Christa Corrigan McAuliffe ’70: Teacher, Astronaut, Hero

Christa trainingHer expressive face with its engaging smile and sparkling eyes leaped at us from dozens of papers, magazines and television spots for many months. Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, class of 1970, was to be the First Teacher in Space, and the press knew a good thing when they saw it. Here was a 37-year-old teacher, wife and mother, as ordinary as your neighbor next door, and possessed of a natural exuberance and a remarkable gift for remaining herself in the face of interviews and publicity. Her genuine enthusiasm for taking on new challenges and the opportunities for learning they presented, was refreshing and inspiring. She had always wanted to fly, Christa told her audiences, and now she would have this extraordinary experience to share with the children of the world. – Beverly J. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, FSU, in The Echo, Vol. 19 No.1, Fall 1999, also published by IAFSA in Footprints in the Sands of Time.

It was 30 years ago on January 28, 1986 that the world watched as Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, Class of 1970, was to make history as the first teacher in space.

It was only five months before that she was chosen from over 11,000 applicants to be the first U.S. citizen to join our astronauts in space. She proposed to give lessons and keep a journal of the “ultimate field trip.” She credited her inspiration for journal writing to Framingham State professor A. Carolla Haglund.

Out of tragedy, came inspiration for students, teachers, and the world, as Challenger Centers were established and scholarships, awards, and conferences springing from the spirit and mission of Christa and her fellow crew members were created. Countless schools, parks, monuments, and other enduring memorials provide lasting reminders of their dedication and heroic endeavors.

Our Commemorative exhibit at Alumni House: Christa Corrigan McAuliffe ’70: Teacher, Astronaut, Hero is free and open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment. (Call 508-872-9770 if you are coming a distance in case we have a special event or function.) Items from our archives at Alumni House and on loan from the Special Archives at the Henry Whittemore Library make up the exhibit.