The only Lisle teacher in Illinois selected for the NASA program

One of the reasons Tanya Anderson became a teacher was to capitalize on her love of science.

Now she will fulfill her dream.

Anderson, a 14-year middle school science teacher at St. John’s Arch School in Lisle, has been selected as the Ambassador for Airborne Astronomy for NASA for 2022. She is one of only 24 teachers in 13 states selected for the program and the only teacher from Illinois.

The goal of the program is to expand Anderson’s knowledge of astronomy and transfer that knowledge to her students to enhance STEM engagement.

Shocked that she received this honor, Anderson can’t wait to take the plunge.

“I’ve never been so confident but I’ve always been an optimist,” Anderson said. “It was one of those things where I knew I was putting everything I had into the app. I was just crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that it would be good enough to be what they were looking for.”

Anderson still does not know when and where she will be involved. But sometime next school year, you’ll head to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy in California or the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii for a week-long STEM immersion experience.


As much as she loves a trip to Hawaii, Anderson is eager to visit the California facility, known as Sophia. It is a flying observatory that allows astronomers to study the solar system beyond the capabilities of ground-based telescopes.

“Actually very few people travel on Sophia,” she said. “The science nerd is what makes me want to do this. It would be a great experience.”

Anderson started in the software industry but earned a master’s degree to become a teacher. She held a scholarly position at Saint Joan of Arc when her children attended school there.

For the past 14 years, she has passed on her love of science and astronomy to her students. In addition to being part of other professional development opportunities with NASA, Anderson also helped Saint Joan of Arc develop its science curriculum.

In preparation for her next adventure, Anderson attended Zoom training sessions to learn about the equipment. In June, you will visit Denver for practical training and learn how to implement what you learn in class.

Anderson should know by fall if she’s headed to California or Hawaii.

“This program will give me new resources and new ways to teach some of the information that is not always the most exciting,” she said. “Kids need to know what real world science is out there and how important it is.”

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