New Guilford County Elementary School Hopes to Inspire Future Scientists
An elementary school named after astronaut and physicist Ronald McNair opened in Guilford County last week. A special ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday for the new school in Brown Summit.
More than a dozen schools across the country are named in honor of astronaut and physicist Dr. Ronald McNair. McNair was one of seven crew members killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986.
The new McNair Elementary school in Brown Summit serves around 450 students in grades K-5. Nine-year old Isaac Walker says he wants to follow in his hero’s footsteps.
“He inspires me because as a young black male he was very intelligent and I would like to be like him one day,” says Walker.
McNair had strong ties to the Tar Heel state. He received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro. McNair’s brother Eric attended the ribbon cutting for the new elementary school. He says Ron never missed an opportunity to talk with young people about his passion for science, technology, engineering and math.
“It’s very special. There are so many young people who have the potential of becoming Ron McNairs and astronauts, or educators or whatever they want to be and the fact that it is getting started early is really special,” says Eric McNair.
The more than 88,000 square foot school is adorned with bright blue, yellow, green and orange paintings and furniture. A small space shuttle inside a glass case greets visitors in the school’s lobby.
The school has 36 classrooms loaded with technology. First grade teacher Tressa DiGiorgio says the new tools are a big hit with her students.
“We have all kinds of things, iPods, iPads, we have Netbooks in our classroom. What I’m most amazed by our white boards are smart boards. We can project something from the computer onto the white board and with the Epson pen we can change things, spell words and it’s absolutely incredible,” says DiGiorgio.
Students at McNair Elementary will also have a chance to extend their learning beyond the classroom. This spring, they will have a chance to talk with astronauts aboard the International Space Station through a NASA program.
Shirley Stipe-Zendle, a student services administrator for Guilford County Schools says, “We are going to have direct contact with the International Space Station using amateur radio equipment. Right here at McNair Elementary, we are going to invite 250 children from other schools in Guilford County and the children are going to get to ask questions to astronauts in live time while the astronauts are over us on the International Space station. “
Stipe-Zendle added, “RF Micro Devices is donating permanent amateur radio equipment to the school, so this will be the first Guilford County School to have its own amateur radio station.”
George Boschini, the principle at McNair Elementary says he and his staff are excited about following McNair’s example of striving beyond what you can see.
“We look forward to embracing what Ronald McNair represented with his life and accomplishments and that really is to dream and to see opportunities and potential, not barriers and that is what we want children to take away from their time here,” says Boschini.
Volunteers will begin installing the amateur radio equipment within the next two weeks. Students at McNair Elementary will make contact with astronauts on the International Space Station in late April or early May.
Also during the ribbon cutting at McNair Elementary Wednesday, the schools media center was dedicated to retired Guilford County educator Dr. Julius Fulmore.
Fulmore provided 36 years of service to Greensboro City Schools starting as a sixth grade teacher in 1954. He says he plans on returning to McNair this year to read to students.
“Reading is a motivator. If you get kids who are excited about learning to read, then they can master many of the other subjects and they have to have it to excel at it to excel at the upper level,” says Fulmore.
Several space themed books were also donated to the school during the event.