Community Leader, Advocate for Teachers, Mother of 2
Sharon Christa Corrigan was born in Boston on Sept. 2, 1948, the daughter of Grace and Edward G. Corrigan. She grew up in Framingham, Mass., a Boston suburb.
Although she was christened “Sharon,” she was called Christa from the start, and once told a reporter she had not known her given first name until she read the certificate for her First Holy Communion.
At Marion High School, a parochial school, she participated in activities ranging from basketball to the Girl Scouts to glee club, and started a holiday food-basket program for the needy.
She also met her future husband, Steven J. McAuliffe, at Marion High School, recalling alter that she had noticed him on the first day of her sophomore year. They married in 1970, the same year she graduated from Framingham State College with a degree in history.
After their marriage, the McAuliffes lived for eight years in Washington, D.C., where Mr. McAuliffe attended law school and worked as a defense lawyer for the Army.
While in Washington, Christa McAuliffe taught fulltime, waited on tables part-time, and earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Bowie State College in Maryland.
In 1978, the couple moved to New Hampshire, where Mr. McAuliffe went to work for the attorney general’s office, and Ms. McAuliffe taught in a number of public schools.
While teaching at Bow Memorial School near Concord, N.H., in the early 1980’s, Ms. McAuliffe was president of the local affiliate of the National Education Association. Mel Myler, executive director of the state affiliate, recalled how Ms. McAuliffe “took on the local school board” over a conflict concerning the teachers’ contract.
In New Hampshire, an entire town votes on the contract, Mr. Myler explained, saying that Christa had “presented the teachers’ views to the community--and won.” Those were pivotal years in her development as a teachers’ advocate, he said.
In 1982, Ms. McAuliffe began teaching at Concord High School, where she taught social studies and a course on the American woman.
In New Hampshire, she led a Girl Scout troop, hosted inner-city students who came north to New England for study, taught religious classes at St. Peter’s Church in Concord, performed in community theater, and worked as a family-planning counselor.
She also raised two children, Scott, now 9, and Caroline, 6.
“Christa was unique, but she wasn’t unique,” Mr. Myler said. “In most cases, specialness comes through where you go to school, how much money you make. She had unique qualities, but she didn’t bring with her all those material qualities Americans equate with success. She embraced the qualities of a good teacher.”
Until the tragedy, he said, “we in Concord had no idea of the impact she had on the nation. We were wrapped up in the fact that she was a colleague and a friend.”
That national impact was apparent last week in the hundreds of cards, telegrams, and flowers sent to Concord High School, he said. It was also reflected in memorial services held around the country, culminating last Friday with a national service for all of the crew members at the Lyndon B. Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston.
Mr. McAuliffe was expected to attend the Houston ceremony, as were the President and Mrs. Reagan, members of Congress, and other public officials.
Vol. 5, Issue 21, Page 4