Students in Jane Lenners’ classes at Wauneta-Palisade Schools received special stickers from NASA from former student and graduate of Chase County Schools Sandra Jones, who is completing an internship with the space program. Students included, front from left, Kyle Jutten, Kelter Rahn, Josh Hicks, Christopher Keen, Diane Martinez, Jackson Littrel, Jillian Martinez, back from left, Brianna Sramek, Michael Duvel, Seth Knotts, Peyton Vrbas, Sydnee Acton, Chloe Stehng, Halle Bardsley and Cali Cox. (Courtesy photo)
Sandra Jones keeps in touch with roots
Sandra Jones is not only an intern at the NASA Space Program in Houston, Texas, but she is also speaking out as an advocate for all educators.
In a tribute to past teachers posted on Facebook, Jones said, “I’ve had many people ask me just where a teacher fits in at NASA, or who are surprised that they offer internships for my major.
“However, there is a quote that has kept coming back to me these past eight weeks, and it is this ‘Be the person you needed when you were younger.’”
Coming from a home of poverty, with a mother who was in and out of prison, not knowing where her next meal was coming from and without clean clothes, Jones knows about hardship.
But she also knows about success. After graduating from Chase County Schools (CCS), Jones went on to the University of Omaha to major in education.
“One of my philosophies in life is to ‘Give it all away and pay it forward.’ Everything I learn and experience is of no use, if it cannot be shared and passed down,” said Jones.
In an effort to give back in what little way she could, Jones recently sent NASA stickers to Jane Lenners’ fifth and sixth grade language arts and math classes at Wauneta-Palisade Schools, as well as a lot of interesting information on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.
While working as a lifeguard in the summers, Jones quickly bonded with the long time educator in Imperial. Lenners taught at CCS for 20 years.
“My hope is this, that from this small act I am able to answer the question: Why education at NASA? It is my sincerest belief that the students in classrooms today will aid in the greatest scientific achievements mankind has ever known. There is a whole generation that will have a space program to be a part of in their childhood,” said Jones.
With a firm belief in investing in children’s lives, it is easy to say Jones is doing more than enough to make those people proud who have had pivotal roles in helping make who she is today.
“When I was younger I needed someone to tell me I was capable, and could be whatever I wanted no matter my circumstance,” she said.
“I needed someone to tell me that despite the statistic that only 6 percent of low-income, first generation students graduate college that I would be one of them.
“I needed someone who wasn’t afraid to pour their heart and soul into me because they truly cared about me. Why education? Because I’m being the person I needed when I was younger,” Jones said.