2024 Keeper of the Flame Awardee

Debra Dimas, Santa Teresa High School

Debra embarked on her teaching journey in 1989 at Independence High School, where she instructed Integrated Science and Physics. In 2000, she transitioned to Santa Teresa High School, where she has since served as the FIRST Robotics Competition team mentor and Physics teacher. Her dedication to teaching is evident in her passion for inspiring students to strive for mastery of understanding, both in her classes and in the realm of robotics competition.

Beyond her role as an educator, Debra has actively participated in the Ignited program since 1994. In her initial three years, she collaborated at the IBM research center, exploring the application of Physics and Chemistry in the development of hard drives. This experience enabled her to assist students in answering the perennial question, “What will I use this for?” Over the last 15 years, Debra has assumed the role of a coach for Ignited, guiding fellow teachers in incorporating their summer research and industry experiences back into their classrooms.

Two years ago, Debra undertook a curriculum overhaul, inspired by the principles of Grading for Equity. Her approach ensures that students are evaluated based on their comprehension of learning objectives, rather than the sheer volume of work completed. This approach makes physics more accessible to students who might otherwise be deterred by challenging concepts while still presenting a meaningful challenge to top-performing students aiming to master the material.

With 34 years of teaching under her belt, Debra continues to find joy in working with her students and witnessing those enlightening “aha” moments.