Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) will recognize Dr. Kathryn Sullivan with the distinguished George H.W. Bush Award during the organization’s Annual Conference taking place August 13–16 in Chattanooga. The award is presented to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to Challenger Center and to keeping the spirit of education as part of the NASA space program alive.
“I’m grateful to Challenger Center for this award and to be a part of their annual conference,” said Dr. Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and predication, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “When the Challenger tragedy occurred 26 years ago, I was honored to be part of the group of people who started Challenger Center. I strongly believe in the organization’s mission, vision and values, and I look forward to continue supporting Challenger Center as it engages and inspires students across the globe.”
Only awarded three times in the past, the George H.W. Bush Award was established by Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair of Challenger Center, in 1995. Previous recipients include President George H. W. and Mrs. Bush (1995), former NASA educator astronaut Barbara Morgan (2007), and former NASA astronaut William Readdy (2011).
“We’re thrilled to add Kathryn’s name to this elite group of individuals who have supported our mission.” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “Kathryn has demonstrated her passion for and dedication to education throughout her entire career. She is a role model for students around the globe, and we’re privileged to present her with our organization’s most distinguished award.”
In addition to being honored with the award, Dr. Sullivan will address conference attendees during Monday morning’s general session. She will share her thoughts on how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and Challenger Center can help grow our future workforce.
Challenger Center’s annual conference brings together representatives from the organization’s global network of 48 Challenger Learning Centers (CLC). This year’s conference, hosted by Challenger STEM Learning Center at UTC will include panel discussions, group workshops and general session programs covering topics to help further the Challenger Center mission.
Dr. Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for education, NASA, and Dr. George Nield, associate administrator for commercial space transportation, FAA, will be part of a special future of education and space flight panel. The conference will also include recognition of top performing CLCs.
This year, Challenger Center will introduce the newly establish Legacy Award. Presented by Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, this award recognizes individuals and organizations local to the conference location.
"I am tremendously excited to host this year’s Challenger Center conference in my hometown. It is with pride that I am able to honor distinguished citizens who have not only helped build the Challenger STEM Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but have also supported Challenger Center programs over the years,” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers. “Our Legacy Award winners will have the distinction of being the first to receive this recognition. They represent true champions of educational excellence and dedication to students."
Awardees were integral in the creation of the local CLC and supportive of Challenger Center as a whole. Representative of Chattanooga, this year’s Legacy Award winners include Jim Berry, CEO, Republic Parking System; Hardwick Caldwell; John and Zan Guerry; Clarence E. Harris Foundation, Inc.; Ellsworth and Sharon McKee of McKee Foods Corporation; Dr. Fred Obear, former chancellor, UTC; and SunTrust Bank. Tuskegee Airman Alexander “Jeff” Jefferson will be the keynote speaker during the award luncheon on Wednesday.
In additional to the George H.W. Bush Award and Legacy Awards, the Chairman’s Award will be presented to an individual from Challenger Center who has made extraordinary contributions, whether as a member of the Board of Directors, the leadership or staff, or of any of the Learning Centers around the world. Challenger Center Chairman, Dr. Scott Parazynski, will present this year’s recipient with the award during a special ceremony on Wednesday evening.
Various new technologies and delivery tools will be discussed during this year’s conference. The host CLC, Challenger STEM Learning Center at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is creating the V Mission – a Virtual Mission. The V Mission will deliver a new series of STEM programs using distance learning technologies. These programs will reach a wider geographical area and varying grade levels. Additionally, these capabilities will reduce the costs of travel for schools to participate in high quality STEM curriculum based programs.