ALTON — Jessica Foersterling, fifth-grade teacher at St. Mary’s School, has been selected as one of Challenger Learning Centers Inspiring Teachers.
She was nominated by a fellow teacher as someone who inspires her students, boys and girls alike, to pursue a lifelong engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
On Jan. 28, which marks the 30th anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its crew, a ceremony at the Challenger Learning Center in St. Louis, hosted by Boeing, will honor Foersterling, along with other local teachers who have continued the Challenger legacy of inspiring students.
St. Mary’s fifth-grade students have spent the last three years traveling to the Challenger Center to take a simulated trip into outer space. Before their visit, the students study astronauts’ roles, which include STEM activities, and all are given a specific role to play on the shuttle.
Foersterling is an exceptional teacher and immerses her students in engaging activities such as this throughout the year. Never content to just kick back and teach from the book, Jessica brings creativity and excitement to her classroom in many ways.
Another example of her “outside the box” activities takes place during the Iditarod dog race in Alaska; Foersterling teaches her students about this grueling race, and each student chooses a musher and follows him or her throughout the event. During this time she often brings in Gene Holt, a local man who has competed in the Iditarod. Holt puts on an assembly for all the elementary students. He explains the sport, the race, and shows his dogs and sled. Holt keeps Siberian huskies, which he still mushes for fun, pulling a wheeled sled. These types of learning activities help explain why Jessica is so loved by her students and their parents.