Meet: Debbie Gallaway
Assistant Director for Programs
U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
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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
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,
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