Rich Santer, a teacher at , recently received the Turner N. Wiley Teacher of the Year Award.
This honor, named after the late NASA Chief of the Communication Engineering Branch Turner N. Wiley, allows Challenger Center’s international network of Challenger Learning Centers to recognize teachers from their communities who exemplify the spirit of the Challenger crew’s education mission, and who share a commitment to learning about science, mathematics and technology.
Staff members from each of the Challenger Learning Centers are invited to nominate one instructor who had cultivated a strong relationship with their local Challenger Learning Center; and whose commitment to education has made a noticeable impact on students and the community at large.
“The gifted teachers who receive this award may come from different places or teach different grades, but they are linked together by a genuine desire to ignite their students’ curiosities about our universe, to engage them in learning and discovery, and to teach them that their futures have no boundaries,” Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, the founding chairman of Challenger Center, said.
Santer has been bringing his students to the Challenger Center for simulated space missions since 1996. Throughout his twenty-six year teaching career in the East Meadow School District, Santer has involved his students in a multitude of special space education program. His students have had two experiments selected by NASA for flight on Space Shuttles (STS 102 & STS 108). His students have interviewed astronauts on the International Space Station via HAM radio and studied the Earth using the Space Station’s camera. Santer’s students have also hosted exchange students who were the children and grandchildren of cosmonauts from Star City, Russia.
More recently, his current fifth graders have photographed the surface of the Moon using NASA’s GRAIL satellites currently in lunar orbit through the MoonKAM program. Santer, a Project Astro teacher, currently has his students partnered with amateur astronomers manipulating astro-photographs through a Huntington Arts Council grant.
What do you think of the work Rich Santer has done? Tell us in the comments.