Golden Valley teacher wins achievement award

Tanya Wright recently got an unexpected phone call from Virginia.

Lisa Bacon, membership activities liaison-education of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation, told Wright that she is one of seven winners of the 2003 AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Awards.

Wright teaches a sixth-grade class at Black Mountain Elementary School, where she is in her fifth year of instructing.

"A lot of the things Tanya does in the classroom are innovative," Bacon said.

"She got a grant from us and one of the criteria we look at for the awards is how well do you use AIAA resources.

"She seems to always be going out and look for more resources to bring science into the classroom and get the kids excited."

Sara Ewing, a fourth-grade teacher at Black Mountain and winner of a 2001 AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award, nominated Wright.

"I sent the foundation a summary of projects I've done and grants received," Wright said.

"The award is for an accumulation of what I've done the last five years."

Wright started the Panthers Advancing in Laboratory Science (PALS) Club four years ago.

Pupils involved study geology along with physical and life sciences.

Wright coordinated a school wide water education festival with help from North Star Steel three years ago.

"We did it during Earth Day," Wright said.

"Students learned how we get water, how it's treated and how it gets polluted."

The AIAA partnered with the International Council of Aeronautical Sciences and adopted a theme around the Wright Brothers, who made the first manned flight on Dec.

17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

for this year.

Award winners and one guest receive an expenses-paid trip to the AIAA/ICAS International Air and Space Symposium and Exposition: The Next 100 Years.

It will be held July 14-17 in Dayton, Ohio and includes an awards banquet July 15.

Winners will receive apple awards (apples mounted on marble bases) at the banquet, Bacon said.

"Our winners will see a lot of things the Wright brothers did, visit their home, and meet historians and pioneers of space travel," Bacon said.

The AIAA has given its educator awards every other year since 1997.

One goes to a teacher in each of seven regions of the country.

Wright is the winner for the western region that includes Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah.

Black Mountain becomes the first school to have back-to-back award winners.

"Having been to the school once before I am aware of some of the challenges they face," Bacon said.

"I think it's remarkable that teachers like Tanya and Sara are doing so much with their resources."