Thank You, Teachers!

Thank You, Teachers!

We’re giving thanks to the teachers who helped us reach for the stars at NASA. As a thank you, we are offering easy ideas to bring NASA science to your classroom as the school year draws to a close.

Discovery satellite in orbit around Earth

"Charles Sulc, my high school geometry teacher, taught me not to be afraid of difficult concepts."

Thomas Wagner, Discovery Program Scientist

"Ms Peggy Bien, my high school calculus teacher, taught me that math was fun, that one should learn to do everything manually before using a calculator, and, one day, asked me if I had received an application for a full ride to my choice of top Texas universities - due the NEXT DAY! This application was mistakenly not sent to me even though I qualified for it. I received the full ride, thanks to Ms Bien, who told me to beg my dad to mail it overnight even though it cost a fortune - a gamble my dad willingly took and it paid off!"

Mamta Patel Nagaraja, Deputy Program Scientist for Space Biology

Photo taken inside science lab with workings wearing lab gear and working on a satellite

"Dr. Belinski, my 9th grade physical science teacher, who opened my mind to the wonders and excitement of science."

Lori Glaze, NASA Planetary Science Division Directory

"Mr. Sherman, my junior high math teacher who saw math talent in me and helped me find confidence in my intellectual abilities for years to come. I wouldn't be here if you did not see the potential in me!"

Delia Santiago-Materese, Program Scientist for PSD

"Mr Boardman (Twitter: @AndrewBoardman), my superb Geography teacher, whose enthusiasm for understanding our world set me on the path to studying other worlds. Those lessons were long ago, but not forgotten."

Shoshana Weider, Program Scientist for PSD

"Mr. Nicholas Verbanic, my high school art teacher, who made me keep a daily sketchbook and pushed me to discover my own creative identity."

Jenny Mottar, Art Director for NASA Science

"Mrs. Nolte, my grade school librarian, who instilled in me from an early age it was cool to find solace in a book. Thank you for giving me permission to skip recess and hang out in the library. Because of her, I've found so much empowerment in literature but also know intimately the power in making knowledge accessible for all."

Yvonne Ivey, Project Manager for Transform to Open Science

Photo of a smiling man and woman holding NASA signs and insignia and an Earth poster with a red heart.

"Special thanks to Brian Campbell who planted a seed for science in my heart in 9th grade Earth and Space Science class. I've worked with him at NASA for over a decade. Now we're changing the world together, one seed at a time!"

Heather Hanson, NASA's Science Support Office

"Mr. Terry, my high school Earth Science teacher at the American School of The Hague, for encouraging my passion for the sciences, and Madame B for teaching me the quickest way to the brain is through the pen! To all the teachers at Nottingham Elementary in Arlington, VA, thank you for overcoming the challenges of these past two years and helping our kids through it all - in particular Ms. Zipfel and Ms. Hubbard for their total awesomeness and inspiration."

Laura Lorenzoni, Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program Scientist

"NASA Science thanks Principal Tonya K. Harris, Waxahachie HS, for your caring approach to innovative leadership and your perseverance during the pandemic. You inspire us!"

Kristen Erickson, Science Engagement & Partnerships Director

"Thank you "Mama" Crenshaw and Mrs. Ervin at Kennedy High School (Richmond, CA) for helping me form my science, academic, and social identities."

Jennifer Claudio, Intern for GeneLab & GeneLab for High Schools, NASA Ames Research Center

"HUGE thanks to Dr. Paul Ruscher and Dr. Kevin Kloesel. You taught, guided, mentored and—most of all—believed in me. And almost 30 years later we remain good friends."

Steve Graham, Deputy Manager, NASA's Science Support Office

Collage of photos of groups of people

"Sending special gratitude to our highschool Youth In Politics club sponsor, Ms. Gaela Peters. She had the fortitude to take a group of teenagers to Washington, D.C., to expose us to the various institutions of government, the cultural landmarks, and the history of the nation. Ever since then, I saw D.C. as a place I could go to change the world, and that dream became a reality when I started supporting NASA Headquarters in 2011. Thank you, Ms. Peters, for inspiring me!"

