FLORENCE – Deborah W. Hyler, executive director of The School Foundation, and Randall M. LaCross, director of outreach and research at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), have been honored by the Francis Marion University Department of Biology with outstanding alumni awards.
Hyler received the John S. Boyce Award, while LaCross was presented the Lawrence Swails Award. These distinguished alumni awards, named after the Biology Department’s first two chairpersons, were presented during a reception Oct. 23 on the FMU campus. This is the third of what is planned to be an annual recognition of outstanding graduates of the biology program.
A Florence native, Hyler received her bachelor’s degree in medical technology from then, Francis Marion College in 1982. Hyler has since become an accomplished organizer and motivator with more than 10 years of experience in a wide variety of community-related activities.
Her primary responsibility in her current position is to raise private donations in the form of grants to support the 15,000 students at 23 schools in Florence School District One. The money raised is not used for operating, but for enhancement expenses. Prior to her work for the School Foundation, Hyler was chief operating officer for the Pee Dee Pride Hockey Team. She managed the Pride office and developed and implemented an effective marketing and business plan.
As microbiology supervisor for McLeod Regional Medical Center from 1984-1991, she wrote and maintained policy and procedure manuals, taught clinical and didactic microbiology, mycology, mycobacteriology and parasitology. In addition, she managed the daily operations of the microbiology laboratory. Based on her performance, McLeod awarded Hyler a merit award in 1982 and the Didactic Teacher of the Year Award in 1980.
From 1982-1984, Hyler was a microbiologist for Roper Hospital in Charleston and worked as an instructor of microbiology, mycology, mycobacterialogy and parasitology at the Medical University of South Carolina and Trident Technical College.
Hyler serves on the South Carolina Library Board of Directors and the BB&T Advisory Board. She and her husband Daniel have three children: Jonathan, Jennifer and Julia. They also have one granddaughter, Ellie.
LaCross received his bachelor’s degree in biology and a master of education degree in secondary science from FMU. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in secondary science education at the University of South Carolina.
During his more than 20 years as a science educator in South Carolina, LaCross has had the opportunity to develop curricula, create science education outreach programs, serve on numerous state and national committees, serve as a science teacher consultant, conduct presentations at state and national science conferences and teach at a variety of educational levels.
He joined GSSM in 1998 as a curriculum development specialist, responsible for creating, in collaboration with the chemical engineering department at the University of South Carolina, an instructional unit called Fuel Cells and Engineering. In 2000, he accepted the position of curriculum coordinator at GSSM, where he created and directed a middle school outreach program called Team GEAR UP, which was part of a statewide GEAR UP partnership.
In 2005, he advanced to his role as director of outreach and research at GSSM, where he is responsible for coordinating the GSSM research program, developing the new GSSM GEAR UP partnership and managing other outreach efforts.
Recently, LaCross collaborated with the GSSM Foundation to develop and submit a Toyota USA Foundation grant proposal for launching a middle school and high school outreach project called Portable Advanced Science Exploration (PASE). The proposal was accepted for funding, and PASE programming will be offered in spring 2009. Prior to joining GSSM, he taught high school science for nine years and was an instructor at FMU for three years.
LaCross and his wife Pam, a native of Florence, met while he was attending FMU. They have two sons, Tyler and Jonathan.