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Teacher awarded for ‘universal’ enthusiasm


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Amy Lignor
Special to the Daily Record

Lynette Jordan (Amy Lignor Photo)

Lynette Jordan, a fourth grade teacher at Valley View Elementary, received a message recently that not only excited her as an educator, but also thrilled her on a personal level. The award is actually a step on a journey she’s been taking for a long time — a journey to see the “great beyond.”

The accolade is from the Space Foundation, an organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Lynette has been selected to be part of the Space Foundation’s International Teacher Liaison Program. These are elite educators who positively influence STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education on an international level, using space-related content to inspire the next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers and space pioneers — which is exactly what Jordan promotes in her classroom.

STEM education is a big part of her curriculum. Her own excitement for the subject brings about discussions and studies focused on the solar system. Also, students undertake projects related to the study of planetary bodies, perform gravity experiments and enjoy lessons that use relative distances, the speed of light and other outer space-related subjects to make math more fun.

“I love seeing my students’ eyes light up when we talk about outer space and everything that goes along with it,” Jordan said. Her exuberance for the subject keeps every day intriguing. She even invites guest teachers and space-associated individuals into her classroom to speak to the kids. One such guest is retired teacher Peggy Bohlin. Jordan refers to Bohlin as her “space mentor.”

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During one of her visits, Bohlin came in and made a solar oven with the kids, which is just one example of the lessons that allow her students to be creative and excited while they’re learning.

It was at the end of September 2019 when Jordan submitted her application to be a teacher liaison. “Even though I wasn’t really expecting anything,” she remembers, “Peggy recently told me to check my email to see if they’d responded. And — there it was. I was so thrilled, I did my ‘happy dance.’ It felt like I was one step closer to being an astronaut.”

Yes, in her youth, Jordan definitely thought about becoming an astronaut. From a young age, she’d always been highly interested in outer space. As a fifth-grader, her favorite book was “A Wrinkle in Time.” In middle school, she applied for acceptance into Space Camp in Houston. And on her many trips from New Mexico to Wyoming, she would pass by the U.S. Air Force Headquarters in Colorado Springs and dream of one day being part of the organization.

Just last year, she attended the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) at Space Center Houston. At the event, Jordan was able to work with educators from around the globe and share ideas about how to promote and teach space education in the classroom. This organization brings together agencies, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and NASA, and is a place to explore new technologies.

“Not only was it thrilling to be able to meet everyone,” Jordan said, “but we were given tours and I was actually able to walk into the command center. I wish everyone could do that.”

There was also a speaker at the event talking about NASA’s project involving the creation of a space station docking point. Information was given about how they would place it in orbit between Earth and Mars, so that one day, exploration of Mars could be enhanced. She was also able to view a replica of the International Space Station. “Even though the shuttle program disappeared and certain things dwindled, there’s still plenty going on right now that people are working toward,” Jordan said. “And being able to bring all of this back to my classroom and share it with my students was a true thrill for me.”

Roswell has a long history when it comes to the space program, including Robert H. Goddard’s work in the field of rocketry, which helped make landing on the moon and exploration of outer space possible. Add to that the large roles Walker Air Force Base and White Sands played in the fields of space and technology, and New Mexico was certainly a perfect place for someone with Jordan’s passion to “land.”

It was only five years ago that she decided this was the place to teach. “Although I was born in Wyoming, we moved here in 1988. I graduated from Goddard, but in my senior year, I did travel to Norway as an exchange student, which was also a life-changing event.” After living in Santa Fe for 15 years, and having a child, Jordan’s desire to teach brought her back to Roswell.

She has a lot of ideas for the future that would enable her to bring even more knowledge into the classroom. Jordan was informed about a teaching program in China, where teacher liaisons are brought into that country for the summer to teach space education. “I think it would be amazing to go to other countries and bring that space ‘fun’ to different cultures.”

But first, she will be in attendance at the Space Foundation’s 36th Annual Space Symposium, to be held from March 20 to April 2. There, she will attend the ceremony honoring her and the other new inductees to the teacher liaison program. A monumental step that may just lead Jordan to achieving her ultimate goal.

“My belief is that we’re down here to learn as much as we can,” she said. “I would love to get a knock on my door one day where they say teacher liaisons are needed to go up on the International Space Station. I would be thrilled to go.”

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