Sarah Hemmings, NASA International Space Apps Challenge, Earth Science Division

"Ms Marla Orenstein, Ms Julie Tozer and Ms Christina Heffern, all at Flora Singer Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, adapted and re-adapted during this pandemic and invested more love and energy than I have ever seen into my children and their physical, intellectual and mental well being. Under the leadership of the most awesome principal and superb leader, Mr Kyle Heatwole, my children have rebounded from the most jarring experience they have ever had. Thank you to all of the Flora Singer staff for keeping my children safe and loved!"

Mamta Patel Nagaraja, Deputy Program Scientist for Space Biology

Portrait photo of a man wearing a white shirt and dark suit jacket

"My passion for space exploration was nurtured by one of my elementary school teachers in the Greenfield Unified School District, Mrs. Storar. She provided the opportunity and exposure to witness science-in-action through streaming the attempted Mars Polar Lander landing, well before streaming was even a thing, and led annual field trips to JPL that she financed on her own. Her solar system knowledge matched her excitement for exploration, and I thank her for instilling that out-of-world attitude and desire in me."

Bradley Williams, Program Executive, Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate

Two photos side by side, on the left is a 6th grade girl with long blonde hair and glasses, on the right is the same person as an adult with long hair.

"M. Charles Cellier, my 5th/6th grade teacher in Switzerland, who did a remarkable job teaching everything to a mixed grade classroom - from spelling to grammar to creative writing to math to science to outdoor adventures to life! Truly a virtuoso educator. Also recognizing my sister-in-law, Samantha Chambers, an awesome early elementary educator for her persistence and flexibility through the last two and a half years."

Lin Chambers, Deputy Director of the Science Activation Program

"A huge thank you to Ms. Patricia Baker from the Fauquier County school system for being such an inspiration to her students. She is such a wonderful teacher and encourages them to be their best and dream big! Her projects and assignments are so creative and she is an incredible woman. Thank you for setting up my children and others for a great future!"

Tricia Talbert, Planetary Science Division

"Big call out to my undergraduate professors that took me under their wings and helped me discover my career path. Dr. Petersen (chemistry), Dr. Cumming (biology), Dr. Vesper (geology), and Dr. Littleton (astrononmy) all helped me get on the path that has led me to my current position at NASA. So thankful they took the time to show me the possibilities in careers and the different sciences."

Becky McCauley Rench, Planetary Science Division

"I have been fortunate to have incredible teachers throughout my education but shout-out to 3 special people: (1) Carl Bradley, my middle school orchestra conductor and piano teacher who taught me to love playing music (2) Dr. Allison Pacelli, who opened my eyes to the wonders of calculus at Brown Summer School (3) Mike Lemonick, who inspired me to become a science writer with the Princeton freshman seminar "Life on Mars! Or Maybe Not" -- a title that continues to resonate in my work today!"

Liz Landau, Senior Communications Specialist/Multimedia Producer

Photograph of woman sitting on a TV set

"Mrs. Sarah Ivie Jeter, my middle school math teacher, made me believe in myself and opened my eyes to the world of STEAM. Thanks to her inspiration and confidence in me, I now use my artistic talents to communicate the remarkable science at NASA - something I never thought was possible."

Rhiannon Roberts, Communications Producer for the Division of Biological and Physical Sciences

"My high school biology teacher, Dr. Raiford at Suncoast Community High School in Riviera Beach, FL really cultivated my love of science and directed it to the specific fields that have become the focus of my career!"

Lindsay Hays, Astrobiology Program Deputy Program Scientist

"Mrs. Butts, my 5th grade teacher, who instilled a lifelong love of learning in me, and helped me recognize the importance of discipline, dedication, and determination."

Michael Guarraia, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

"I want to say a big thank you to the teachers of AppleTree Southwest, but especially Mr. Kyler, who somehow figured out a way to wrangle pre-kindergarden students virtually and then get them all adjusted to in-person school! It was truly a heroic feat!"

