St. Thomas Academy teacher named 2018 Space Educator of the Year


Mark Westlake

St. Thomas Academy Innovation Center Director, Founder and Co-moderator of the Experimental Vehicle Team Mark Westlake has been named the 2018 Space Educator of the Year by the National Space Club and Foundation. The Space Educator Award, bestowed annually on only one secondary school teacher in the country, recognizes teachers for motivating and guiding high school students in the study of careers in space science and technology. Westlake was honored at the 61st Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner on March 16 in Washington, D.C.

“This award is well-earned recognition for Mark’s hard work, creativity in teaching and dedication to the boys of Saint Thomas Academy,” said Matthew Mohs, headmaster of Saint Thomas Academy. “Our boys’ recent participation in two NASA educational programs is a direct result of Mark’s initiative and ingenuity. He leaves no stone unturned when seeking new ways to engage students in STEM disciplines, including the study of space science.”

A former physics instructor, Westlake incorporated space science into his curriculum and sought opportunities for students to delve more deeply into space science. These include the Visions of Exploration program through the Air Force and USA Today, NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators and the NASA Student Opportunities in Airborne Research programs. Through the Experimental Vehicle Team, he has helped start many engineering careers.

Westlake is a previous National Teacher of the Year for the Air Force Association and a TEKNE Award winner. He is also a master teacher for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program, and served as chairman of the advisory committee for the Solar Car Challenge. He has been with St. Thomas Academy since 1989. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

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