Space Center Houston Honors Distinguished Educator

HOUSTON, Feb. 16, 2016 – Space Center Houston honored an outstanding space science educator with the prestigious Cherri Brinley Space Science Educator Award for her outstanding achievements in space science education.

Alan Bean and Daniel Newmyer

Award Winner

SEEC Keynote

SEEC vendor booths

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The award was presented to Leesa Hubbard, a certified special education teacher from Memphis, Tennessee, during the 22nd Space Exploration Educators Conference. More than 400 educators participated in the interactive workshops led by scientists, engineers and astronauts and took home engaging classroom techniques for all grade levels.

“Leesa is a remarkable educator and she continues to empower teachers and students with hands-on space science educational programs,” said Daniel Newmyer, director of education for the nonprofit. “She is a proven leader, dedicated to bringing interactive science-based curriculum to students that inspire them to think about future career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Hubbard, a teacher at Southside Middle School in Lebanon, has dedicated her career to science education and is a long-time advocate for expanding science education in the classroom. Her extensive career includes serving as an educator-in-residence for Sally Ride Science. This program provides teachers professional development and engaging STEM educational programs for students. She was an Albert Einstein Distinguished Education Fellow in the Office of Education for NASA Headquarters and participated in NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program, which gives kindergarten through 12th grade educators real-world training to carry out tasks that mission specialist astronauts are qualified to perform.

She is a participating founder and a lead organizer of the Tennessee Space Week that is designed to increase students and teachers’ interest in STEM. She has taught space science, inclusion classes, started an accredited astronomy class at high schools within her county, sponsored school space clubs and organized immersive school field trips at U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Among her accomplishments, Hubbard is a NASA Messenger Educator Fellow, a NASA Galileo Educator Network Fellow, a teacher liaison for the U.S. Space Foundation and a four-time winner of the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium.

The three-day conference brought educators from across the country who teach kindergarten through 12th grades. During the conference, attendees received ready-to-implement classroom ideas and participated in experiments and engaging workshops about science, technology, engineering and math. Attendees visited with exhibitors and received the latest tools and resources on NASA programs.

The event featured keynote sessions with astronauts, leaders in aerospace and science educators. The renowned speakers included astronauts Alan Bean, Michael Forman and Kjell N. Lingren; scientist Dr. John Horack; astrophysicist Jeffery Goldstein; and the 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Pepples.

Attendees boarded unprecedented behind-the-scenes tours of the astronaut training facilities at NASA Johnson Space Center and learned about the technology and research that is furthering NASA’s current and future deep space missions.

The award is named for Cherri Brinley, a Houston-area educator and space enthusiast who shared her passion for space science with students and fellow educators. She died of cancer in 2008. Award recipients are leaders in education and responsible for helping to shape the future of students with careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Dedicated to empowering educators with a multitude of cross-curriculum ideas and activities in space and science, SEEC provides educators with continuing education workshops and networking opportunities. The next Space Exploration Educators Conference will be Feb. 9-11, 2017. For more information about Space Center Houston educational programs, visit

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit space museum with an extensive science education program. The cornerstone of its science education mission is Space Center Houston, which USA Today called “The Big Draw” in the greater Houston area with nearly 1 million visitors annually and a $73 million annual economic impact on the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center.  The center draws more than 100,000 teachers and students annually from around the world. Visit

SOURCE: Manned Space Flight Education Foundation

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