Astronaut visits Nashville school as gov. touts students’ growth in science

Butch Wilmore (Photo: WKRN)
Butch Wilmore (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An astronaut born and raised in Tennessee visited a Nashville school on Thursday as the governor touted students’ growth in science across the state.

Gov. Bill Haslam congratulated students at William Henry Oliver Middle School for their accomplishments, adding Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the nation, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress, commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The last time fourth and eighth grade students both took NAEP science was 2009, and the 2015 NAEP results show Tennessee is the only state to grow faster than the nation in both grades with Tennessee students doubling the average national growth.

Tennessee now ranks in the top 50 percent of all states in terms of science achievement.

Astronaut Butch Wilmore touched on the importance of a good education.

“People ask me, ‘When did you start training to be an astronaut?’ And I say, really it was about third grade because you start going into fractions and cursive writing, you start using some more in-depth skills. There’s a lot of wonderful things people do in life, but you can’t do those things if you don’t start building a foundation early,” he said.

Wilmore told News 2 after speaking with students he is a big fan of Tennessee, since he grew up here.

“Anything to promote Tennessee, and especially education here in Tennessee, is important to me, personally,” he said.

Haslam and Wilmore also visited schools in Memphis and Knoxville. They were joined by Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.

Wilmore currently lives in Texas with his wife and two children.