Local teacher waits for the NASA call

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Allan Miller is waiting for his dream to come true. A dream that started when he was a 6-year-old boy and with his Dad watched Neil Armstrong land on the Moon in 1969. A few weeks ago Miller, a sixth grade teacher at Sterling Elementary School, saw a piece of his dream become reality as he stood in front of a group of NASA Astronauts in Houston and told them why he wanted to be an Astronaut. In 1985 Miller first applied to the NASA Educator Astronaut Program, but didn't even make the preliminary selections, "I was a first year teacher and didn't even make it into the running, but ever since then its been in the back of my mind, and when the opportunity came up last year I put my name in the hat again," said Miller, after being recognized by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for being selected as a finalist in the NASA program.

Much has changed in Miller's life since 1985, he is now a seasoned educator with an extensive background in technology, and has become fluent in Russian, "That's an important asset, because every Astronaut has to know Russian because they train in Moscow now, and I've been trained on just about every computer system that there is. It's now easy for me to stand up in front of people and talk and I think that's what they are looking for is a person who can stand up and represent educators and teachers and say what a phenomenal group of people we are and that we can make a difference in kids lives and get them interested in space and science again," said Miller.

Miller described the week he spent at NASA headquarters as, "Exhilarating! Some of the coolest toys I've ever seen, I won't call them toys, but they really are and when you talk with the Astronauts they say man we've got the greatest job because live out peoples dreams with the best technology and brightest people in the world." Miller really has no idea if he'll be selected or not for the program. He says he gave it his best and has no regrets or thoughts that he wishes he'd done something differently, but now can only wait until January when the selections will be announced. Even if Miller is not selected to become one of three to six Educator Astronauts, the Borough Assembly unanimously agreed, "The benefits to the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the School District are unique. Being selected as a finalist opens the door to outreach and resources, grants, funding and many relationships with scientists in the field," read the Assembly's commending resolution.

Miller will stay busy in his sixth grade classroom until January, but without a doubt those will be some of the longest weeks in his life, as he looks up to the stars at night and wonders if some day he will be orbiting earth on the International Space Station, "It gives me goose bumps imagining that I could be sitting on top of 7 million pounds of thrust, flying at 17,000 miles an hour around this planet, it would be a dream for anybody."

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