July 19, 1985
The Vice President. We're here today to announce the first private citizen passenger in the history of space flight. The President said last August that this passenger would be one of America's finest -- a teacher. Well, since then, as we've heard, NASA, with the help of the heads of our State school systems, has searched the Nation for a teacher with "the right stuff." Really, there are thousands, thousands of teachers with the right stuff. And they're committed to quality in education; to teaching their students the basics -- reading, writing, mathematics, science, literature, history -- to teaching the foundations of our cultural heritage; to teaching the values that guide us as Americans; and to teaching that important, but difficult to obtain, quality -- clarity of thought.
We're honoring all those teachers of merit today, and we're doing something else because the finalists here with me and the more than a hundred semifinalists will all in the months ahead serve, as Jim has said, as a link between NASA and the Nation's school system. These teachers have all received special NASA training to pass on to other teachers and to their students. And together they and NASA will be a part of an exciting partnership for quality in education.
So, let me tell you now who our teacher in space will be. And let me say I thought I was a world traveler, but this tops anything I've tried. And first, the backup teacher, who will make the flight if the winner can't: Barbara Morgan of the McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho. Barbara has been a teacher for 11 years. She first taught on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. She currently teaches second grade. Congratulations. And we have a little thing for you.
And the winner, the teacher who will be going into space: Christa McAuliffe. Where is -- is that you? [Laughter] Christa teaches in Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire. She teaches high school social studies. She's been teaching for 12 years. She plans to keep a journal of her experiences in space. She said that -- and here's the quote -- "Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journies [journals], I as a space traveler would do the same." Well, I'm personally looking forward to reading that journal some day.
And by the way, Christa, while you're in the program, Concord High obviously will need substitute teachers to fill in. And it's only right that we provide -- [laughter] -- one of these substitutes. So, the first class you miss, your substitute will be my dear friend and the President's, Bill Bennett, the Secretary of Education.
So, congratulations to all of you. Good luck, Christa, and God bless all of you. Thank you very much for coming. And you, too, get one of these.
Ms. McAuliffe. It's not often that a teacher is at a loss for words. I know my students wouldn't think so. I've made nine wonderful friends over the last 2 weeks. And when that shuttle goes, there might be one body, but there's going to be 10 souls that I'm taking with me.
Note: The Vice President spoke to the 10 project finalists at 1:18 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. He was introduced by James M. Beggs, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The winner and backup teacher were presented with small statues on behalf of NASA and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The President, who was in Bethesda Naval Hospital recovering from surgery, was unable to attend the event.