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South Texas’ Presidio High School, like West Virginia’s Big Creek High School, the school where famed “Rocket Boy” Homer Hickam, Jr. graduated, isn’t the kind of place where you’d expect tomorrow’s space pioneers to come from. Yet this modest school two miles from the Mexican border is building a reputation as one of the best model rocketry programs in the country thanks to an inspirational and dedicated teacher, Shella Condino.
On November 1, 2012 at the 27th annual Women in Aerospace (WIA) Awards, Condino was honored with the Aerospace Educator Award in recognition of her dedication to giving her students an aerospace education and a pathway to become first generation college graduates through rocketry.
When Condino arrived at Presidio to teach Physics, Chemistry and Scientific Research and Design, she encouraged her students to become involved in educational and engaging extracurricular activities. Condino started a summer enrichment program centered on model rocketry for English as a Second Language Students. Since the creation of that summer enrichment program, Presidio High School’s rocketry program has literally taken off.
Overcoming geographic, logistical, linguistic and financial obstacles, Condino’s vision and her student’s hard work have launched Presidio into the forefront of schools providing rocketry programs. Presidio began competing in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) in 2007 and has placed as high as 9th in the nation, taking home an 11th place finish at the 2012 national finals. Presidio’s success in TARC has given the school the opportunity to submit three research proposals to NASA for the competitive Student Launch Initiative Advanced Rocketry Program (SLI). The Presidio High School can also list launching rockets at Marshall Space Flight Center, being highlighted at the White House Science Fair by the President and a national feature story aired on CBS Evening News to its ever growing resume.
WIA's annual awards honor women who make outstanding contributions to the aerospace community and Condino is certainly a worthy recipient of this year’s award.
AIA Source: anne.ward[at]aia-aerospace.org