I touch the future...

 Early in the afternoon of Tuesday, January 28, 1986, I was walking back from lunch to my part-time job as an undergraduate academic advisor at Pace University.  It was a day like most other New York City winter days -- the air was brisk, as was the undulating throng of pedestrians moving along the city sidewalks toward a thousand different destinations.  


Until, all of a sudden,  they weren't.


For those who hadn’t been watching TV that morning, the "breaking news" had to be passed along the old-fashioned way... through a rare midday publication of a city newspaper.  Peering around the clusters of people to find out what headline had grabbed so much attention, I learned that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded just 73 seconds after takeoff.


For me, the Challenger explosion marked my first collective "before and after" moment -- a global event that cleaved time into two categories:  before it happened, and after it happened.


It also marked the end of my cultural innocence.  I had been too young to remember the murders of MLK or RFK, and had no memories of the Vietnam War -- other than church bells tolling to indicate that it had ended.  And, while it was true that both Pope John Paul II and President Reagan had been shot while I was in high school, both survived and fully recovered.  Born in the final year of the Baby Boomer generation and raised in a very small town by protective parents, I had remained relatively ensconced in the belief that all was well, and that all would continue to remain well, nationally and globally.


(Of course, I now realize how uninformed I was... but that is a topic for a different blog post.)


In the words of Chloe Koffas, who was nine years old at the time of the disaster:


"Gen X grew up too fast, and any lingering naivety dissipated alongside the vapor of the shuttle that day." (Koffas, 2016)


So too, for this late-generation Boomer.


Particularly shattering was the fact that along with the six 'professional astronauts' on Challenger, there was a special guest astronaut – Christa McAuliffe, who was to be the first "Teacher in Space," a program that was designed to "inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science and space exploration" (NASA, n.d.).


In addition to training to be a fully contributing Payload Specialist on the mission, Christa had also prepared lesson plans that she would deliver to a world of students.  In anticipation of this, students across the nation watched the Challenger liftoff in schools.  


And then watched the unthinkable happen.


Like so many, I was changed that day.  Something died in me that day, but -- eventually -- something was born in me, as well.


For, as was intended, I chose to be inspired by Christa, and by her words:


"I touch the future ... I teach."  


Within two years of the explosion, I led my first workplace training session -- and I haven't stopped teaching since.


Fast forward 35 years... to my first visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida… the place from which Challenger had lifted off.  While I was looking forward to observing a rocket launch, it wasn't until we arrived at the viewing area that I realized that I would be sitting in the same grandstands where Christa's family stood when the Challenger exploded.  


They may have ridden a bus, just like we rode, to get there.


They looked off in the same direction that we looked, in anticipation of liftoff.


They squinted into the sky to see more clearly, just as we were.


I was as much sobered by the experience as I was uplifted by it.


After the liftoff, I sought out the Challenger memorial.  I spent time in the presence of the belongings of the brave souls who perished in the Challenger and Columbia shuttles, especially at Christa's memorial.  Particularly prominent in the display was that same quotation I had come across decades earlier:


"I touch the future ... I teach."  


And then, it occurred to me.


Yes, teachers touch the future.


And coaches do, too.


With every client... with every conversation... with every question.


What an awesome opportunity...

... and what an equally awesome responsibility.


Which brings us back to the choice to become an ICF-certified coach.


By committing to coach in accordance with ICF's core competencies, coaches acknowledge the criticality of approaching coaching with proficiency and knowledge.  


By pledging to adhere to the ICF Coaching Standards, coaches commit to embody and conduct themselves according to the core values and ethical standards embraced -- and enforced -- by the ICF, the pre-eminent coach certifying body.


And, by earning certification, coaches make manifest their dedication to the profession, to their clients, and to themselves.


We invite you to join us at Ferrymaster Coach Training Center as you take your journey toward becoming an ICF-certified coach.


We invite you to join us… as we touch the future.

Ferrymaster Cathy



Koffas, C. (n.d.). The challenger disaster and Generation X. The Challenger Disaster and Generation X. https://genxpixels.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-challenger-disaster-and-generation-x.html


Teacher in space mission patch. Kennedy Space Center Space Shop. (n.d.). https://thespaceshop.com/teacher-in-space/


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