In her beautiful book “Silver Linings,” June Scobee Rodgers gives us an up close and personal account of Jan. 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after takeoff. Her then-husband, Dick Scobee, commander of the craft, and all other crew members were killed.
When June was only 9 years old, she read Norman Vincent Peale’s book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” That was the catalyst enabling her to write her formula for overcoming her many adversities. Among them were poverty, a mother who had many hospitalizations for her mental illness, and being in many different schools because her father, an itinerant carpenter, moved the family often for him to find work.
It was in one of those schools that June was put in a class for slow learners because she couldn’t print. Her first-grade teacher had taught cursive writing but not printing of block letters. It was there June was most discouraged until the day all students took an IQ test. Days later, it was announced June had the highest IQ in the entire school. She was promptly sent to the correct grade.
There, she developed her formula for overcoming adversity: “A — develop attitudes that will keep me positive; B — believe in God and myself; C — commit to doing whatever necessary to turn my scars into stars.” Her formula enabled her to receive a doctorate degree from Texas A&M University and to become a teacher.
Incidentally, in an eighth-grade civics class, June told the class she wanted to be a teacher. A classmate said loudly, “You will never be a teacher. You’re so poor, you won’t ever see the inside of a college classroom.” Years later, June must have found some perverse pleasure in seeing that classmate in the crowds that welcomed June on the day the governor of Alabama declared a “June Kent Scobee Day.”
On the day of the Challenger disaster, June’s life took a 180-degree turn. After her public grief, which the nation shared, she rose to establish 51 Challenger Centers for Space Science Education and to find a new life and love with Lt. Gen. Don Rodgers.
Contact Nell Mohney at email@example.com.