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NEA commemorates 25th anniversary of Challenger explosion

Teacher Christa McAuliffe raised awareness of profession’s importance

WASHINGTON - January 28, 2011 -

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the deaths of seven crew members, including New Hampshire social science teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was set to become the first teacher and civilian in space.

McAuliffe, selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in NASA’s The Teacher in Space Project, had made plans to provide lessons from the shuttle on the benefits of space travel. Christa McAuliffe was a gifted social science teacher who was dedicated to her students and to the teaching profession.

As a teacher, Christa McAuliffe was thrilled about the idea of teaching so many important lessons from space. She was the ultimate teacher," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "She not only engaged in this extraordinary venture to captivate the imagination of students, Christa wanted to elevate the teaching profession so students would aspire to teach."

“The Teacher in Space Project reminded Americans of the important role that teachers and education play in our country. We feel her pride in being an educator whenever we hear the phrase she made famous: ‘I touch the future. I teach.’

Christa McAuliffe was proud to be a member of NEA, and, as her colleagues, we continually share her mission of seeking new ways to help students succeed.  NEA honors Christa and the millions of teachers who inspire students every single day to work harder, dream bigger and shoot for the stars." 

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823,