Educator Features

NASA's Top Achiever
07.14.05
Debbie Gallaway smiles as she holds the Frank G. Brewer trophy
After Debbie Gallaway accepted the Frank G. Brewer Trophy for "significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education in the United States," she reflected back on her work. "I believe this great honor is the result of the many wonderful years I have had the opportunity to work with my colleagues at NASA and throughout the aerospace community," Gallaway said.

Image to right: Debbie Gallaway (center) received the Frank G. Brewer Trophy for her work in aerospace education. Credit: National Aeronautics Association

Life has a funny way of taking your best plans and changing them around. If you're lucky, those changes offer unforgettable opportunities. Just ask Gallaway. When she graduated from Texas A&M University in 1974, she envisioned herself inspiring, educating and motivating elementary school students. A few months later she began her teaching career near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Even back then, she used NASA educational materials to teach her kids about the marvels of science. She did that, with great success, for eight and a half years. Then life threw a few changes her way when she and her husband moved to Washington, DC. Gallaway continues to inspire, educate and motivate, but her method of delivery has changed significantly.

After Gallaway stepped out of the classroom, she was hired by the U.S. Department of Education where she developed policy and managed educational programs for over six years. In 1990, she accepted a position with NASA to manage K-12 teacher enhancement, facility preparation and student programs for the agency. It was a dream come true. She also served as the Agency's lead educational liaison for numerous inter-agency programs including two White House initiatives: Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE), the Mars Millennium Project and U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Currently, she is responsible for the development and implementation of the NASA Explorer Institutes Program, a national-level informal education initiative.

One of her most rewarding assignments, Gallaway said, was her work with the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. "I was born in North Carolina, and I taught school and earned my pilot's license near Dayton, Ohio. Both states played a major role in the centennial of flight celebrations. My work with NASA and the Commission was a great opportunity to combine my passion for education and aviation. I was delighted to be able to help develop a Web site and educational materials related to this event, and to see students and educators everywhere participate in aviation related activities and learn about the history of flight.

Gallaway's interest in space and aviation isn't anything new. She started pilot ground school when she was 16 years old, and set out to get her pilot's license when she got her first teaching job. She's been a pilot since 1977, logging 1,500 hours behind the controls. She is currently a member of numerous aviation and space related organizations including the National Aeronautic Association, Ninety-Nines, Women in Aviation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the National Swift Association. She also serves as NASA's lead representative for the National Coalition for Aviation Education and FAI's International Commission for Aviation and Space Education.

The Frank G. Brewer Trophy has been awarded every year since 1943. Frank Brewer explained why he created the award: "Because of my two boys and the other million and a half like them that this war has put into the air and because aviation has climbed to America's number one industry and will offer the greatest opportunities to youth in the postwar days, I wanted very much to make some kind of contribution to Youth Aviation Education." Gallaway received the award June 7 in Washington, D.C.

"I was thrilled to be selected to receive the Brewer Trophy," Gallaway said. "I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to do what I do and appreciate all the wonderful folks I have worked with over the years. It really is amazing to be recognized for doing something you love!"

Related Resources
The Frank. G. Brewer Trophy
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NASA Explorer Institutes
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Centennial of Flight Project
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NASA's Centennial of Flight Web site
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Maggie Griffin/NASA Educational Technology Services