Emily Sylak-Glassman, Program Manager, Applied Sciences, Earth Science Division (on detail)

Black and white photo of a teacher with glasses seated at a table next to a young girl with prosthetic arms.

"Thank you Mary Jane Fujimura and Jean Castleman. They both gave me the opportunity to be mainstreamed in education, when it wasn't done back then (mid-70's). They gave me a good start on my educational path and thanks to that, I went on to college and earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering."

Dana Bolles, NASA External IT Lead


"The teacher I would like to thank also happens to be my sister. Ms. Mia Furfaro teaches 2nd grade and is one of the most patient, caring, and thoughtful educators I have ever met. She instills a sense of curiosity in her students while also showing them what it means to be a kind human. Her students adore her, and I know she has motivated many young people through her years of teaching. I am thankful that there are teachers like Mia who have overcome challenges in this difficult career and have found ways to support students even when the teachers themselves are not getting the assistance they need. Thank you for all that you do to inspire the next generation of learners. You are making the future a brighter place."

Emily Furfaro, NASA Science Digital Manager

"I am grateful to Principle Larson, Tulip Grove Elementary School, for telling my parents to NOT speak English with me at home when I started kindergarden. It is because of her enlightened view that I remain bilingual in Bengali and English. (Research has since shown that biligualism does not slow language development in children.)"

Anita Dey, Lead, Webb Space Telescope Community Events

Portrait photo of a dark haired woman in a turquoise shirt with a pink background behind her

"Thank you to Mr. Eugene Dulac and Mr. Lynn Via, my spectacular agriculture teachers at DeLand Junior High and DeLand High School. Mr. Dulac, you introduced me to the idea of space agriculture and cultivated a love of plants and science in me. Mr. Via, you fertilized my dreams and enabled them to grow and thrive! Thank you both for all your support, and for making me believe that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I use you both as a model of how to inspire every day!"

Gioia Massa, Life Sciences Project Scientist, Kennedy Space Center

Photo of a woman with short dark hair wearing a Star Trek costume

"Thank you to Mrs. Alyda Daulenskiene, who convinced me that I have what it takes to be a scientist. Mrs. Daulenskiene was my high school biology teacher in Vilnius Lyceum, in Vilnius, Lithuania. I remember how one day, when the heat got turned off, she made me tea on the hot plate and gave me a stack of Genetics problems, and I never wanted to leave that classroom. I remember losing myself in the exceptionally inventive experiments she designed for our class, and, above all, her complete trust in my scientific curiosity and integrity. Well, all I could do next is to try to become the kind of scientist that Mrs. Daulenskiene would be proud of."

Egle Cekanaviciute, Research Scientist, Space Biosciences Division, NASA Ames Research Center

Thank you to Beulah Phelps who was my first and second grade teacher at Main Street Elementary School in East Aurora, NY. She inspired me from my very first day to do well, and she had the same effect on many of my classmates, many of which I am in close touch all these decades later.

Rennie Selkirk, Senior Support Scientist, Earth Science Division, NASA HQ

Alana Johnson_NASA HQ Comms.png

Huge THANKS to all of my teachers from the RE-1 school district in Julesburg, Colorado, for their devotion, encouragement, and support to a bunch of farm kids in a tiny rural town. I particularly want to thank (1) Mrs. Carla Tjaden, my English teacher and volleyball coach; (2) Mr. Brian Boehm, my teacher for Algebra, Geometry, and Biology, as well as my high school track & field coach; (3) Mr. Marvin Trennepohl, my Government, History, and Economics teacher, and head track & field coach; (4) Mrs. Dottie Woltemath, my Psychology teacher, theater director, and guidance counselor. They all instilled in me a passion to be curious about the world around me. Their belief in me and constant encouragement gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone, work hard, and always push myself to improve.

Alana Johnson, Senior Communications Specialist, Planetary Science Division