. Mark Hazlett at Mandeville High School and Donna Frank and Margaret Piazza, teachers of Earth Science and Life Science respectively, at Fontainebleau Junior High School. 

All three teachers are participating in the year long MEF-2 NASA Fellows Program that began in an intensive two week internship at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans last summer and will culminate in a Final Briefing in May.

Dr. Davis became an astronaut in 1987, and has logged over 673 hours in space, flying on three Space Shuttle missions. She currently serves as vice president and deputy general manager of Jacobs Technology operations at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Dr. Davis talked about her experiences during her three space flights and answered students’ questions about life in space. 

“Getting students excited about math and science is important to me.  I enjoy telling young folks about the opportunities related to space exploration,” said Davis. 

She also presented, to Dr. Paulette Perrin, Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist, and the three NASA Fellows, framed pictures signed by the STS-125 crew, the astronauts that the teachers met and were photographed with during the summer internship at Michoud when the astronauts had just returned from their flight in space aboard the shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Telescope.  

This program is part of the efforts of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System to encourage students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),  which are embedded in the MEF NASA Fellows Program.  This visit from Dr. Jan Davis helps support those initiatives
The Michoud Education Fellow Program began in 2008 when several School System educators took part in the inaugural session.

Those participating the first year were Dr. Perrin and teachers Ruth Hill, Monteleone Junior High School; Crystal Drake, St. Tammany Junior High School; Joanne Hobson, Slidell Junior High School; Paul Chandler, Slidell High School, and Deborah Nunez, Covington High School.

The internship program is the result of collaboration among St. Tammany Parish Schools, Louisiana State University/Louisiana Space Consortium, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center/Michoud Assembly Facility. The program encourages educators to communicate the information, experiences, and lessons learned to their students during the school year. 

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System was invited to help develop the education program for teachers that could be duplicated with other parishes in southeast Louisiana.

During the event, educators were welcomed into the Michoud family and even designed their own “mission patch.”

Dr. Perrin said the program offers a working model of what educators want their students to be able to do in a real world setting. “Teachers seldom have the opportunity to study the final product of education, the workplace,“ she said. “Teachers in this program see in action the skills we want our graduates to take with them when they leave our School System.”

Click here to see photo of Dr. Davis visiting Mandeville High School.

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