Gifford Middle School Teacher Melissa Sleeper Selected As Solar System Ambassador

Gifford Middle School Teacher Melissa Sleeper Selected As Solar System Ambassador
Posted on 04/12/2018

DATE: April 12, 2018

Cristen McMillan
Phone: 772-564-5527 

Gifford Middle School Teacher Melissa Sleeper Selected As Solar System Ambassador

Vero Beach, FL, April 12, 2018—The Solar System Ambassador Program has selected Melissa Sleeper, science teacher at Gifford Middle School, as a Solar System Ambassador by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Solar System Ambassador Program (SSA) is a volunteer public engagement program managed by NASA's JPL in Pasadena, California. Solar System Ambassadors are an extended part of each NASA mission team and an important interface between the space exploration community and the general public.

The Solar System Ambassadors Program of NASA's JPL offers information and excitement about real missions that explore our solar system. Volunteer ambassadors in communities throughout the country are selected by JPL based on their backgrounds and on their plans for public outreach activities. JPL provides ambassadors with educational materials and training. However, the opinions of Ambassadors are not necessarily those of NASA or JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

The application process for the Solar System Ambassador program is very competitive. In addition to a resume, applicants must provide answers to essay questions, plans for SSA events they hope to host, and five references. The references are interviewed by JPL. The applicant pool consists of planetarium heads, museum curators, university professors, TV meteorologists, teachers, etc. It is a worldwide selection process, and an elite group of 30 to 50 people are chosen to receive this honor. In the 20 years this program has been active, less than 1,000 applicants have been selected.

Melissa Sleeper stated, “I am very honored to have been selected as a Solar System Ambassador by NASA JPL. I am looking forward to learning more about NASA and sharing the excitement of NASA's space exploration programs with others.”

Melissa Sleeper

Melissa Sleeper, Gifford Middle School Science Teacher

Melissa will be regularly invited to attend teleconferences with NASA mission scientists to learn about current NASA Missions and research. In addition, she will have access to an incredible data base of NASA materials, most of which she can share with her colleagues. As a member of the SSA community, Melissa will participate in social media groups attached to NASA. SSA's are registered with NASA's speaker’s bureau and volunteer network and are often asked to assist with NASA events. Melissa also plans to host her own events and make presentations for schools and community groups. Melissa has already had one presentation in March at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. To maintain her ambassadorship, she is required to give four presentations a year.

Melissa Sleeper

Further information about the Solar System Ambassadors Program is available at