Claremore High School 2017 graduate Ashley Henry was one of 12 future teachers chosen to take part in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s STELLAR program.
Henry is currently a sophomore elementary education major at Oklahoma State University.
Henry said she switched from business to elementary education after her first year of school when she came back to Claremore for the summer and worked for the Zebra Stripes childcare program.
“I loved working with the kids,” Henry said. “I would come home and tell my mom every little thing about the day and she said, ‘why are you a business major?’”
“I really liked working with kids and I loved school,” Henry said, so she took her mothers advice and pursued a career she could find meaning in.
When the STELLAR program came open again, a former teacher encouraged Henry to apply.
“I have always been interested in space since I learned Stuart Roosa was from Claremore,” Henry said. “having that connection has always drawn me to space.”
Henry recalled a school performance about space when she was in second grade, land laughed as she remembered they having to change one of the songs because Pluto was reclassified as not a planet.
STELLAR is an acronym for STEM Teachers Experience Linking Learners to Aerospace Research.
The NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium (OKSG) sponsors the yearlong mentorship for 12 Oklahoma college students studying elementary, secondary, early childhood or special education, in their sophomore year or above.
The goal of the mentorship is to immerse future educators in hands-on, STEM activities that they can use in the classroom.
The mentorship includes a 10-day summer institute, VIP trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, STEM in Action Weekend, a Speedfest Weekend and more. The future teachers are also given curriculum, posters and group projects they can use in their classrooms, including DIY model rockets.
“It’s a great opportunity to branch out and learn new things that you can bring into a classroom that you can’t learn in a textbook,” Henry said. “Not only are you bettering yourself as a teacher, but you are also getting students to learn beyond the textbook.”