Astronaut-Teacher Rachel Manzer Discusses Why She Applied for NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program
Why did I apply?
Every person has a defining time in their life. For me, it was when I was a student at Barkhamsted Elementary School in Barkhamsted, CT. The entire school was gathered into the gymnasium/cafeteria to watch the first shuttle launch. You can just imagine what it was like with about 250 students gathered around one 26” television screen. As NASA started the final count down, so did all the students in the gymnasium. Shouts of joy echoed across the room as the shuttle lifted off the launch pad. From that day I knew I wanted to fly in space. As a child, I read every possible book I could get about space and like many children wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.
It was that love for learning, that in high school I began wondering if I could combine my love of learning with my love of space. So I decided to go to college and become a teacher. I went to Central Connecticut State University and became a teacher in Connecticut. Throughout my years teaching I was always very active in exciting my students, teachers, and the community about the exploration of space.
When NASA announced they were looking for Educator Astronauts, I knew this was the perfect match for me and applied. I came close in the application process but was not one of the final three selected. Teachers who were finalists became part of NASA’s Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers. This was an amazing opportunity to work with Master Teachers from across the United States. So when the announcement was made from the commercial sector to fly teachers in space, I knew I had to try. In 2-4 years when I make this historic flight, I will be able to share it with teachers and students across the state of Connecticut and the nation.