Greene County School System was excited and honored to have a piece of history in the area. National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) Executive Director, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space, spoke to students about the importance of STEM education and his experience as an Astronaut with NASA. Dr. Harris visited with Greene County High School 9th graders and Robert Brown Middle School 4th graders on Thursday, November 3, 2022.
Dr. Harris said that he was 13 years old when the first astronauts walked on the moon. “I made up my mind then that I wanted to walk in space one day and I never gave up on that dream.” When asked by students how did he prepare to be an astronaut, Dr. Harris said that it is necessary to focus on the STEM courses – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. He emphasized that scholars must go to college and earn at least a Master’s Degree. “Growing up my family physician was a great influence on me, so from college I went to medical school focusing on internal medicine, then I applied to NASA,” he explained. He shared that part of his NASA training certified him as a jet pilot and a scuba diver.
Greene County High School and Robert Brown Middle School are two sites for the Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA) project. ARLA services students in grades 6-9. The Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA), powered by NMSI, offers remote co-teaching, math support, and science coaching with ARLA project teachers housed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Williams stated that the overall goal of ARLA is to support hiring and retaining fully certified math and science teachers and provide long term solutions to fill those gaps and connect more students to potential careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.