BANGOR (AP) – A fourth-grade Fairmount School teacher who was involved with the Challenger Learning Center of Maine has announced plans to leave the state next month to work fulltime for NASA.

Ellen Holmes has taken a position as program manager for the nation’s space program, developing materials for middle school educators to teach math and science concepts using NASA technology.

She will work from the Langley Research Center in Norfolk, Va., and be responsible for developing video, Internet, and printed resources for teachers.

Holmes’ first assignment will be in Cozumel, Mexico, where she will oversee a documentary of how satellite data is used to track changes in the Mayan ruins that have resulted from climate change and the movement of the Earth’s crust.

Holmes has been interested in space since she was a young student, inspired by her science teachers from Warsaw Middle School in Pittsfield. As a teacher she realized that space studies can be a “powerful tool” to interest young students.

In 2001, she was one of 50 educators nationwide selected to participate in a NASA educator workshop in which teachers received training on how to live and work in space. The following summer she led that program at the Kennedy Space Center.

Using her connections to NASA, Holmes has brought a number of unique resources to Maine. She has provided professional development workshops for educators, mediated live satellite links to the International Space Station, and brought astronauts, space vehicle engineers and space experts into state classrooms.

Holmes has taught in Bangor for 12 years and said leaving would be tough.

“But it’s like being drafted by the NBA. It’s hard to say no to your dream,” she said.

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