CHRISTA MCAULIFFE Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Sharon Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to fly in space. Selected from among   
more than 11,000 applicants from the education profession for entrance into the     
astronaut ranks, McAuliffe had been born on September 2, 1948, the oldest child     
of Edward and Grace Corrigan. Her father was at that time completing his           
sophomore year at Boston College, but not long thereafter he took a job as an       
assistant comptroller in a Boston department store and the family moved to the     
Boston suburb of Framingham. As a youth she registered excitement over the         
Apollo moon landing program, and wrote years later on her astronaut application     
form that "I watched the Space Age being born and I would like to participate."     
McAuliffe attended Framingham State College in her hometown, graduating in 1970.   
A few weeks later she married her longstanding boyfriend, Steven McAuliffe, and     
they moved to the Washington, DC, metropolitan area so Steven could attend         
Georgetown Law School. She took a job teaching in the secondary schools,           
specializing in American history and social studies. They stayed in the             
Washington area for the next eight years, she teaching and completing an M.A.       
from Bowie State University, in Maryland. They moved to Concord, New Hampshire,     
in 1978 when Steven accepted a job as an assistant to the state attorney general.   
Christa took a teaching post at Concord High School in 1982, and in 1984 learned   
about NASA's efforts to locate an educator to fly on the Shuttle. The intent was   
to find a gifted teacher who could communicate with students from space.           
NASA selected McAuliffe for this position in the summer of 1984 and in the fall     
she took a year-long leave of absence from teaching, during which time NASA         
would pay her salary, and trained for an early 1986 Shuttle mission. She had an     
immediate rapport with the media, and the teacher in space program received         
tremendous popular attention as a result. It is in part because of the             
excitement over McAuliffe's presence on the Challenger that the accident had       
such a significant impact on the nation.                                           
Christa attended Framingham High School and Marian High School in Framingham.       
She lived in the Saxonville section of Framingham and often visited the             
Saxonville branch of the Framingham Public Library. The branch was re-named the     
Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Library in her honor. Christa's mother, Grace           
Corrigan, still lives in Saxonville and gives presentations about Christa and       
participates in special observances at Framingham State College, their alma         
mater. There are several books about Christa and the Challenger disaster,           
including Mrs. Corrigan's Journal for Christa Buy from