2011 Scott Crossfield Aerospace Teacher of the Year
July 28, 2011
Shella Condino, the teacher who implemented the Presidio rocketry program, was named the 2011 A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Teacher of the Year, and accepted the award in Dayton Ohio.
Shella immigrated from the Phillipines with a bachelors degree in physics in 1993. She moved to Presidio, a small town in southwest Texas near Big Bend. The population is approximately 4,000 and it is the 3rd poorest town in Texas. She began teaching rocketry to ESL students who spoke very little English. And Shella didn’t speak Spanish. But they were able to communicate even though they couldn’t speak clearly to each other.
In 2007 Texas Tech’s T-STEM Center offered a summer rocketry camp for middle and high school students. Shella loaded her students into a bus, and they drove for 8 hours to get here. It was the first time out of the Big Bend area for most of the students, and most of them had only limited English language skills. However, they were enthusiastic learners at the end of the workshop, and people were impressed with their abilities. On the last day, her students noticed that many other students had thrown away their models, and they asked permission to collect rocket parts to use back in Presidio. Dr. John Chandler, a director of the T-STEM Center, was impressed with their passion and creativity, and he loaded a box with rocket parts for them to take back. In addition, he knew that he wanted to work with Shella’s program, so he and Fred Schneider with Tech’s Department of Industrial Engineering, became a mentor for the Presidio rocketry program.
Shella was nominated for the award by Milt Clary, Senior Department of Defense Federal Aviation Policy Analyst at Overlook System Technologies. He met Shella and some of her students in 2010 at the Team America Rocketry Challenge and was so impressed with the fact that students from such a small border town in Texas had worked so hard and accomplished so much, that he nominated Shella for the Scott Crossfield award.
Scott Crossfield was the first person to fly at twice the speed of sound, and he created and funded the Teacher of the Year award in 1986. Find out more about this remarkable man and his flying career at Wikipedia.