A local teacher got an out of this world honor!
It's all part of the embedded teacher program at Carthage College. Lisa Werner, a teacher in Dousman, was one of only four teachers in the country selected for a zero-gravity flight.
Werner is a band teacher at St. Bruno parish School — but she also has a passion for science. She points to a school billboard with her picture and explains, "In February I got to go down to Johnson Space Center. "
Werner is one of only four teachers in the country selected for a zero-gravity flight. She was the only music teacher selected.
Her reaction when she found out?
"I couldn't believe it. I texted my husband, my principal and everybody else I knew. I didn't expect that a band teacher would be able to go!" she said, laughing.
Werner took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 8. Her mission was named SOSITA, the acronym for Sounds of Space in the Air.
"We had a naming contest for the name of the mission," Werner says. "Every NASA contest has a name. You've got the Apollo, the Gemini, the Mercury and things like that."
The entire school has done activities associated with the launch. A school contest helped chose the winning patch design.
"When I fly, I'm going to put that on my arm, on my flight suit, and I'll have a piece of the school with me," Werner says. The symbol adorned the backpack on her flight.
"They got to make their own mission patches. I'm actually going to fly with this, so their artwork will have flown in zero gravity," Werner says.
Students also worked on the science projects that traveled with Werner.
Principal Mary MacDonald is proud of Mrs. Werner and the students involved.
"In this case the big kids went into the classrooms of the little kids and demonstrated and explained their experiments," she says.
The flight gives teachers a chance to contribute to microgravity research and NASA spaceflight technology. Students showed off some of their experiments, which were quite unique — from seeing the effect of sound waves on dancing cake sprinkles and foam beads, to documenting how percussion playing and foam dice react to zero gravity.
Werner shared videos of her experiments as she floated around in zero gravity for 11 minutes. It was a celestial experience for a courageous and creative teacher.
"We are very proud of Lisa, who I might add often comes with interesting projects. This is not the only one Lisa has," Principal MacDonald says.
Werner says she has big goals.
"Show that music is important and has a place at the table in space exploration and gravity experiments," Werner says. "It proves it's worth to those who may not have experienced music's worth. Being a mom, I wanted to show my girls you can do anything."
And Lisa Werner is teaching us all a lesson about conquering self-doubt and reaching for the stars.
"Throughout this whole process I was like, 'I'm the band director. I love science but I'm not super strong at physics. I haven't had a physics class since 2000. So just to look at it and say, 'yeah, I can do that, I earned that spot!'"
She says her biggest lesson was a simple one.
"A lot of the insecurity we have as people comes from inside our own heads."
And facing that insecurity means mission accomplished.