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Challenger Director Honored with National Award

Fri Sep 3 2010

Kathleen Frank, assistant director, e-Missions™, of the Challenger Learning Center, has been honored with a prestigious award from the national Challenger organization.

At the annual meeting of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, the organization that oversees the 48 Challenger Learning Centers throughout the world, Frank was honored with the Guiding Star Award. The honor is bestowed on someone who offers guidance and support to emerging Challenger Learning Centers. It also recognizes the dedication, direction and positive programming that the Wheeling Jesuit site contributes to the Challenger network.

Frank, who has worked at Challenger for eight years, was nominated for the award by Tasmyn Scarl Front of the Challenger Learning Center in St. Louis. In her nomination Front noted that Frank has worked diligently to help the St. Louis facility grow.

"Kathleen continues to be instrumental in helping the Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis get connected to key individuals and organizations to help increase awareness of and about our distance learning programs," Front wrote. "She has sent e-mails to her contacts, offered to set up conference calls, and has given us tips and advice on what to offer groups to maximize the potential for our distance learning programs. Because of Kathleen's willingness to help us, we have increased our distance learning program reservation numbers and made connections that will allow our program numbers to continue to grow."

Front added that Frank for several years has included the St. Louis center in Wheeling e-Mission workshops held as part of an annual St. Louis technology conference to allow the St. Louis center to promote its own on-site missions.

"Kathleen's willingness to work in collaboration and help us to be successful with our distance learning programs demonstrates a spirit of cooperation and support that serves as a model for the Challenger Learning Center network," Front said.

Jackie Shia, director of the Wheeling Challenger facility, echoed Front's sentiments.

"Kathleen's award brings a great light to our center within the Challenger network," Shia said. "This award was given by another Challenger Learning Center, showing the commitment of our two sites in helping each other and giving Kathleen the recognition she deserves for going beyond the call of duty to help the St. Louis center."

The Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling was established by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in memory of the space shuttle Challenger. More than 40,000 students fly missions each year either at the Wheeling facility or through distance learning. Frank oversees the e-Missions, in which students connect via videoconference with a flight director at the center and use their math and science skills to work their way through a scenario fraught with crises. The center conducts e-Missions in 14 countries, adding up to more than 1,000 video connections each year to classrooms around the world.

The Wheeling facility has been honored nine years for having served the most children of all the centers and was recognized at this year's national meeting for having increased the number of teachers it trained in 2009 by more than 5 percent over the previous year.