Was it the chance to work with the best teachers from around the country and all over the world?
Was it pushing myself in leadership training and learning to survive a helicopter crash in water?
Was it learning to build ablative shielding and a lunar lander...for an egg?
Maybe it was training in the multi-axis trainer and the 1/6 gravity chair...
or preparing for shuttle and lunar base missions...
or meeting NASA legends Homer Hickam and Ed Buckbee?
Actually, it was this.
I was on Team Destiny, comprised of eleven other State Teachers of the Year, a professor from Greece, and a principal from Australia. We shared all the experiences depicted in these pictures and much, much more. We breathed stardust for a week and were reminded of just what can happen when human beings push the edge of the envelope to create something new to explore the truly unknown.
And what has all that to do with a Latin teacher? In the first century B.C., Cicero wrote,
Ex quo omnia mihi contemplanti praeclara cetera et mirabilia videbantur. Erant autem eae stellae, quas numquam ex hoc loco vidimus, et eae magnitudines omnium, quas esse numquam suspicati sumus. (De Re Publica 6.16)
"As I gazed at them from this point, all the other heavenly bodies seemed brilliant and amazing. And there were stars that we have never seen from earth, and the sheer numbers of them all were such as we have never imagined."
What the space race of the mid-twentieth century achieved and what NASA and space agencies around the world are attempting today is simply the next step in the shared journey of discovery, and because this is the definition of education, it has everything to do with me, for I am a teacher.