The Benefits of Becoming a Teacher Liaison

Written by: developer

by Carah Barbarick, Space Foundation Space Education Specialist. Before coming to work for the Space Foundation this year, Carah was one of our Teacher Liaisons. Now she heads the program.

Carah is pictured here in 2010, when she was a new Teacher Liaison, meeting NASA astronauts CAPT Michael McCulley, USN (Ret.) and Col. Michael Good, USAF (Ret.) at the 26th Space Symposium.

When I applied to become a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, I thought the main benefit was getting my students access to an amazing field trip. Little did I know that becoming a Teacher Liaison would change my teaching forever. 

My story began in 2005 when I decided to follow in the footsteps of an inspirational teacher. She demonstrated a unique teaching style, and as a Teacher Liaison, she had access to an exclusive field trip for her students to meet an astronaut. I wanted both. 

I applied two years in a row to the Teacher Liaison program, and was eventually selected and inducted with Flight 7-10. It was then that my eyes were opened to the wealth of opportunities the Space Foundation could provide through its Teacher Liaison program. Not only were my students given the chance to go on a field trip to meet an astronaut, but I was allowed to attend the world’s premier space event – the Space Symposium.

At the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium, I was exposed to the leading technologies in the space industry, to the breadth of people involved in accomplishing a space mission and to the goals of the industry. I would go back to my classroom bursting with new ideas and ways to inspire my students. Did they know that artists sketched technology’s simple and intricate details? Did they know they could be a truck driver and still be a part of getting a rocket into space? Did they know they could be the first humans on Mars?  

The next opportunity came in the form of a graduate level course for teachers. Again, I underestimated how inspired I would become by participating in a Space Foundation Space Across the Curriculum course. The class made me want to learn more and delve deeper into the science topics I taught. Through the course, I was provided with inexpensive hands-on lessons that I could apply in my classroom.

I realize now that those weren’t even the best parts of what I learned in Space Across the Curriculum and the Teacher Liaison program. I learned that teaching science did not have to be hard for students, nor did space have to be in my standards in order for me to incorporate it. I couldn’t wait to get back to my classroom to include nuggets of space in all my science units, from oceans to energy. 

Becoming a Teacher Liaison made me a better teacher, one who inspired her students to dream big and possibly some day name something in space after her. How will you improve as a teacher, and who will you inspire when you become a Teacher Liaison?  

Apply to become a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison by Dec. 4, 2015. See details here.

Barbarick spent 12 years in the classroom working with students in grades three through eight, and also served as coordinator of schoolwide science fairs, a Response to Intervention team member, educational coach and assessment coach. She was awarded the Air Force Association of the Pikes Peak Region Teacher of the Year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Phoenix.

This article is part of Space Watch: November 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 11).