Blogs  |  11.30.2015

A Message from June Scobee Rodgers

Lisa Vernal, VP, Communications & Center Relations

Dear Friends of Challenger Center,

After the Challenger Shuttle accident in 1986, I was determined to make sure the world remembered how our loved ones lived and what they were passionate about, not how they were lost. I wanted the Teacher in Space mission to live on through our students and teachers. I wanted the curiosity to build and for that excitement about space to continue. I wanted students to be able to discover the joy of science and math and explore the world around them.

Challenger Family Members

Challenger Center Founding Family Members

After the accident, then Vice President George Bush and Senator John Glenn gathered with the families in the crew quarters of Kennedy Space Center. Vice President Bush slipped us his phone number and said, “Call if we can help.” Little did Vice President Bush or Senator Glenn know how much of a role they would play in helping to continue the Challenger crew’s mission.

Sitting around my dining room table and working alongside artist Bob McCall and astronauts Kathy Sullivan and Richard Garriott, we put our ideas on paper. We sketched a concept that would encourage students’ creativity and teach vital life skills like teamwork and critical thinking. We used the look and feel of true space exploration backdrops as our inspiration. While not quite sure of the path to get there, we believed in what we were doing and knew we were about to embark on something magnificent.

Our initial plan was to open just one Challenger Learning Center, but it was the Vice President who encouraged us to take the effort nationally. He said, “Believe me, they’ll listen if you paint a vision for them of where you want this to go and what you want it to be. All you need are your teaching skills.” Vice President Bush was right. You listened and rallied. Together we created something bold, beautiful, and powerful.

Nearly 30 years later, thanks to you, we have more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the world. They have served more than 4.4 million students, many of which were inspired by their experience and continued on to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Our donors, partners, and supporters have been with us every step of the way in realizing this vision. You have kept us innovating and inspiring for nearly three decades. Your gifts have allowed us to expand and reach more students and to create bold education programs that helped lead the STEM revolution. Your kind words of encouragement are what pushed us when the times were tough and lifted our spirits when difficulties arose. Challenger Center’s success is not only a result of the work put in by the families and staff; it is a result of your commitment to STEM education, your financial support, and your June Scobee Rodgersdedication to the bold adventure that continues the Challenger mission – inspiring today’s students to seek careers in STEM fields and meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce.

After all, we know that without risk there’s no discovery, there’s no new knowledge, there’s no bold adventure. The greatest risk is to take no risk. So thank you for taking a risk and believing in us!

As we prepare for 2016, our 30th year, please help us celebrate this milestone and continue to strengthen our crew’s legacy with a gift today. Your support will impact our future and help spark the imaginations of students around the world.

Ad Astra and with oh so much love,

June Signature
June Scobee Rodgers