Space Foundation Press Releases

Pinellas County Teacher Awarded Space Foundation Scholarship

Written by: developer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 17, 2012) – Donnika Jones, a teacher with Pinellas County Schools, has been awarded the 2012 Space Foundation Dr. Catherine Pedretty Space Scholarship for Teachers. The scholarship will pay expenses for Jones to travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer and participate in one of the Space Foundation’s Space Across the Curriculum courses.

The scholarship covers travel, meals, lodging and full tuition and fees for Jones to attend any one of the Space Foundation’s annual teacher professional development courses. These week-long courses are designed to help teachers use space themes in their classrooms to improve student performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as other subject areas.

Jones teaches fourth and fifth grade classes at the Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr., Elementary School Center for Mathematics and Engineering.

In her letter of recommendation, principal Mary Jane Dann wrote that Jones: “…has been an integral part of writing our unique engineering and science curriculum,” and “she is one of the best teachers I have ever observed.”

Jones’ classes include students with autism, and she is a National Board Certified teacher.

In her application Jones described the students at her school as “…65 percent economically disadvantaged.” Jones explained that her school is already using space themes to interest students in STEM subjects, including an annual fifth grade trip to Kennedy Space Center. “This trip is an opportunity of a lifetime for many of our students who may never have the opportunity to leave the county,” she wrote.

Jones plans to use the scholarship to attend the new Meteorology and Space Weather course at the Space Foundation Discovery Institute. The course will focus on hands-on classroom lessons and features a trip to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colo.

About Space Across the Curriculum
These intensive graduate-level courses for pre-k – 12 educators provide space-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content that is instantly transferable to the classroom. Although the underlying focus is on STEM, the courses are structured to adapt lessons to all grade levels and all curriculum areas. Participants do not need to be science or math teachers. Public, private and homeschool teachers from around the globe are welcome.

See the 2012 Space Across the Curriculum course schedule and registration at

Scholarship Honors Lifetime Learner
Funding for the Dr. Catherine Pedretty Space Scholarship for Teachers is provided by her daughter, Janet Stevens of Colorado Springs, Colo., who is the vice president — marketing and communications for the Space Foundation, and her son, Mark Pedretty of New Port Richey, Fla.

A lifetime learner, Dr. Catherine Frazer Partain Pedretty worked as a teacher and guidance counselor in Pinellas County Schools for 38 years and was director of guidance for Dunedin High School at the time of her retirement. Born in 1928 in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. Pedretty grew up in Tennessee. She excelled in the sciences and wanted to become a geologist, but, as was common during those times, she was steered away from a profession “not befitting a girl.” She majored in French and Spanish at the University of Tennessee, graduating with honors in 1949, the same year she married William L. Pedretty, an electrical engineer. She moved with her husband to North Carolina, Texas and then to Florida. While their four children were still young, Dr. Pedretty began working in a non-teaching job for Pinellas County Schools. She returned to school for her teaching certification, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Florida and a Ph.D. in education from Florida State University. As a guidance counselor, she was most proud of the numerous times she helped young women pursue careers in engineering and science and in the role she played in getting her students accepted into the nation’s military academies. Her husband William died in 1996, after 47 years of marriage. In 2004 she married James Gecoma, who survives her. Dr. Pedretty died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer.

About the Space Foundation
The foremost advocate for all sectors of the global space industry, the Space Foundation is developing the next generation of space professionals – and building the overall technological strength of the nation – through programs that stimulate students’ STEM interest and skills. A non-profit organization founded in 1983, the Space Foundation supports its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity,” through its education programs; space awareness programs, including Space Certification and the Space Technology Hall of Fame® industry events, including the National Space Symposium; research and analysis products, including The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity ; and government affairs activities; and programs for teachers and students.  Visit, follow the Space Foundation on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, and subscribe to Space Watch.