This school year, students in Sharon will have the chance to redefine the word "stellar".
While Sharon Public Schools has hosted NASA's "Train Like an Astronaut" program for Grades 3-5 for several years, starting this year, students of all grades in the elementary level will be able to participate.
"NASA is using the Sharon Public Schools as a role model district in offering TLA workshops to introduce the program to districts across the nation," said Tim Vigorito, Sharon's K-5 Wellness Facilitator and NASA Team USA Mission X Leader. "With the inclusion of art, technology, library and music planned additionally this year, the Sharon Team USA model will offer complete, integrated learning opportunities for the students."
Vigorito attended a special "NASA Mission X" event at Patriot Place in Foxborough on Aug. 16, at which he joined other members of the NASA Human Research Program Education Outreach group as well as Astronaut Chris Cassidy.
"It was a huge success, for all visitors had the opportunity to meet and spend time talking with Astronaut Cassidy (a native of Salem, Massachusetts) and to take part in the Train Like an Astronaut fitness activities," Vigorito said. "This is the program that all Sharon elementary schools have participated in this year as a member of Team USA, along with 14 other nations world-wide.
Mission X promotes fitness and healthy habits by offering a variety of activities that model the training of actual astronauts in preparation for spaceflight, Vigorito said. Sharon hosted a live webcast with NASA last March in conjunction with the completion of the Mission X 2012 activities.
This October, Vigorito will visit Houston, Texas to present on Sharon's experience with the program.
"It was an honor for me to meet in person many of the folks responsible for the huge success of this program, and along with NASA, I wish to thank the folks at Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Thermofisher Scientific for their continued support and commitment to the children of Sharon," Vigorito said.
Vigorito has also been recognized by the Sharon Education Foundation for his efforts in bringing awareness to both NASA and students in Sharon. The SEF announced that Vigorito is the 2012 recipient of the Lee Flaxer Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has had an impact on the lives of children trough dedication and personal involvement. He will be honored with the award at a reception on Sept. 20.
"Tim Vigoritois an exceptional teacher who creates lasting and positive impressions upon his students," Sharon Superintendent Timothy Farmer in the statement by the SEF. "He also demonstrates a deep commitment to the Heights School community and to the Sharon Public Schools. While I was not lucky enough to know Lee Flaxer, from what I've heard she and Tim Vigorito share many common character traits that cause people to admire and respect them. I can't think of another person who is more deserving of this award, especially due to the Height's Elementary School connection between Tim and Ms. Flaxer."
Vigorito has been a teacher and curriculum coordinator in Sharon for the last 14 years and is currently the physical education instructor at Heights Elementary.
In 2007, Vigorito created a program dubbed SPACE CAMP as part of the indoor recess program at Heights Elementary in Sharon. Within the program, students see another purpose to gym by relating physical fitness to the exploration of space. The program has become a model that Lockheed Martin promotes in their company newsletter.
Last spring, NASA invited Mr. Vigorito to participate in Mission X - an international educational challenge focusing on fitness and nutrition. NASA designed Mission X to include science training modules and healthy living activities that compare to those used by astronauts during all phases of space flight, according to a statement by the SEF, in which school officials commended Vigorito's efforts.
“In addition to new communication with other countries, our students and teachers have also had phenomenal opportunities to converse with NASA astronauts via Skype sessions!" Heights Elementary School Principal Lisa Lamore said in the statement. "Through his spirited efforts, Tim is inspiring many of our students to further study space science and consider their own ideas about a career in space!”