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Meet: Debbie Gallaway

deb on plane at Kitty Hawk

Assistant Director for Programs
U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission

Webcasts and Webchats
Career Fact Sheet Print Version

What I Do
As Assistant Director for Programs on the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, I am responsible for developing, identifying, and organizing the educational content, the calendar of events, and the historical resources for our web site (www.centennialofflight.gov). A large part of my job is to encourage programs, projects and events that will involve, educate, enrich, and inspire as many people as possible, particularly educators and students, to participate in the commemoration of the centennial of powered flight.

My Career Path
I was asked to support the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission a little over a year ago by the acting Executive Director. Because of my strong interest in aviation and a career in education that has spanned more then a quarter of a century, I was immediately intrigued by the position. At that point, I had served as the manager of NASA's national level teacher preparation and enhancement programs and several student programs for ten years. In addition, I had been deeply involved in the development of aviation and aerospace supplemental curriculum materials for about five years as the educational liaison to the Aerospace Technology Enterprise (OAST). Prior to working with OAST, I was instrumental in the development of educational materials for the Human Exploration and the Development of Space Enterprise and the Earth Science Enterprise. But as a pilot, I was very excited to be able to support the development of materials related to aerospace. When I became involved as the liaison to the Aerospace Technology Enterprise, NASA had very few educational products that focused on aeronautics. As the educational liaison to the Aerospace Technology Enterprise, I became a member of team of talented representatives that included all of NASA Aerospace Technology Centers. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience that has resulted in some outstanding materials that are used by educators and students all over the country.

Why I like my Job
As a classroom teacher for over eight years, I worked directly with students and educators. Since I began working for the government seventeen years ago, I have managed programs and helped develop materials for students, teachers, and faculty. I have always enjoyed being able to make contributions to the learning process, hopefully making it more interesting and exciting. I have also been fortunate to be able to interact with the committed and passionate people who are involved in the work done by NASA because our education programs and products cover every aspect of the agency's mission. It has been a marvelous learning opportunity for me and I have been able to share what I have learned with others.

The primary negative aspect of my career is a lack of time to do everything! I often don't get to things as quickly as I would like to.

As a child
I always loved science. I liked making things and figuring out how things work. I read everything I could put my hands on related to science; it was always my favorite subject in school. I loved literature too, especially poetry. When I was younger, I read stories about animals, Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, and adventure stories.

I always loved working with kids; I tutored a few along the way and liked it. I taught swimming and horseback riding in high school and served as a camp counselor. In college I taught a summer course about reptiles to elementary kids.

I discovered my desire to become a pilot at 16 when I signed up to take a ground school course at the teen club. I was fascinated with everything our volunteer instructor taught us! At nineteen, I got behind the controls of an airplane as a passenger in a Cessna 150 and started to learn about how a plane works. At 22, I was able to sign up for an official ground school course. After I completed the course, I took flying lessons. Wow-it was great! I have been at it ever since.

Everyone follows a different path and that's okay. I never would have been able to predict that I would be doing my current job fifteen, ten, or even five years ago. For me, following my passion(s) has always been very important and to be the best you can be in everything you do. Once you discover what you love to do, you need to learn everything you can about it. Loving it makes the learning come easy! Recognizing the possibilities for your own unique skills is also important.

Future Goals
I envision myself working on education and aerospace related activities. I plan to continue to encourage educators to use aviation and aerospace related information and materials to help them learn about just about anything! Kids, and teachers too, really get excited about learning when the content interests them. The content of this subject area has something for everyone: science, math, technology, history, literature, you name it! It is loaded with opportunities for discovery, adventure, imagination, and creativity.

I believe that every person we interact with influences us positively or negatively. Either way, all of our experiences with others are learning opportunities for each of us. My parents always encouraged and supported me in my many pursuits. I was strongly influenced by many of my teachers, particularly in science. My husband of 27 years has been supportive, a best friend through thick and thin, a co-pilot, a diving buddy, a soul mate, and a companion.

I love animals and have had many pets including dogs, cats, fish, turtles, and horses. I had an early interest in becoming a vet or marine biologist-I became a teacher instead. I have never regretted the choice! My current hobbies including flying, as often as possible, in a 1946 Globe Swift or a Mooney 201; digging in the dirt (gardening); designing and creating stain glass projects; and writing poetry.

Learn more from my webcasts and webchats:


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