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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Science Teacher Makes an Impact in Space

Teachers can make an impact in the classroom and even in the community, but have you ever met a teacher that made an impact in space?

Patricia Londono, a Science Teacher at Asa Low Intermediate School, was the driving force that brought the NASA Downlink “Teaching from Space” event to her campus and Mansfield ISD in January 2012.

The monumental event allowed students to have a live Q & A with the astronauts on the International Space Station, and until this year, there was only one event of its kind held in the DFW area.

When Londono’s first proposal to NASA was rejected in early 2010, she refused to take “no” for an answer.  She contacted NASA for input, tweaked the proposal and resubmitted it the following school year. Her persistence paid off, and in July of 2011, Londono received word that Asa Low Intermediate School had been awarded the downlink.

 “I remember when the first proposal was turned down, she immediately began working on improvements for the next draft,” said Principal Jason Short. “Instead of hanging her head, she chose to persevere, especially because she knew the program would be great for the kids.”

Upon receiving the green light from NASA, Londono pulled a team together and got the ball rolling on plans for the event. Over several weeks, Londono helped coordinate over 100 space-related lessons, projects, webcasts and a Space Night event that featured genuine moon rocks and a NASA space suit. The excitement surrounding the event spread districtwide when the Mansfield ISD School Board approved a resolution to ceremonially rename the campus “NASA Low Intermediate School” for the month of January.

 “I started getting feedback from other campuses and people out in the community and I began to see what kind of impact this program was making,” said Short.

After months of planning and anticipation, the event culminated on January 31, when Mission Commander Dan Burbank spoke the words, “We’ve got you loud and clear, welcome aboard the International Space Station,” upon establishing a connection through the satellite feed. 

“It really seemed surreal that day that it was actually occurring,” said Londono. “It had taken so long to get to that point and so much work and so many ups and downs. It was amazing to finally get there.”

The Q&A session was viewed live by thousands of MISD students and many others throughout the community. In event was covered by several local news stations, and was also highlighted on CNN.   

The experience was definitely a teaching dream come true for Londono, but after all is said and done, the students remain the driving force behind all of her hard work.

“They [the students] probably won’t remember my name but they’ll remember they got to talk to the astronauts and that’s what is important,” said Londono.

On behalf of the MISD Administration, congratulations to Patricia Londono, a very deserving winner of the Impact Award!

[Watch this video inside the MISD network on the Video Portal.]

The Impact Award was established to recognize individual staff members, departments, campuses or other employee groups that have promoted teamwork and unity by initiating a program or event that made a positive impact within Mansfield ISD and the community. Impact Award winners may be nominated by staff, students or community members.

Winners are selected each month throughout the school year. Staff members who receive The Impact Award are eligible for other district honors.

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