The national Challenger Center, based in Washington, D.C., presented Christine Irby, a Special Education teacher at Westwood PreK-6, with the 2019 June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award on Monday, May 6. The Award, named in honor of Challenger Center Founding Chair June Scobee Rodgers, recognizes outstanding educators who value the importance of STEM education and demonstrate great enthusiasm in teaching STEM subjects.

Ms. Irby was presented with $2,500, a signed copy of Silver Linings, written by Rodgers, and a framed certificate naming her as this year’s award recipient. Only one June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award is given out annually.

“Every year our Challenger Learning Centers nominate teachers who make a difference in their classrooms and inspire their students to dream big and reach for the stars,” said Denise Kopecky, Vice President of Education at Challenger Center. “We are inspired by Ms. Irby’s work. She engages her students who often face tough challenges and integrates STEM into her classroom in so many creative ways. We are honored to call Ms. Irby this year’s June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award recipient.”

The Challenger Learning Center of Dayton nominated Ms. Irby for incorporating innovative ideas and concepts into her classroom and giving her students an exceptional experience. Ms. Irby shares and helps promote the Center’s programs and STEM opportunity with her school and surrounding districts. She volunteers to help with STEM nights and works with STEM leaders to bring STEM awareness to her community.

Dayton Public Schools’ Challenger Learning Center has been reinvigorated over the last several years.

“In 2016 when I arrived in the Dayton Public Schools, I visited the Challenger Learning Center of Dayton, which was not functioning at its full potential or quality it is today,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli. “With a bold move, the district decided that we were going to restructure the Challenger Learning Center of Dayton, invest some money in it and invest personnel in it to make sure we truly had a place for our students to learn science, technology, math, and engineering.”

Now, the Dayton Challenger Center, which is among more than 40 centers worldwide, strives to fly missions for as many students as possible. It also invites the surrounding community to participate regularly through STEM nights and other events.