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Center Snapshot: Caryn Kelly
Caryn Kelly. Image above: Caryn Kelly provides consistent curriculum and teacher support to the Modeling and Simulation workshop for NASA's Langley Research Center, Kennedy Space Center and Ames Research Center, in addition to an underserved Hispanic community in Texas. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

Caryn Kelly was born five minutes from the Michigan border in Sylvania, Ohio, where she was one of about 19,000 residents. She now lives in Suffolk, a city four times more populated.

In her continuing journey from Sylvania to Suffolk, she has been an educator on land and underwater, a diver, a mother, a gardener, a traveler, a Navy wife and now a curriculum coordinator for the AeroSim (Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development) internship program at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

She has lived in Ohio, Mississippi, Virginia and Italy.

She, husband Peter and their 10-year-old son, Kyle, have visited Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, France, Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, Estonia, Egypt, Israel and Palestine.

Kelly has also been to Mexico, Belize, Honduras, the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands, where she and Peter were married.

You could say that she’s been there. She's done that. And she has positively affected people -- and animals -- along the way.

During an internship with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Kelly worked part-time job at the Marine Life Oceanarium as a diver doing educational shows.

She swam alongside sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and stingrays.

She was mixing her passions – animals and teaching – and it’s something she hopes to combine again.

After her internship, she returned to Ohio to complete her biology degree and prepared to work in a cheetah exhibit, when city funding for the position fell through. From there, she became a medical laboratory technician.

Kelly returned to school and, three teaching endorsements later, she was reunited with her of love of education as a middle and high school teacher. She also went on to earn her master’s in education and is working on a graduate certificate in Instructional Technology- eLearning at George Mason University.

At NASA Langley, she’s well-suited for her job.

“My experience as a middle and high school teacher allowed me to understand the importance of providing a well-rounded agenda to the teachers who would introduce modeling and simulation to their students,” Kelly said. “Work as a curriculum and training specialist for the Navy provided me with the experience to organize multi-day or weeklong workshops while maintaining and maximizing participant engagement.”

She enjoys the idea that, through teachers, she is reaching students.

“By providing educational experiences to teachers, I am ultimately providing it to the students as well, and this is something that is important to me,” Kelly said.

Kelly views all of her experiences as opportunities. She is grateful for them.

And until animals and education once again collide, she has Prada and Blue, her two dogs, and Cougie the cat to care for.

Her journey and her impact are far from over.

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman