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Space Foundation Teacher Liaison is AFA Teacher of the Year

08/04/2009

Space Foundation Teacher Liaison is AFA Teacher of the YearCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 4, 2009) -- It all started with an e-mail. Liz Dalzell doesn’t remember the details, or how the e-mail found its way to her, but it led her to enroll in her first Space Foundation Space Discovery Institute rocketry class in 2007. She liked it so much she enrolled in more of the classes, which led to a master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Space Studies and a new role as a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. Then she was nominated for the Air Force Association’s (Lance P. Sijan Chapter #125) State Teacher of the Year Award, which she won this year. She is just starting her third year as a sixth grade teacher at Horizon Middle School in Colorado Springs.

In nominating Dalzell for the AFA award, Falcon School District 49 Superintendent David Bond cited her Space Foundation role as a Teacher Liaison and her incorporation of space themes into her classroom.

He wrote: “Ms. Dalzell understands the need for our country to build upon students’ passions and the needs of our space industry. Her life science lessons always bring in an element of space science and education that can be connected to real life…Ms. Dalzell received a grant through the Air Force Association …that allowed her to purchase Estes rockets. Knowing that learning takes place when it is connected to real-life experiences, Ms. Dalzell secured a special guest speaker from Mission Control at Cape Canaveral to kick off the day of the rocket launches.”

Dalzell will use her Teacher of the Year award money to purchase Estes rockets and some reusable materials for her classroom.

“In the beginning, I thought space studies would broaden my horizons,” said Liz, reflecting on her initial enrollment in the Space Discovery Institute. “I loved the program and continued with it because everything I learned was relevant and could be applied to a lesson plan. The instructors were very approachable and supportive, both in the classroom and as resources after the classes ended,” she said.

Dalzell said, for the most part, her middle school students aren’t thinking of careers at this point. “That’s why I try to introduce them to new ideas and the skills they need for various careers. I want them to know there are many science careers they can achieve with a bachelor’s degree. They don’t have to become doctors to pursue their interest in science.

“I also tell my students the next astronaut is sitting in middle school somewhere now. They just love that!”
 

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