John Shoffner hosting local educators at Space Exploration conference in Houston

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

News Release

Astronaut and STEAM advocate John Shoffner aims to use his recent space flight experience to help educators find new ways to excite young students to become curious and life-long learners. Through the launch of the Perseid Foundation, his new mission is to promote STEAM education and encourage educators/students to discover their inner voice, so they don’t have to wait a lifetime to fulfill their dreams like John did.

The Perseid Foundation works to bring world leading partnerships to its schools across Appalachia with programs for improving the learning culture in classrooms and STEAM curriculum development. Since the inception of the foundation, founder John Shoffner and Executive Director Nicole Swickle have introduced Middlesboro Independent Schools to valued partners including MIT, International Space Station National Lab, Limitless Space Institute, University of Texas at Austin’s Behavioral Science and Policy Institute program and more.

On Feb. 7-10, Shoffner will be hosting seven hand-selected educators from Middlesboro and Bell County Schools at the prestigious Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) in Houston. The group of teachers and administrators will join Shoffner for a curated week of STEM-related learning sessions, key notes, tours, hands-on activity, global networking opportunities and more.

Those attending from the Middlesboro School System include Jennifer Lewis, Amanda Estes, Charles Thomas, Nick Shoffner and Chris Stotts. From the Bell County School System are Terry Wilson, Jennifer Hilton and Shalora Neely.

“By attending the SEEC, I hope to gain experience, lessons, and materials that I can return to our district and share with other teachers and students,” said Wilson of Bell County. “I am excited about touring an actual NASA facility and learning of all the ways that NASA’s work can relate to our lives and students in the future.”

Since returning from space, Shoffner has received the first-ever key to the city of Middlesboro, honoring his dedication to education and community development. He continues to inspire students and teachers alike through classroom visits, curriculum development, hands-on community involvement, and speaking engagements including VivaTech, NPR, The World Knowledge Forum and more.