Challenger Center Announces Recipient of First June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award

Press Release From: Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Posted: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Image: Jackie Caudill’s Robotics Team on hand to congratulate her during award presentation Back Row: Robotics team Judge Alexander, Principal Paula Boggs, Central Office Representative Melissa Moore  Front: Jackie Caudill and Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky Director Tom Cravens

Challenger Center today announced that Jacqueline Caudill, a middle school teacher in Viper, KY is the 2017 June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award winner. Named in honor of Challenger Center Founding Chair June Scobee Rodgers, the award recognizes an outstanding educator who understands the importance of STEM education and demonstrates a passion for teaching STEM subjects.

“It’s an honor to be able to present Mrs. Caudill with the first June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator award and recognize her for her outstanding efforts,” said Challenger Center Vice President of Education Robert Piercey. “Jackie understands how critical STEM education is for today’s students. Even without teaching a traditional STEM subject, she demonstrates a commitment to integrating these topics into her own classroom and lessons as often as possible.”
Caudill, nominated by the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky in Hazard, has been a classroom teacher for 28 years and currently teaches sixth-eighth grade reading/ELA. Among her many accomplishments, Caudill worked with Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky to start an award-winning FIRST LEGO league team at her school. She also led a mentoring program that connects eighth grade students with community members in STEM careers. Caudill has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree as a reading specialist.
“Throughout 28 years of teaching I’ve seen a lot of programs come and go, but occasionally, one stands the test of time. Challenger Center is the real deal. It exposes today's students to the STEM skills they will need for their future careers,” said Caudill. “It is with humble honor, and in the spirit of preparing today's students for tomorrow, that I accept the June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award.”
Caudill will receive the recognition and a $2,500 prize during a presentation at Viper Elementary School. Cris Petro, a fourth-grade teacher from Bailly Elementary in Chesterton, IN, was named the 2017 runner-up and will receive a $1,000 prize. Petro was nominated by Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana.
“I’m truly inspired by Jackie and Cris and I’m thrilled we can recognize their hard work and dedication,” said Scobee Rodgers. “I send my heartfelt gratitude to all of the nominees for their efforts to spark a passion for learning within each student and their commitment to helping those students find success in their futures.”
Award nominations were made by any one of Challenger Center’s 43 Challenger Learning Centers around the world. Current full‐time teachers who had brought their classrooms to a Challenger Learning Center at least three times were eligible.
About Challenger Center

As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers provide more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs to engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. Learn more at Connect on Facebook @ChallengerCtr and Twitter @ChallengerCtr.
About June Scobee Rodgers

June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee, has  dedicated her time and energy to continuing the crew’s educational mission through Challenger Center. Along with a successful teaching career, June is the author of Silver Linings: My Life Before and After  Challenger 7, in which she returns to the very public tragedy of the Challenger explosion. In addition to  Silver Linings, June created the Star Challenger science adventure books for young readers to further  spark students’ interest in science and math. June speaks to large and small groups around the country,  challenging thousands of people through her motivational and contagious personality. June Scobee Rodgers holds a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, a Master’s from Chapman College, CA,  and a Bachelor’s from Charleston Southern University, S.C. She attended San Antonio Community College, TX, where she later received an Honorary Associate’s Degree. June is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Leicester, England.

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