News Detail

Visiting Innovator Leland Melvin Teaches Resilience, Creativity

The former NASA astronaut and NFL player visited Steward on October 10.
For years, Director of the Bryan Innovation Lab Cary Jamieson has hoped to bring a truly once-in-a-lifetime speaker to The Steward School: former NFL player and NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. With the assistance of Virginia STEM coordinator Chuck English and the Science Museum of Virginia, Ms. Jamieson formed in-roads with Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond to finally make that happen on October 10, specifically citing the help of STEM scholar Dr. Al Byers and Dr. Andrew Daire, Dean of VCU’s School of Education. 

Dr. Daire introduced Leland Melvin’s presentation as our first Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovator of the year. He spoke to a crowd of Steward students and families, as well as 150 Richmond Public Schools students from Chimborazo Elementary School and Fairfield Elementary School.

“Part of my role is to make sure our future teachers have the knowledge and teaching skills to work with students from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and economic levels so that we can ensure every student has the opportunity for a wonderful education similar to what students get here at The Steward School,” Dr. Daire said. “This event is bringing together a collaboration that does just that.”

Mr. Melvin’s presentation, titled “The Right Stuff Is the Never Give Up Stuff,” incorporated autobiographical photos, videos, and stories that chronicled his growth from precocious child scientist to NASA-trained space explorer. Themes of resilience and inspiration served as a backdrop to Mr. Melvin’s day on campus, which also included hand-made rockets launched over Steward’s athletic fields by students and faculty.

Steward parent Suzanne Shaia noted how Mr. Melvin’s story impacted her and all three of her children. “What spoke to me the most is that Mr. Melvin did not have one goal in his life that he worked hard to reach, but that he has followed his own path and achieved many amazing things along the way,” she said.

Ms. Jamieson affirmed the impact of Mr. Melvin’s visit by saying, “We need to be engaged with real-world things and looking at a much bigger picture than our campus, because that’s the lens our students should be looking through for the rest of their lives.”

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