Teacher headed to Space Academy

KELLEYS ISLAND A Kelleys Island teacher will soon trade a lesson plan for a space suit.
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

KELLEYS ISLAND

A Kelleys Island teacher will soon trade a lesson plan for a space suit.

Amy Krajnak, 30, has received a scholarship to attend Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., this month.

"It's an extravagant honor," Krajnak said.

Krajnak had dreams of becoming an astronaut since she was in elementary school, but her aspirations shifted to another profession.

"When I was younger I wanted to. Now I want to learn as much as I can and pass it on to my students," Krajnak said. "My place is as a teacher, and I hope to possibly teach future astronauts."

Kelleys Island Superintendent Phil Thiede has seen Krajnak's hard work in the classroom for five years and said she's earned the honor.

"I'm not surprised. She really puts a lot of time and energy into her classroom," Thiede said. "She's a real go-getter."

Krajnak won the scholarship after writing a 500-word essay, detailing how she implements real world examples into her curriculum, which is the main focus of the program.

Throughout the five-day program, Krajnak will participate in a variety of activities, including 50 hours of classroom, laboratory and field training.

"I really don't know all that's in store. I guess I'm just excited to see what it is and all that we're going to be doing. I'm hoping it's challenging, but I also hope I'm not staying up at midnight studying. I'd like to have some fun," said Krajnak with a laugh.

Not all the activities will include classroom work.

Educators will engage in numerous astronaut training exercises, including a high performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training and a state-of-the-art flight dynamics program.

Krajnak, who teaches math, science and technology to grades seven through 12, plans to use what she learns to inspire her students.

"What I always do is look for connections. Going there will let me get some more concrete examples of how science is used," Krajnak said. "Today's generation of students need to know why it's important to use various content."

Krajnak hopes to implement a unit on rockets and geology during her classes in the fall.

The trip will also serve as a chance to collaborate and communicate with other teachers to get ideas for classroom projects, Krajnak said.

Krajnak will leave for Space Academy on Friday. It is not the first time she's worked within the walls of NASA.

During the summers of 2003 and 2004, Krajnak worked in the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland developing a curriculum for her students.

Krajnak is one of 265 teachers, selected worldwide for the program.