Deborah Wasylik, 2011 Life Sciences Award

Written by on August 15, 2011 in 2011, Educator, Life Sciences Award

Deborah Wasylik

Deborah Wasylik

Dr. Phillips High School
Orlando, Florida

Creating curiosity in science class is important to Deborah Wasylik. She accomplishes this when she tells her students that before she became a teacher she had climbed inside a pyramid, jumped out of an airplane and sold drugs!

She grew up with an adventurous family in New Jersey, and attended Grove City College near Pittsburgh. After graduation with a Biology Degree, she entered pharmaceutical sales and held various sales positions for the next 20 years, including demonstrating power tools live on QVC.

In 1996 the family moved to Orlando, Florida, and Deborah became a teacher at an inner-city school. The first phone call she received in class was from a probation officer asking if one of her students was wearing his ankle bracelet. During her first lab a student had an asthma attack triggered by earthworm preservative, and she had to call 911, but it was too late–she was in love with the job and the students.

For the last 10 years she has enjoyed teaching life sciences at Dr. Phillips High School. Deborah has been the recipient of many awards including being selected last year as a NASA Endeavor STEM Fellow and being invited by President Bush to the White House to receive the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Her plans for this summer include a trip to Montana to learn about the environmental impacts of the mining industry and hunt for fossils.

She is married to Wes, and their daughter Colleen recently graduated from Duke University.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2011 Life Sciences Awards Evaluation Committee:

  • Russell A. Bantham, Esquire
    McLean, VA
  • Alan Bronstein
    Chemistry Teacher
    Central High School
    Philadelphia, PA
  • Christine Leyden
    Senior Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer
    Washington, D.C.


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