When I think back on my third grade teacher I remember a smile always on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Even as third graders we knew that she loved being a teacher and loved being there with us. She was kind and sweet and excited about teaching. That may have been why she was over the moon when NASA announced that they’d be sending a school teacher into space where she would be teaching lessons live the space shuttle. It was a big deal and all of us kids were pretty excited, but no one was more excited than our teacher.
She arranged to have a TV set up in our classroom so that we could watch the launch live as it happened. So we could watch history happen. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my classroom right next to my teacher as the countdown begun.
A few moments later the Challenger exploded right in front of our third grade eyes. I looked at my teacher who sat starring at the TV. The color was gone from her face and she looked over at us, her class. No one knew what to say.
At that moment a piece of my childhood innocence disappeared. I would never be able to watch a shuttle launch, or even a regular plane take off, without holding my breath. The image of that shuttle exploding in front of me would forever be a picture I would have embedded into my memory.