Presentation from Former NASA Associate Administrator for Education


(NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Donald G. James, Associate Administrator for Education, NASA

On December 8th, 2021, Donald James, a former member of NASA for over 35 years, came to the Sports Complex of Dublin High School to talk about his journey as a member of NASA and what he has learned from that experience. After working with many other intellectuals and even meeting former president Obama, he learned that the one thing that will take you farther than money and brains is manners.

Mr. James was appointed as NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of Education in 2014. He has been working to strengthen student involvement and public awareness about the organization ever since then.

When Mr. James left NASA, he held one of the most senior jobs. Two military generals were above him in the order of command, followed by the president himself. However, he began his career as a simple assistant to Barbara Morgan, one of the challenger team’s astronauts. 

Although the expected topic of the presentation was aerospace,  Mr. James dedicated much of his allotted time to discuss the importance of manners and connections in the industry which he has observed is commonly ignored when compared to formal education. Mr. James has also published ‘Manners Will Take You Where Brains and Money Won’t: Wisdom from Momma and 35 years at NASA is available’, a book which explores more of the topics he discussed in the presentation.

At the end of the presentation, James was kind enough to give five free copies of his book to members of the audience, and many came up to get autographs for his book which attendees already owned a physical copy of. 

“Donald James gave this address for several reasons, one of which was to share his wisdom with the next generation. The most important thing he advised us to remember for the rest of our life is that manners, not knowledge or hard effort, may get you anywhere. This was something his mother told him when he was younger, but he didn’t believe it. He is now certain that it is correct. Several individuals, he claims, have been dismissed because of their lack of manners, while others have hired him because of his manners. As a result, having a balance of job and social abilities is critical, according to James” reported Sajeev Magnesh (9), one of the attendees of the presentation made by Mr. James.